Doing Your Own Home Energy Checkup

energy audit

Feeling the pinch of rising energy bills? You’re not alone. But before you resign yourself to another month of shock, consider taking matters into your own hands with a DIY home energy checkup. This simple yet powerful exercise can unveil hidden energy guzzlers in your home, equip you with actionable insights, and empower you to make smart changes that save you money and boost your comfort.

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What is a home energy checkup?

A home energy checkup, also known as an energy audit, energy assessment, or electricity audit, evaluates your home’s energy use and efficiency. It helps you identify areas where you’re wasting energy and provides recommendations for improvement.

DIY or Pro: Choosing your assessment approach

There are two main paths to conducting a home energy assessment:

  • DIY approach: This involves using readily available tools and resources to gather information and make basic improvements yourself. Perfect for budget-conscious homeowners or those comfortable with a hands-on approach.
  • Professional approach: Hiring a certified energy auditor provides a comprehensive assessment with detailed reports and recommendations. Ideal for homes with complex energy systems or those seeking a more in-depth analysis

Why go DIY?

  • Save money: Professional audits can be expensive, while a DIY checkup is free – just grab some paper and a curious mind!
  • Empower yourself: Take control of your energy use and understand how your home ticks in efficiency.
  • Identify quick wins: Discover simple fixes like leaky windows or inefficient appliances you can tackle immediately.

Whether you conduct a professional audit or a DIY one, the benefits are undeniable:

  • Reduced energy bills: By pinpointing inefficiencies, you can make targeted changes that lead to significant cost savings on your monthly energy bills.
  • Increased comfort: A more energy-efficient home is often more comfortable, with consistent temperatures and improved air quality.
  • Environmental impact: Reducing energy consumption benefits the planet by lowering greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Enhanced home value: Energy-efficient homes are increasingly attractive to buyers, potentially boosting your home’s resale value.

Conducting your DIY home energy checkup

Your DIY checkup can be as simple or thorough as you like. Here’s a basic framework to get you started:

1. Analyse your utility bills

Your utility bills hold valuable clues about your home’s energy consumption. Track your energy usage over several months to identify seasonal trends or spikes. Look for unusual increases that might indicate inefficiencies. 

Several online tools and apps can help you track your energy use and set goals.

2. Inspect your home envelope

Your home’s envelope refers to the exterior walls, roof, and windows that keep the elements out and conditioned air in. Check for leaks, drafts, and inadequate insulation.

  • Feel for drafts around windows and doors. A lit incense stick can help you pinpoint the source.
  • Inspect weatherstripping and caulking around windows and doors. Replace worn-out seals to prevent air leaks.
  • Check your attic insulation. Aim for at least R-38 in colder climates and R-19 in warmer regions.

3. Scrutinise your major appliances

Your heating and cooling systems, water heaters, and major appliances like refrigerators and washing machines are significant energy consumers.

  • Schedule regular maintenance for your HVAC system. A well-maintained system operates more efficiently.
  • Check the temperature settings on your water heater. Lowering the temperature slightly can save energy without compromising comfort. If you have a hot water system, set the thermostat to an efficient temperature. Consider solar hot water systems for significant savings in sunny Australia.
  • Look for the ENERGY STAR label when purchasing new appliances. These models meet strict energy efficiency standards. Read more about 6 Star Energy Ratings and Home Energy Ratings: How solar panels improve energy efficiency.
electricity audit

4. Illuminate your lighting

Lighting accounts for a significant portion of your energy bill.

  • Replace traditional incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs. LEDs offer superior energy efficiency and last much longer.
  • Utilise natural light whenever possible. Open curtains and blinds during the day to brighten your home naturally.
  • Turn off lights when leaving a room. This simple habit can make a big difference.

5. Power down phantom loads

Even electronics in standby mode consume energy, also known as phantom loads.

  • Unplug chargers and appliances when not in use. Consider using power strips with on/off switches for easy control.
  • Enable power management settings on your devices. These settings can put devices into sleep mode when not actively used.
energy audit

Additional tips:

  • Encourage your family to participate in the energy-saving effort. Make it a fun and educational experience for everyone.
  • Check out government programs and rebates offered in your state. Australia has various initiatives to support energy efficiency upgrades, from free advice to financial incentives.
  • Connect with your local utility company for energy-saving tips and resources.
  • Borrow a Home Energy Toolkit from your local library for more in-depth analysis. These toolkits often include power meters, thermometers, and guides to help you dive deeper.
  • Consider investing in tools like a home energy meter or thermal leak detector for a more in-depth DIY checkup. These gadgets can provide valuable data about your home’s energy use and pinpoint specific heat loss areas.

Remember… even small changes can yield big results

Remember, even small changes can make a big difference! By conducting your home energy checkup, you’ll gain valuable insights into your home’s energy usage and empower yourself to make informed decisions that reduce your energy bills and improve your home’s comfort and environmental impact. 

This is just a starting point. Feel free to explore further resources and tailor your audit to your home and needs. So go forth, conduct your DIY home energy checkup, and unlock the power of energy efficiency! Happy energy sleuthing!

Read more about energy efficiency

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