Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Do It Yourself Energy Audit

You can easily conduct a home energy audit yourself. With a simple thorough walk-through, you can spot many problems in any type of house. When auditing your home, keep a checklist of areas you have inspected and problems found. This will help you prioritize your task list.

I. Identify Potential Air Leaks

The potential energy savings draft reduction may range from 5% to 30% per year, and the home is generally much more comfortable afterward.

Make a list of common indoor and outdoor air leak locations some examples are: Windows and doors, baseboards, electrical outlets and switch plates, fireplaces, attic access panels, wall or window mounted A/C units or evaporative (swamp) coolers, outdoor faucets (hose bibs), penetrations through exterior walls such as: electrical, plumbing, phone and cable lines, dryer vents, etc.

II. Locate Air Leaks

Simple

Using a stick of burning incense or the dampened back of your hand check each of the locations you noted on your list. Cold air will make the smoke from the incense waver or you will be able to feel the cold air on the back of your hand.

Alternative

If you’re having trouble finding leaks you can do a simple ‘pressurization’ test by using the following steps.

1. Close all exterior doors, windows, and fireplace flues.

2. Turn OFF all combustion appliances such as gas burning furnaces and water heaters, gas fireplaces, etc. (Remember to turn them back on when you are done with the test.)

3. Turn on all exhaust fans (generally located in the kitchen and bathrooms) or use a large window fan to suck the air out of the rooms. This increases infiltration through cracks and leaks, making them easier to detect.

4. Use a burning incense stick or your damp hand to locate these leaks. Moving air causes the smoke to waver, and you will feel a draft when it cools your hand.

High Tech

If you want a high tech way to check for leaks check out this Thermal Leak Detector from Black and Decker (http://www.blackanddecker.com/ProductGuide/Product-Details.aspx?ProductID=20626) available at Ace Hardware Alameda Station

Ace Hardware - Alameda Station

417 South Broadway

Denver, Colorado 80209-1517 USA

Phone: (303) 733-3200

Hours of operation:

Monday through Saturday 8:00am to 8:00pm

Sunday 9:00am to 6:00pm

III. Locate Other Air Leaks

Windows and Doors – If doors or windows rattle or are loose in their frames you can expect air leakage. If you can see daylight around door and window frames, then the door or window leaks.

Out side - On the outside of your house, inspect all areas where two different building materials meet. For example: inspect all exterior corners; where siding and chimneys meet; and areas where the foundation and the bottom of exterior brick or siding meet.

A future post will discuss various methods for sealing different types of leaks.