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What Grade Would Your Home Get in Energy Efficiency?

Although it can be easy to put off, assessing your home for energy efficiency could be a double win: The changes you make could make you more comfortable inside your home and help you save on energy bills.

Increasing energy efficiency in your home could add up, but in a good way. According to Energy.gov, sealing uncontrolled air leaks can save 10 to 20% a year on heating and cooling bills. Insulating your water heater tank can save $20 to $45 a year. In addition, using a smart or programmable thermostat to turn the temperature setting down 7 to 10 degrees for 8 hours a day in the fall and winter and up the same amount in the spring and summer can save as much as 10% a year.

A good place to start is to analyze your energy bills over the past year. You can enter that information, as well as some basic facts about your home, in an online energy-use calculator for hints about your home’s efficiency.

For the most comprehensive overview of energy efficiency in your home, you can hire a professional to conduct a home energy audit or see if your local utility offers them. In either case, the energy auditor will use a variety of specialized equipment to detect both major and minor sources of air leaks in your home.

Somewhere between an online calculator and a professional energy audit is a bit of DIY to assess your home for some common areas of heat loss. Check for:

  • Air leaks around outlets, window frames, doors, fireplace dampers and attic entry points. Sealing those leaks with caulk or weather stripping or buying specialized products such as outlet insulators can help increase your comfort while lowering energy bills.
  • Adequate attic insulation for your location and climate (see separate article on insulation);
  • HVAC system condition. Do components need new filters? Tune-ups? Replaced altogether if they are 15 years or older?

For other resources or help with your home’s efficiency, contact your utility and visit SafeElectricity.org.