Prepare Your Finances for Winter: Home Energy Audit

One of the ways that you can save money this winter and help the environment is through a home energy audit. A home energy audit can help you figure out where you have energy issues and leaks, and can help you find ways to reduce energy loss. Many local utility companies can help you with an energy audit for little to no cost.

An energy audit will do more than help the environment by helping you find ways to improve your energy use: It will also save you money on heating and electric bills. And in this economy, most of us need all the help we can get as we head into winter.

Do your own energy audit

While it is possible to have someone else do your energy audit, you can also do your own and save money on paying someone else to do it. The U.S. Department of Energy has a list of things you can do to conduct your own home energy audit:

  • Consider air leaks. Check your home for places where cold air can sneak in. This includes windows and doors, fireplace dampers, attic hatches, on-roof air conditioners, baseboards, switch plates and electrical outlets. Gaps around pipes and wires can also be a problem.
  • Insulation. Double check your insulation levels. Adding more insulation can keep heat from escaping at a higher rate. Also, you can check for a vapor barrier, which also helps with insulation.
  • Furnace and other heating equipment. Check to make sure that your heating equipment is up to date. If it is more than 15 years old, recommends the DOE, you might think of replacing it. Ideally, someone should inspect it every year to make sure that it is running efficiently.
  • Lighting. In rooms where you have light bulbs for long periods of time (more than 15 minutes at a time) consider CFL bulbs. These can help reduce your bill. Also, check the bulbs. 100 watt bulbs consumer a lot more energy than 60 watt bulbs. Also, during the window, consider opening blinds during the day, since it lets in natural light and heat.

Miranda Marquit writes on personal finance for the AllBusiness Personal Finance Corner