Home Performance Energy Audit
Energy improvements through a Home Performance with ENERGY STAR can:
Save you money
- Homes that have been improved through HPwES cost significantly less to heat and cool.
- Home energy savings can range from 10-40%.
Make you more comfortable
- Foaming, caulking, weatherstripping, and adding insulation can help to eliminate drafts and air pockets that cause uncomfortable cold spots and overheated rooms.
- Many homeowners report reduced dust in their homes after completing HPwES projects.
Improve your home’s ventilation and humidity control
- Sealing air leaks and installing correctly-sized, energy-efficient heating and cooling equipment can dramatically increase the feeling of comfort in your home.
- Improved ventilation and humidity control can also reduce your home’s potential for mold.
Reduce your home’s environmental impact
- Most energy used in our homes comes from burning fossil fuels (coal and natural gas) that produce greenhouse gases (such as carbon dioxide and methane, which trap heat in the atmostphere). By saving energy, you reduce your home’s contribution to greenhouse gases.
- A modest 20% energy savings in a typical northeast home can save 6,350 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2), the equivalent of taking half a car off the road.
Sealing air leaks and adding insulation
Would you walk outside on a cold day with your jacket unzipped? Air sealing your home is like zipping up your jacket.
Sealing air leaks will make your home more comfortable and significantly reduce your energy bills.
Many air leaks in homes are more obvious:
- Electrical outlets
But other areas are even more significant sources of air leaks:
- Recessed light fixtures
Along with air sealing, your contractor may recommend that you add insulation. Many older homes are not well-insulated, and some have no insulation at all! Even new homes frequently have improperly installed or missing insulation.
Properly installed insulation in walls, floors, and attics:
- Moderates temperatures throughout the house
- Results in a quieter, more comfortable living space
- Makes your home easier and cheaper to heat and cool
Number one rule in air sealing – air seal before you insulate!
In houses with forced air heating and cooling systems, ducts are used to distribute conditioned air throughout the house. (You do not have forced a forced air system if you have radiant floor heating, radiators or electric baseboards.)
In a typical house, about 20 percent of the air that moves through the duct system is lost due to leaks, holes, and poorly connected ducts. The result is higher utility bills and difficulty keeping the house comfortable, no matter how the thermostat is set.
How do you know that your home has poorly performing ducts?
- You have high summer and winter utility bills.
- You have rooms that are difficult to heat and cool.
- You have stuffy rooms that never seem to feel comfortable.
- Your ducts are located in an attic, crawlspace, or the garage.
- You find tangled or kinked flexible ducts in your system.
Benefits of Duct Sealing
A duct system that is well-designed and properly sealed can make your home more comfortable and energy efficient. Properly sealed ducts will also make the air in your home cleaner and healthier to breathe.
Simple Steps to Improving Duct Performance
Because ducts are often concealed in walls, ceilings, attics, and basements, repairing them can be difficult. But, there are things that you can do to improve duct performance in your house.
- Start by making sure there are no disconnected ducts. If there are, reconnect them with a zip tie or screws.
- Seal air leaks using mastic sealant or metal tape and insulating all the ducts that you can access (such as those in attics, crawlspaces, unfinished basements, and garages).
- Never use duct tape. Sealing ducts is ironically the one thing duct tape should not be used for.
- Make sure that the connections at vents and registers are well-sealed where they meet the floors, walls, and ceiling.
- Insulate all ducts located in crawlspaces, attics, garages or unconditioned basements to at least R-6.
- Many homeowners choose to work with a professional contractor for duct improvement projects. The cost for sealing duct work varies greatly based on the required work, but usually costs between $500 and $2500.
Improving your air ducts
Many homes have leaky ductwork and poor air flow, resulting in stuffy and uncomfortable rooms. Sealing and insulating ductwork often solves this problem.
Your home performance contractor may recommend the following energy-efficient home improvements:
- Sealing ducts with a heavy tape such as mastic, durable foil-backed tape, or aerosol-based sealant
- Insulating ductwork in attics, crawlspaces and unconditioned basements
- Balancing the duct system to circulate air to all rooms
Improving your home’s heating and cooling systems
When it comes to heating and cooling equipment, bigger is not always better. A properly sized unit will make your home more comfortable by providing more consistent temperatures and better humidity control.
Also, if your furnace or air conditioner is more than 10 years old, your contractor may recommend that you replace it with a unit that has earned the ENERGY STAR label. Installed correctly, these high-efficiency units can save up to 20% on heating and cooling costs.
How to heat your home efficiently
Your home uses half of its energy in heating and cooling. To make you and your family more comfortable (and energy efficient!), take these steps.
Change your air filter regularly
- A dirty filter will slow down air flow and make the system work harder to keep you warm or cool which wastes energy.
- Check your filter every month and change the filter at least every 3 months.
Tune up your HVAC equipment yearly
- Just as a tune-up for your car can improve your gas mileage, a yearly tune-up of your heating and cooling system can improve efficiency and comfort. The tune-up generally costs around $200. Get your HVAC tuned-up at least once/year.
Seal your heating and cooling ducts
- Sealing and insulating ducts that move air to and from a forced air furnace, central air conditioner, or heat pump can improve the efficiency of your heating and cooling system by as much as 20 percent — and sometimes much more.
- Focus first on sealing ducts that run through the attic, crawlspace, unheated basement, or garage. Use duct sealant (mastic) or metal-backed (foil) tape to seal the seams and connections of ducts.
- See ENERGY STAR ’s Duct Sealing brochure (1.13MB) for more information.
Install ENERGY STAR qualified heating and cooling equipment
- If your furnace or boiler is more than 15-years old, you will likely need to replace it. If your central air conditioner or heat pump is more than 12 years old , consider replacing it.
- When replacing HVAC equipment, make sure it is sized properly. If the unit is too large for your home, you will be less comfortable and might actually have higher utility bills.
Ask your contractor to use Manual J ®, the industry standard residential energy load calculation method, to right size your unit.
Adding renewable energy
To further reduce your utility bills, your contractor may also recommend adding renewable energy systems such as:
- Solar electric (photovoltaic)
- Solar hot water
- Ground source heat pump
- Small wind turbine