Ultimate Guide to Home Energy Audits

If you're looking for ways to redraw your home energy consumption, you might consider a home energy audit to pinpoint problem areas. See more pictures of green living.
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With oil prices skyrocketing, and concerns over the environment at an all-time high, it's no wonder that people want to conserve energy. Making your home more energy efficient will not only reduce its carbon footprint but could also save you a lot of money -- shaving as much as 30 percent or more off your energy bills [source: DIY Network].

You think of your house or apartment as a solid foundation surrounded by sturdy walls. Though it can protect you from the elements, your home is not an impenetrable barrier. Cracks and crevices in windows, doors, walls, chimneys and pipes can create drafts, which force your heating and cooling system to work overtime. Insulation acts like a sweater to keep the heat inside your home, but if that sweater isn't thick enough (which is a problem especially in older homes), it won't do much to keep your home warm. And appliances can be real energy drainers if they're old or overworked.

Doing a home energy audit is an easy way to see how much energy your house is using --and losing -- every day. It can help you spot problems and take the right steps to improve your home's efficiency. Depending on your goals and budget, you can either do the audit yourself or pay a professional to do it for you.

So let's say you're ready to audit your home. Where do you start? In the next section, we'll find out.