A Do-It-Yourself Energy Audit Can Cut Heating Costs

From Associated Press

An energy audit of your home is one of the best ways to ensure you’re getting the most from your heating dollars. Your utility company can assist you in tracking down energy wasters, but there are many items you can check yourself. Here are some important checkpoints and additional energy saving tips:

One way to check for wall insulation from the indoor living area is to remove a switch plate on an exterior wall. Shine a flashlight around the switch box to see if there is insulation. Better yet, make a small hole in an exterior wall (in a closet or other hidden location) and measure the insulation. Then patch the hole.

Adding insulation to the walls of an existing home is costly and difficult to do thoroughly. A contractor uses special equipment to blow in insulation from holes bored in the walls. However, if you plan to re-side your house, installing rigid board insulation before applying siding is cost-effective.

Insulation on the foundation of the house, whether you have a basement, crawl space or slab foundation, is often overlooked. Insulation applied on the house exterior to cover the exposed foundation and to extend one foot below ground level is effective.


Other energy conservation measures for the foundation include caulking the sill plate where the sill meets the foundation blocks in a basement, and insulating the header above the sill plate.

The energy efficiency of your home depends to a large extent on efficiently operating heating and cooling systems. In winter you should keep the thermostat at 68 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 60 7/8 degrees at night.

The elderly, infants and people who are ill require higher temperatures.

A clock thermostat, which automatically lowers the heat when you’re in bed and raises it before your rising in the morning, aids in your comfort and convenience. Check radiators or registers to see that they are free of dust and not obstructed.

If you have gas-fired heating equipment, have the unit cleaned every two to three years by a service technician. From time to time you should check the burner plates to see if the unit is firing properly, because gas ports can become clogged with rust or dust. If you have a furnace, clean or replace air filters once a month during heating season.

Have your water heater--the second-largest energy consumer in the home--drained periodically to remove sediment. Insulate the hot-water pipes and the water tank.

Be sure to keep insulation away from the pilot light and controls. Repair faucet leaks as soon as they occur. Finally, consider installing flow restrictors in shower heads and faucets.