If you are eco-conscious, that means you are concerned about your impact on the earth. And that extends to your personal energy use. Therefore, as an eco-conscious homeowner, it's a good idea to have an energy audit.

What Is an Energy Audit?

Essentially, an energy audit on your home means going over it in detail, noting any areas of energy ineff iciency. For example, you would look at your home's insulation, windows, doors, lighting, and appliances. You'd also check your water heater, pipes, and heating and cooling system for signs of inefficiency and energy waste.

Do It Yourself

You can conduct an energy audit yourself. You will need to take notes, and inform yourself on just what you are looking for. Here are some tips:

* Insulation is not just pink fluff in the attic. When you audit your insulation, you will need to check your home's walls, the basement or second storey ceiling, and the attic. For example, you may have an attached garage at your house. If the ceiling of the garage is not insulated, cold air will penetrate to the room above it. Check existing insulation for leaks.

* Lighting is a big source of waste in some homes. Look for any rooms that have high-wattage, incandescent bulbs in them. Also look for ways to let in more natural light.

* Windows and doors will need to be scrutinized. If you don't have up-to-date windows and doors, seal leaks with caulk or weather stripping.

* Your hot water heater can be a source of energy waste. Insulate it with bubble wrap or special material available from your local utility company. Check your hot water pipes and insulate them with foam if they are not already. Replace worn foam.

Hire a Professional

There are certified home energy auditors out there, and you might consider having one come to your home. They will go into detail and will undoubtedly cover things you would miss. He or she will have special equipment for detecting air and heat leaks that you could not detect on your own.

For example, home energy auditors have infrared cameras that can show heat loss too subtle for you to feel, and they have calibrated "blower doors." These are enormous fans that fit into your doorway, and they draw out so much air that the air pressure decreases inside your home. The higher air pressure outside means that air will rush in through even the tiniest cracks in order to equalize the pressure, thus revealing air leaks.

Your auditor will most likely want to go over your utility bills with you, so gather up the past year's records. Let the auditor know of any existing problems, such as a room that never seems to get warm or hot water that runs out after only a few minutes of use.

Whether you do it yourself or hire someone, a home energy audit is essential for eco-conscious homeowners.

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