Bulletin #7212, Maine Home Energy: How to Do an Energy Evaluation

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Developed by Extension Professor Kathy Hopkins, University of Maine Cooperative Extension. Reviewed by Extension Professor Donna Coffin, University of Maine Cooperative Extension.

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setting the thermostat

A home energy evaluation can help you determine how to increase energy efficiency and reduce energy use in your home. You can do your own evaluation if you just want to find some ways to make a difference in your energy usage. If you want a comprehensive understanding of your energy usage and the best ways to save—or if you need a formal audit to apply for rebates, loans, or grant funds—you will need to hire a certified energy auditor. The Maine State Housing Authority maintains a list of certified energy auditors; visit MaineHousing or call 800.452.4668.

Use the following checklist to do your own home energy evaluation. Then follow the steps outlined below the checklist to decide what kinds of energy-saving improvements make sense for your situation.

Evaluation Checklist for Home Energy Use

Name: _____________________________________________________

Housing:  House_____  Apartment_____ Condo_____ Mobile home_____

Approximate square feet:  _____________________________________

Foundation: Basement or Cellar______ Slab_______ Crawlspace______

Energy Usuage

Units used per year   Energy cost per unit
Electricity_____kwh/year _____$/kwh
Natural gas_____therms/year _____$/therm
LP gas
_____gallons/year _____$/gal
_____cords/year _____$/cord
_____tons/year _____$/ton
_____gallons/year _____$/gal
_____gallons/year _____$/gal
_____/year _____$/
Joints and PenetrationsYes NoComments
With draft detector (incense stick, feather, tissue taped to stick) check for drafts at outside openings, cracks, and air leaks between house and foundation, as well as in cellar or crawl space. Drafts observed?   
Check for drafts at other openings: plumbing pipes through walls; exhaust fans in kitchen or bathroom; chimney or pipes going through walls, ceilings, or roof. Drafts observed?   
Draft detector moves at edges of doors and windows, especially on windy days?   
Draft detector moves at electrical outlets?   
Cracks in walls and foundations sealed and holes plugged? Broken windows, rotted boards, and window sashes fixed and in good repair?   
Cellar doors insulated and tight-sealing?   
Fireplace damper closed when fireplace not being used?   
Fireplace fitted with glass doors that are closed when in use, to keep room air from going up the chimney?   
Attic vents (unfinished attic) open summer and winter?   
Cracks and/or joints around windows, doors, stairways, pipes, and electrical wires caulked?   
Weather stripping around doors and windows?   
Air-lock entryway, double door, or insulated storm door at each outside entrance?   
Insulation Yes NoComments
Insulated curtains or sealable window shutters or shades in use?   
Floors covered with rugs or padded carpeting?   
Ceilings and walls insulated? How much?   
Vapor barrier (plastic, foil, or heavy brown paper) between heated space and insulation?   
Insulation between slab or unheated basement and first floor?   
Basement walls and/or sill plate insulated?   
Hot water pipes and hot air ducts insulated?   
Storm windows in place and tightly sealed? If no storm windows, are temporary plastic windows installed?   
Is hot water tank insulated?   
Home MaintenanceYes NoComments
Faucets don’t drip (especially hot water faucets)?   
Low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators installed?   
Programmable thermostat adjusted to lower temperature at night and when away?   
Radiators and baseboard fins clean and dust free?   
Heating ducts, grills, or radiators not blocked by furniture, rugs, curtains?   
Windows clean to allow maximum solar gain in winter?   
Furnace cleaned and serviced before winter heating season? Filter changed or vacuumed once a month?   
Cooking done in the microwave oven or most energy-efficient appliance?   
Walls and ceilings painted or papered in light colors to reflect natural light?   
Most lighting fluorescent?   

Now that you have completed your checklist, you can use it to evaluate potential energy-saving improvements. When checking your home for ways to save energy, remember that while you may be able to do some energy-saving improvements yourself, you may need to hire a professional for more complicated, technical, or difficult tasks.

Step One—Collect, review, and evaluate information:

  • Collect your last year’s worth of energy bills to review your home’s energy use.
  • Using the checklist above, consider the energy-saving techniques or strategies you might implement.
  • Evaluate the cost and the potential payback of any high-cost changes, such as buying new appliances, before investing.

Step Two—Consider these specific energy-saving improvements:

  • Joints and penetrations: caulk, seal, or weather-strip to block air infiltration.
  • Insulation: check to see how much and what kind you have, especially in the attic and cellar. Consider adding more insulation.
  • Ventilation: install (or have installed, if necessary) exhaust fans, attic vents, or roof vents to let excess moisture out.
  • Duct work: wrap pipes with insulation.
  • Doors and windows: caulk or seal, pull curtains, use indoor shutters, install indoor storms, install storm doors.
  • Heating and cooling systems: clean and upgrade, if possible, for efficiency.
  • Appliances: upgrade older appliances (clues are in the color – harvest gold, avocado, or cocoa brown may be older models). Replace with EnergyStar-rated models.
  • Water heating: insulate hot water tank with fiberglass jacket.
  • Lighting: replace incandescent bulbs with CFLs (compact fluorescent light bulbs). Consider replacing older fixtures with fluorescent or LED lighting fixtures (visit ENERGY STAR for more information).

Step Three—Develop your plan:

  • Calculate your annual heating and electricity costs, using the receipts you collected.
  • Record the improvements you plan to make.
  • Prioritize planned improvements by determining which ones will produce the most savings. (You may need to measure or estimate the size of your house as well as doors, windows, and the number and types of lighting fixtures.) The following resources can help:
    • The U.S. Department of Energy website provides home energy calculators. You can also call their Energy Information Center at 877.EERE.INF (877.337.3463).
    • Efficiency Maine’s website provides energy and money saving tips, including an energy efficiency calculator. You can also request information about energy efficiency at 866.ESMAINE (866.376.2463).

VIDEO: How Do I Do a Home Energy Audit? (YouTube)

Information in this publication is provided purely for educational purposes. No responsibility is assumed for any problems associated with the use of products or services mentioned. No endorsement of products or companies is intended, nor is criticism of unnamed products or companies implied.

© 2009, 2012

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