September 2007
How Energy Efficient is Your Home?

Take this quick do-it-yourself home energy audit quiz to see if your home's efficiency is up to par.

Choose the answer that most closely fits your home.


  1. My heating and cooling systems are inspected and maintained every spring and fall by a licensed contractor.
  2. My heating and cooling systems are inspected and maintained when I think about it - maybe once every three years or so.
  3. My heating and cooling systems are inspected when something goes wrong with them.
  4. I looked at my heating and cooling systems once - does that count?

Heating and cooling systems should be inspected twice a year - spring and fall - to ensure that they are functioning properly and safely. This will help with efficiency as well as life expectancy of the units.

  1. I have a new energy efficient heating system less than two years old.
  2. My system is two to five years old.
  3. My system is six to ten years old.
  4. My heating system is the same as when I moved into the house 15 or 20 years ago.

The U.S. Department of Energy requires that all new heating and cooling units meet minimum efficiency standards. These standards are raised every few years, meaning that older units generally aren't up to par. For air conditioners that are rated by SEER, or seasonal energy efficiency ratio, the DOE requires at least 13 SEER. For gas furnaces rated by AFUE, or annual fuel utilization efficiency, the government requires an AFUE of at least 78 percent, but recommends an AFUE of at least 90 percent. If your unit is older than 10 years, you might want to look into replacing it with a more energy efficient model.

  1. I change my filter every month.
  2. I change my filter every other month.
  3. I change my filter when I think about it - probably about every six months or year.
  4. What's a filter?

Most systems use filter covers and filters to minimize the accumulation of dust that can reduce system efficiency. Filters need to be changed monthly to ensure that air flows through them as needed to heat and cool your home. An air filter that is left in place too long or not covered will become plugged and will reduce air flow.

  1. I have a programmable thermostat that uses the recommended settings (or better!).
  2. I have a programmable thermostat, but I frequently override the settings.
  3. I have a digital thermostat.
  4. I have a dial thermostat.

You can save as much as 10 percent a year on your heating and cooling bills by simply turning your thermostat back 10 to 15 percent for eight hours. You can do this automatically without sacrificing comfort by installing a programmable thermostat. If you have a dial (mercury) thermostat, be sure that it's level on the wall - an out of level thermostat can be off by four degrees.

  1. All duct joints in my home are properly sealed with mastic*.
  2. Ducts in my home are only sealed with tape, not mastic.
  3. My ducts are not sealed.
  4. There is a lot of leakage at my ducts joints and large visible gaps in the system.

*Mastic is a sticky paste reinforced with fiberglass made specifically for sealing duct work.

Ducts distribute heated or conditioned air thoughout your home. If your ducts aren't properly sealed, the air you are paying for will instead leak out and condition your attic, crawl space or basement. This can reduce your system's efficiency by 50 perecent. All the ductwork connections should be sealed with UL181 tape and mastic. If the duct leakage is 20 percent of the total air flow, the efficiency of the cooling system can drop by 50 percent.

Next page: Water Heating and Water Use

Page 1: Heating and Cooling
Page 2: Water Heating and Water Use
Page 3: Lighting
Page 4: Insulation
Page 5: Air Leaks
Page 6: How'd You Do?

Read other articles from The Walton EMC Gasette:
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