DIY Energy Audits 101
Where to start? Work from the top down. Begin in your attic or highest floor, and work your way down to the first floor or basement.
1. Insulation and air leaks (drafts) – According to the Department of Energy, improving your home’s insulation and sealing air leaks are the fastest and most cost effective ways to reduce energy waste and make the most of your energy dollars. Check to see whether there is sufficient insulation in the attic. Are openings containing piping, ductwork and chimney sealed?
2. Electronic devices –Inventory all of the electronic devices you have and how often you use them. Computers, printers, DVD players, phones and gaming consoles are notorious “vampire power” users – they drain energy even when not in use. If items can be turned off without disrupting your lifestyle, consider plugging them into a power strip that can be turned on and off (or put on a timer).
3. Lighting – Note where you still have incandescent lights. Can you replace them with CFL or LED upgrades? Do you have night lights? If so, consider replacing them with LED night lights. Are there places where you can install motion sensor lights in low use areas, such as a closet, porch or garage?
4. Thermostat/indoor temperature – Do you have a programmable thermostat? When was the last time it was programmed? Is the date and time correct? If they are not, this could throw off the automatic settings. Is it set so the temperature is higher during the day and/or times when no one is home and at night when people are sleeping? Consider raising the temperature a few degrees (78 degrees is our recommendation).
5. Appliances and cleaning– Appliances are large energy users, and if yours are more than 10 years old, they are likely not as energy efficient as today’s options. How and when you use them also make a difference. Do you wash your clothes in hot water, or can you use cold water instead? Do you use your washer, dryer or dishwasher during the day? Consider running them at night, during off-peak times. Does your hot water heater have a blanket? If not, consider insulating it. Make sure your dryer vent isn’t blocked – this will not only save energy, it may also prevent a fire.
Utilize OEC's Tools
We offer several tools to assist you in your DIY energy audit. First, www.TogetherWeSave.com (link is external) highlights areas of potential savings in its virtual home tour. Download the MyUsage (link is external) mobile app and link it to your electric account to see daily and hourly meter readings in helpful graphs that show your home’s peak usage times. From there, pinpoint specific actions your family can take to reduce those numbers and watch the dollars you save add up. You can also download the Energy Audit Handbook for helpful checklists and a walk-through guide. It can be found at www.okcoop.org (link is external).
Another useful tool is the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory's Home Energy Saver, (link is external) an online energy-use analyzer developed for the U.S. Department of Energy. Users can get instant initial estimates for typical and efficient homes in their geographical area or customized results based on self-provided information. The more detailed the information, the more comprehensive the feedback. The service also identifies potential energy-saving strategies and estimates cost-effectiveness.
For general information about energy audits, visit the Department of Energy's (link is external) website.
Taking Savings to the Next Level
If you would like to take your audit and savings to the next level, contact OEC’s Energy Efficiency Solutions Specialist Daniel Lofland at (405)217-6631.