Performing a personal energy audit is a great way for you to review energy usage in past years, discovering where you can decrease usage in order to decrease bills. Plus, it’s also a great way to promote your energy savings to potential buyers when selling your home!
To begin, follow these first steps to create a do-it-yourself energy audit:
- Organize the past few years of your energy bills into spreadsheets by writing down how much energy you used and what the energy bill cost each month of each year. Separate into categories when available, such as heating costs, cooling costs, lighting costs, etc. To obtain old energy bill records, call your utility company’s customer service number.
- Study the data to see where your energy costs fluctuated, and why. Highlight trends that you notice, such as your lighting costs increasing every December when the daylight hours become shorter and the holiday lights are turned on each night. Do you always use more energy in specific months? Did the charge from your utility company increase? This will help you determine what is causing the bill to fluctuate and where you can cut the most costs.
Once you have your past energy bill costs laid out in an organized fashion, begin investigating your home for areas that need energy-saving improvements.
- If you have purchased or are purchasing energy-saving products, such as fluorescent light bulbs, Energy Star appliances or eco-friendly insulation, write down when you installed or are installing these items. Mark down how much the product cost you, and how much you save compared to prior months.
- Locate air leaks around your doors or windows by walking around with a stick of incense. If the smoke rapidly moves at any point, outside air may have caused the movement. You can caulk cracks or add insulation to these areas and then reevaluate your energy costs afterward.
- Turn your thermostat a few degrees lower for a month, replace dirty furnace filters or old air-conditioning coils, clean air vents, and close vents in rooms that are rarely used for a month. Evaluate the change in your heating or cooling costs after making these changes.
- Purchase a kilowatt-hour electric usage monitor to see how much energy your electronics use. You plug the monitor into a wall socket, and then you plug your electronic into the monitor. The monitor tells you how much energy the device is using, and how much the device is costing you. This is ideal for kitchen appliances and large stereos or televisions. Once you see what is using the most energy, replace those items, unplug items when they aren’t being used, or turn down the temperature of items, such as your refrigerator or freezer.
- Pay attention to how much you use your lights. Is your bill cheaper in the summer because of shorter days? Try replacing your bulbs with fluorescent bulbs, or turning on reading lamps instead of overhead lighting, and match up the same month in previous years when reviewing your savings.
- Each time you replace an item with an upgraded and/or energy-efficient item, mark it in your data. Each time you evaluate your home, such as testing for air leaks or vacuuming dust out of air vents, mark it in your data so you know when you completed these evaluations and when you’ll need to do it again next year. Pay attention to when your energy bills decrease, and figure out which changes caused the most significant savings.
Creating an energy audit will not only help you keep track of your savings, and figure out where you use the most energy, but it will also help you sell your home when that time comes. By having all of this information available for potential homebuyers, you can prove that your energy-efficient upgrades have decreased energy bill costs for them in the future.