Home Energy Audit – Do it Yourself

Via Liz Benson
on Feb 16, 2009
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You may have heard about Home Energy Audits. You hire someone to come out to your house and evaluate how much energy you are using now, what steps you could take to save energy, how much those steps will cost you, and finally how much money and energy you could save by making the recommended changes.

I found a helpfulwebsite, energysavers.gov, operated by the U.S. Dept. of Energy that allows you to do much of that for yourself. I completed the survey in about a half hour and the site gave me specific recommendations, the estimated cost savings and the return on my investment. It will even calculate your home’s carbon footprint. Mine contributes 31,467 lbs of CO2 per year – ugh!

My house was built in 1984 and the furnace, hot water heater and kitchen appliances are all original, so that is where I could see substantial savings. For example, if I were to replace my dishwasher with an energy star rated one, I would pay about $30 extra for that dishwasher compared to a non energy star appliance, but I would re-coup those savings in 3 years – not bad. I would prefer to keep my existing appliances until they die, but, given their age, that probably won’t be long.

Some other inexpensive changes also pay off big. The biggest is switching to a programmable thermostat (and actually programming it). My audit showed a 667% return on that investment. Adding insulation to the ducts in my attic would give me a 172% return and the super easy addition of compact flourescent light bulbs (CFL’s), yields a 107% return. They calculate the return as the amount of money saved over the lifetime of that upgrade. One catch – the savings are compared to buying a non-energy efficient upgrade, not $ saved compared to keeping your old stuff.

I also could use improved air sealing (ie. weatherstripping, caulk etc). For the sake of my border collie, Star, I am not willing to give up our dog door even though that is a huge, gaping air leak.

The site also tells you how to find a certified home energy rater if you want to go the professional route plus lots more energy saving tips.

I have already swapped out my light bulbs for CFL’s, I lower my thermostat manually and plan to replace my appliances as they die out with energy star ones. When the furnace goes someday, I will definitely spring for the 90% efficient new one too. In the meantime, I am off to McGuckins for some caulk and one of those stuffed snake shaped door draft stoppers.

blog by elephant’s realtor – Liz Benson


About Liz Benson

Liz Benson is a Realtor/EcoBroker with Colorado Landmark Realtors based in Boulder, CO. She is also Mom to a lovely teenage daughter and an energetic border collie. When not juggling those duties, she enjoys travel, riding her vintage cruiser and DIY home improvements.


6 Responses to “Home Energy Audit – Do it Yourself”

  1. Great article, you can still build yourself a more airtight dog door – as an architect that does his own blowerdoor tests, this hole is too big to ignore! if you need drawings send me a note.

  2. Brian, I’d love an article or something on an airtight dog/cat door, you don’t have to give away your secrets, but that’s something in many homes in America—an important subject, heating efficiency-wise.

  3. I have several friends & colleagues who own & work for professional energy audit companies, and they would probably rather NOT see an article as informative as this one get spread around … ?! But I honestly didn’t know about DIY home energy audits, and greatly appreciate this info -> Thanks!

    AND if you’re even thinking about getting solar panels, a home energy audit (either DIY or professional) is absolutely essential for getting the most out of those panels.

    As the great Amory Lovins has shown us: the cheapest, cleanest, most reliable, and most abundant source of energy available is “negawatts,” or the energy you don’t need because your home/building, appliances, vehicles, etc. are so EFFICIENT that they don’t need the extra … !

    My $.02 / Thanks . . . PvH

    Phil von Hake
    Communications Director
    Colorado Renewable Energy Society

  4. Liz Benson says:

    Phil is absolutely right that you should get a professional audit if you are adding solar panels or other on-site renewable energy. I would also suggest that you get a professional audit if you are doing a major remodel too. Planning energy efficiency into your design will make for a more comfortable and cost efficient final project.

  5. […] on them? Besides the stage lights, vendor stands, bathrooms, walkways, and the parking lot all use energy for lighting. Considering the actual concert performance length is around 2 hours, plus pre-show and post-show […]

  6. […] the U.S. Dept of Energy plan  and the Colorado plan for the rebate money.  Check out the Do It Yourself Home Energy Audit to see how much money you can expect to save in energy […]