It is said that we resist change until the pain of not changing becomes greater than the anticipated pain of making the change. If you are dreading your fuel bills this winter, you may have reached the tipping point and the first step to a solution is a home energy audit.
You can perform a home energy audit yourself. However, it is usually more effective to have a professional do it, however. A pro can perform a more thorough audit and will know the full range of solutions for any opportunities uncovered.
Prime targets for the audit are doors and windows. Drafts around windows and doors indicate air leakage. A simple way to check for drafts indoors is to use a lighted stick of incense. If the air is leaking around these openings, the smoke from the incense will waver. Check also around baseboards, electrical outlets and switch plates, all of which can be sources of leakage. Caulking and weather stripping should be used to seal any leaks, and inexpensive foam inserts for outlet and plate covers are available at hardware and home improvement stores. Storm windows and storm doors help reduce the entry of cold air. If your windows are old, consider replacing them with high performance ones. Most window companies will provide a free estimate.
Outside the house, check exterior caulking around doors and windows. Also check for other possible sources of leakage at places where different building materials meet, such as the foundation and siding. These should be sealed with the appropriate material, as should any cracks in the foundation. Any holes where wiring or pipes enter the house should also be caulked.
Insulation plays a crucial role in maintaining the temperature throughout the house, particularly the unheated space behind walls, floors and ceilings. Upgrading and adding insulation to attic and basement walls is relatively simple since these walls are typically unfinished. To assess the need for insulation for finished walls on your home’s exterior, use a flashlight to look behind an electrical outlet. You should be able to see the insulation and remove a piece to check its thickness. If additional insulation is required for finished walls, a professional may be able to add loose fill insulation with special blow-in equipment.
Auditing your home’s energy leakage and taking action now is a change that will pay back in all seasons through reduced costs to keep your home at comfortable temperatures.