A home energy audit is an excellent way to find out about the electricity you use, where you use it most and where you can save both energy and money. You can do an energy efficiency audit yourself by simply walking around your house, inspecting each area for problems and writing down all the things you want to improve. In fact, if you keep a checklist, you can prioritize the projects you want to tackle first and continue to build on each energy-saving improvement.

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1. Locate Your Air Leaks

Depending on the age of your home, you could save from 5% to 30% per year on your overall energy bill by simply reducing the drafts in your home. Air leaks can be found in many places, including windows, doors, chimneys, attic hatches and even electrical outlets. Find out more at Air Leakage Tips.

2. Discover Your Insulation Needs

Check to see if the insulation in your ceiling, attic and walls is up to the recommended minimum. Do you have any gaps in the attic? Are your walls insulated properly and up to the recommended R-value? You might want to consider having a professional help you with this. Because only a thermographic inspection can tell you if your entire walls are insulated, whether they've been insulated properly and whether the insulation has settled in some areas. Find out more at Insulation Tips.

3. Inspect Your HVAC System

The heating, ventilation and air conditioning unit (HVAC system) is usually the biggest energy consumer in a home. So it's highly recommended that you call a professional once a year to inspect it. You should also consider replacing it with a newer, more energy-efficient model, if it's over 10 years old.

4. Analyze Your Lighting Design

As you walk around your house, check to make sure that you've got the right bulb for the right situation. For example, in a non-reading area, perhaps a 60-watt bulb would be more appropriate than a 100-watt bulb. You should also take advantage of daylighting as much as possible. And set up controls that automatically turn the lights off when you're not in the room. Find out more at Lighting and CFL Tips.

5. Find a Professional Energy Auditor

For the most complete and accurate residential home energy audit, you should consider hiring a professional energy auditing service. Besides having the knowledge, skills and experience to conduct a detailed audit, these professionals also have specialized tools, such as infrared scanners for thermographic inspections and blower doors for air leakage tests. The energy audit includes a full review of your utility bills, so make sure you contact the Better Business Bureau before hiring any service.

6. Install a Whole House Energy Monitor

If you want to measure the impact of your energy-saving improvements, you can set up an easy-to-install whole house energy monitor. The sensor attaches to your electricity meter to give you real-time usage numbers. Best of all, you can see the difference in both kilowatt hours and dollars and cents.