Is Your Home as Ready for Summer as You Are?

An energy rater uses a duct blower to test HVAC duct air leakage.
US DoE

Now that summer has arrived, it’s important to remember that your air conditioner can often increase your residential energy costs this season, so it’s important to make sure that your house is as efficient as it can possibly be — and not just your HVAC system!

Here are some basic tips for success.

To evaluate your home’s energy efficiency, you can either perform your own home energy assessment or hire a professional to do it for you. First, let’s cover some basics for the do-it-yourself home energy assessment.

LOCATE AND SEAL AIR LEAKS

The quickest way to waste energy and money in your home is to let the air escape, but a simple check around your windows, doors, and floors will do the trick. Whether you’re a DIY aficionado or a newbie to home improvement, you can use a smoke pencil from any home improvement store to identify leaks in the house and then use a caulking gun or weatherstripping tool to seal the problem area.

CHECK YOUR INSULATION

Depending on the age of your house and the last time you had insulation installed, you might not have the recommended amount or the optimal type of insulation for today’s climate. Also, make sure the access your attic is properly sealed and insulated with a comparable amount of insulation as the attic itself.

Checking a wall’s insulation level is more difficult. Select an exterior wall and turn off the circuit breaker or unscrew the fuse for any outlets in the wall. Once you are sure your outlets are not getting any electricity, remove the cover plate from one of the outlets and gently probe into the wall with a thin, long stick or screwdriver. If you encounter a slight resistance, you have some insulation there.

LIGHTING

Anything related to climate control in the house definitely makes up the majority of your overall energy bill, but lighting costs are not insignificant, accounting for as much as 10% of the average bill or more! Take a few minutes to phase out those old incandescent light bulbs and switch to LED bulbs.

HIRE A PROFESSIONAL HOME ENERGY ASSESSOR

If you’re really looking to boost the energy efficiency of your home, look into hiring a professional. A home energy assessment performed by a trained weatherization professional will ensure that you have all the facts you need to tackle your home’s energy problems. Wondering who to go to for such an evaluation? Make sure to talk to companies that employ workers with the national Home Energy Professional Certifications.

If you follow all of these tips, you’ll be ready for a cool summer in your energy efficient home in no time—but be sure not to miss out on the beautiful weather!

Visit Energy.gov for additional information and tips.

Prepared by the U.S. Department of Energy.