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Improve the Energy Efficiency of Your Home with a Home Energy Audit

A home energy audit can be used to identify any potential weaknesses with your homes energy efficiency. You can pinpoint the most wasteful parts of your home and set your energy saving priorities and with the right upgrades you could save somewhere in the region of 5% - 30% each year on your energy bill.

Air Leaks

You can begin by checking for gaps between the baseboard or edge of the flooring and at junctures of the walls and ceiling, pipes and wires, electrical outlets, door and window frames and any external areas where two different building materials meet.

Although this manual method of searching for drafts is effective, the best means of detecting air leaks is to use a blower door test which assesses how air tight a home is. The blower door test uses a powerful fan to depressurise the home by removing the air from inside and lowering the internal air pressure. Any unsealed cracks are then exposed as the higher external air pressure filters back into the home.

Insulation

This is often more of a concern for those with older homes given that the insulation that was initially installed will have conformed to the minimum recommended levels at the time but could now fall short of the required standards. When inspecting your attic you should check to see if there is a vapour barrier. A vapour barrier or vapour diffusion retarder reduces the amount of moisture that can pass through material. Specialist vapour barrier paint can be used to paint the interior ceilings in order to reduce water vapour spreading which can lead to structural damage if left untreated.

It is more difficult to check the level of insulation in the walls of your home than it is in the attic. Chose the exterior wall you’d like to check and turn off the circuit breaker or unscrew the fuse for any outlets in the wall. When you’re certain that there’s no electricity flowing you can remove the covering plate from one of the outlets and with a long, thin implement begin to check for the insulation.

Infrared Cameras (IRCs) can be used to look through walls to identify any missing insulation and to locate potential air leaks. In order to get the best result from the scan you should ensure that there is a temperature differential of at least 20°F between the temperatures inside and outside your house.

Heating and Cooling Appliances

You should inspect all of your heating and cooling equipment annually or sooner if recommended by the manufacturer. Any unit which is older than 15 years should ideally be replaced with a more energy efficient model which will significantly increase your energy efficiency, especially if the existing model was not performing as well as it once did.

Ductwork should always be checked for any signs of dirt streaks which are an indication of air leaks and can be sealed with a duct mastic. Any ducts or pipes which pass through unheated areas should be insulated with an R-Value of 6 which is the recommended minimum.

Lighting & Electrical Appliances

10% of your electric bill is made up from energy used to power lighting. Assessing the lighting in your home will allow you to identify inefficient light bulbs which can be replaced with energy saving bulbs, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), or light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

You can assess the power required to run larger appliances such as washing machines by plugging the appliance into a watt metre to record exactly how much power is required. Energy usage from your appliances can be reduced by unplugging them, turning down the settings or reducing the load. When shopping for new appliances however, you should always consider those which carry the Energy Star logo as these are far more energy efficient and will help to reduce your energy bill in the long term.

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Jay-Jay Stephens has written this post on behalf of Kingfisher Windows, a UK based home improvement specialist with a passion for improving the look and energy efficiency of homes.