One of the best ways to cut your energy bills this summer is to perform your own energy audit. It only takes a few hours, and the results will help you find the air leaks in your home that make it harder to cool in the summer and heat in the winter. Part of the audit will also show you where your attic’s insulation is lacking, which also contributes to higher energy costs year-round.
Detecting air leaks
You can do a visual inspection of your home to find the leaks. This involves looking closely around window and door frames, inspecting the sill plate that connects the foundation to the first floor, and checking anyplace where pipes, wires or cables enter your home. Recessed lights whose hardware extends into the attic can be a significant source of air leaks.
Another way to find the leaks during the energy audit is to use a DIY building pressurization test, which involves closing the house up tightly, and turning on the kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans. Walk along the inside of your home’s exterior walls with an incense stick, watching especially carefully at the aforementioned likely places for air leaks. Places where the smoke wavers more than normal could indicate air infiltration.
Once you’ve identified the source of the air leakage, note it on a piece of paper that will be useful when you go back to seal the leaks. Expanding foam is good for sealing larger leaks, while caulk works for smaller leaks. Fresh weatherstripping will seal air leaks around exterior doors and window sashes.
Federal guidelines recommend that homes in our climate have an R-value of 38 in the attic. The R stands for resistance, and the 38 specifies that the insulation can resist heat transfer for 38 hours. As you inspect your attic, look for areas where the insulation has shifted and may be thinner. Batt and blown-in insulation are inexpensive and durable, and you can either install your own or hire a contractor for this affordable project.
If you would like more information about a home energy audit and saving energy, please contact us at Ernst Heating & Cooling.We’ve provided superior HVAC services for the Metro-East area since 1954.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Hamel, Illinois and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about DIY energy audits and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
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