CommunityHome Energy Inefficiency: A home energy audit can detect areas for improvement

Home Energy Inefficiency: A home energy audit can detect areas for improvement

I need some advice for my energy inefficient home. I have lived in a 1960 single-family, split-level home for about five years and during the fall and winter, my house is extremely cold and requires a lot of energy to heat. The walls are cold and I have already replaced every window in the home except one! We recently made a hole in the wall to find out if it had insulation. Although it was hard to make a determination, I believe that they are insulated but, considering the house is nearly 50 years old, I’m not quite sure how effective the insulation is.

I am concerned because my gas bill is about $600 a month and I would like to know what to do to resolve this energy inefficiency problem. I want to have a warm, cozy home without using so much heat that I hurt my pockets!

The Money Pit Answer

We feel your pain! It sounds, however, like your home's energy inefficiency problem may involve more than just window replacement and wall insulation. The inefficiency could be caused by a single issue or a combination of many issues. For example, houses built in 1960 typically have lousy attic insulation and very poor ventilation. So, besides not having enough insulation, what you do have won't insulate very well. Another issue is that you have a split-level house, an architectural style that is notoriously difficult to heat and cool evenly. As a result, some floors are overheated while others remain chilly. The problem is that there are too many possible issues for you or me to decide which one is causing the biggest energy drain.
To get to the bottom of this, I strongly recommend you do a whole-home energy audit. The US Department of Energy offers some wonderful online tools to help. For example, the Home Energy Saver tool allows you to calculate the amount of energy savings based on various home improvements. The DOE site also offers advice on both do-it-yourself and professional home energy audits.
But first, we suggest you contact your local utility company and find out if they offer a professional home energy audit service. Many utility companies do this for little or no cost, and some are even required to do so in order to maintain their operating license.