Human beings appreciate efficiency in all things. This trait has served us well, leading us to create streamlined equipment, processes, and techniques across every one of our endeavors. Now, it’s time to put our love of efficiency to use to keep our planet healthy, comfortable, and safe for as many vulnerable people as possible. 

The electricity we use to power our homes and the fuel we rely on to keep them heated and cooled is responsible for 20% of the greenhouse gas emissions that are warming our planet. That means that in addition to saving up to 30% on your energy costs, improving your home’s energy efficiency will contribute to a better world. 

To get started, we suggest that homeowners work through a home energy audit checklist. Home energy audits are typically performed by professionals, but the truth is that each homeowner can perform a large percentage of a home energy audit independently. Today, we’re sharing a rundown of the most common ways the American home is losing expensive energy, all of which you can check out yourself over a weekend.


1.) Check Your Building Envelope

When you think about keeping your home at the optimal temperature, you likely think about your insulation. First, though, you’ll need to make sure your home’s first layer of defense isn’t compromised—and that’s your home’s envelope. Your roof, ceiling, walls, windows, doors, and foundation all must be functioning well, or you’re losing money every day.

Examine each of the above as well as plumbing fixtures, pipes, and electrical outlets. If air is escaping through any openings, it’s imperative that you find and seal each leak. Depending on the location of the leak, you can use spray foam, weatherstripping, or caulking. The most expensive repairs and replacements are typically those required for your roof, foundation, or whole-home window replacement.

Still, until your home’s envelope is sealed, any adjustments you make regarding HVAC, insulation, or type of energy sourced won’t be worthwhile.


2.) Check Your Ventilation Points and Capabilities

In tandem with your home seal improvements, you’ll want to check for dangerous indoor air pollution and “backdrafts” caused by combustion appliances and exhaust fans competing for clean air. For example, combustion gasses can be drawn back into your home by an exhaust fan, thus raising, rather than reducing, your home’s levels of life-threatening carbon monoxide.

Does your home consume propane, fuel oil, natural gas, or wood for heating or cooking? If so, these appliances require one square inch of properly efficient ventilation for each 1,000 Btu of appliance input. If you observe soot residue or scorch marks, whether around your appliance or at the vent, your ventilation is inadequate. If that’s the case, a professional should be called.


3.) Check Your HVAC System

Every year, your HVAC system is due for a checkup. A home’s HVAC is the most expensive system to operate. To keep your HVAC running efficiently between inspections, plug leaks with duct tape, replace filters promptly, and ensure that ducts and pipes within unheated zones are fully insulated.


4.) Check Your Insulation

Your home’s insulation is essential for keeping your living spaces at an ideal temperature with maximum efficiency. Check insulation levels in your attic, crawl spaces, and inside your walls. If your insulation is looking compacted, torn, or simply wasn’t installed thick enough to begin with, you may want to supplement or replace your insulation.


5.) Check Your Lightbulbs

LEDs are the undisputed lighting champions for residences. Available in a vast array of hues, shapes, sizes, and intensities, all LEDs are cool to the touch, use a fraction of the energy consumed by an incandescent bulb, and last longer than CFLs. Even if you take a gradual approach, swapping your existing bulbs out for LEDs has nothing but positive effects.


6.) Check Your Water Heater

Touch your water heater. If it feels warm, it needs an insulating blanket to ensure you aren’t wasting money on heat that’s leaking into the surrounding room.

To save on costs, reduce your water temperature to 120 degrees. Your showers will still be steamy, but you won’t be paying to heat your water hotter than it needs to be.


7.) Check the Efficiency Rating of Your Appliances

Your appliances take a substantial amount of water and energy to run, which is why opting for ENERGY STAR-rated models will help you conserve. If you’re replacing any appliances this year, make sure you’re shopping for efficient, high-performing designs.


8.) Check Your Refrigerator’s Seal

Unless your refrigerator is very new, it’s a good idea to make sure the seal around its doors is still holding on tight. To check, slip a sheet of paper between the refrigerator and the door beneath the seal. Close the door, then see how much force it takes to pull the paper free.

If it slips out with little resistance, it’s time for a replacement seal or—especially if yours is about 15 years old—a new refrigerator.


9.) Create a Whole-Home Plan

Once you’re finished with your checklist, create a practical plan of action. Getting organized from the jump will make your process go smoothly. List the steps you want to take in the order you wish to take them, then create a budget to manage the costs.


10.) Consider Hiring a Professional to Help

Professional home energy auditors will bring in specialty tools to check every function in every area of your home. Odds are, they’ll find things you’ll otherwise miss. Additionally, a pro will put your mind at ease by delivering a same-day assessment.

Whether you live in a home that’s over 50 years old or are just worried about your ever-increasing home energy costs, it may well be worth having a professional weigh in.


Thank you for visiting us here at Parks. We appreciate your interest in optimizing your home’s energy consumption.

Are you a homeowner who has gone through this process? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below. Your thoughts on your experience are sure to help a fellow homeowner here in beautiful Middle Tennessee.

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