By performing a do it yourself home energy audit, you could potentially improve your home energy efficiency and save money. A home heating and energy assessment can result in you finding ways to use less electricity and other energy resources!
Performing your own energy audit will not give as thorough results as a professional home energy audit, but evaluating your manufactured or modular home for energy efficiency can help you make the most of your home investment for years to come.
What is a home energy audit and why should you do one in your manufactured home?
A home energy audit is basically a way to determine key areas in your house where you’re using more energy than you need to. It’s important to perform a home energy audit so you can find energy consuming culprits or other potential problems and then fix them to save money and reduce energy usage.
It’s fairly well-known that older manufactured homes are not as energy efficient or as tightly constructed as homes built today.
Whether you have a newer manufactured home model or an older home, performing a home energy audit can give you the following benefits:
- Show you where unknown drafts are located
- Help you identify where you can easily trim energy use
- Show you where you may need to replace appliances
- Overall help you save money on utility costs
With the results of your energy audit, you can pinpoint areas where you can:
- Improve your home environment with a more stable temperature
- Prevent excess energy use and help the environment
- Keep more money in your wallet with lower energy costs
Home Energy Audit Equipment You’ll Need
Depending on how home energy auditing goes as you work through your do it yourself checklist, you could need any of the following items for your audit:
- A new air filter
- Piping insulation and wrapping
- Expanding foam insulation
- Rolled insulation
- New energy efficient appliances
- A power strip or two
- Duct mastic
- A couple sticks of incense
- New caulk and a caulking gun
- New weather stripping
Your Do It Yourself Home Energy Audit Checklist
1. Evaluate your insulation
If you have a manufactured home that was built after 1976, your home will have insulation levels that meet federal building regulations (HUD Code). However, a couple of factors could affect the insulation levels in your home.
- If your home was built prior to 1976
- If you have removed any insulation in any part of your home
- If you purchased a pre-owned home and the previous owner altered any insulation
Sometimes, homeowners remove insulation from their roofing system. We do not recommend this as it reduces the efficiency of a home and can lead to problems such as potential gutter damage.
So how do you assess the insulation in your home? One good problem indicator you can look for in the winter is if snow melts off patches of your roof. This indicates a gap in insulation that has allowed heat from your home to escape up through your roofing system and melt snow.
Other insulation problems to look for:
- Check your vapor barrier under your home for tearing or holes
- Check how many inches of blown insulation you have in your roofing system
- Check that openings around pipes, ductwork and chimneys are all sealed
- Check to make sure insulation isn’t blocking any vents in your roofing system
- Check the R-value of the insulation in your home (insulation is required by the FTC to be clearly labeled)
As you perform the insulation portion of your home energy audit, note what you need to fix. You may need to repair a tear in your vapor barrier, add insulation around your water heater and hot water pipes or add expanding foam insulation to any gaps in insulation.
Remember that as you perform your energy audit, you’ll probably find a variety of insulation types in your home. Keep in mind that one kind of insulation is not necessarily “the best kind of insulation.” Insulation in a manufactured home built to HUD Code will have the required insulation appropriate for the home thermal zone and the home humid and fringe climate.
If you do want to add insulation to your home, we recommend with starting by adding rolled insulation on top of the blown insulation in your roofing system. Since heat rises, this is a great way to start insulating your home and reduce heat transfer all year round. Be sure not to cover up any vents in your roofing system.
2. Check and Replace Your Air Filters
If you’re on track with your seasonal home maintenance schedule, you should be replacing your air filter every 30-90 days. But if it’s been a while since you changed your air filter, change it as a part of your home energy audit. Replacing your air filter can help keep your HVAC unit cleaner, which will make it more efficient and last longer.
3. Update Your Appliances
If you have older home appliances like washers, dryers, refrigerators or dishwashers, they’re likely less energy efficient than new models. You should investigate how efficient your current household items really are—certain older models of refrigerators from 1990-1992 use an annual average of over 1500 KWH, or more than $100 in additional utility costs each year compared to newer models.1 Since these numbers can vary by appliance model and your local energy costs, check out an energy calculator and estimate potential savings for your refrigerator.
As you hunt for newer, more efficient products, opt for ENERGY STAR® certified appliances that help protect the environment and conserve energy. The ENERGY STAR logo indicates that a model of appliance has met a set, strict criteria for energy efficiency.2
So how do you find out if new appliances will be more energy efficient or not? Whether you’re browsing through ENERGY STAR certified appliances or looking at alternatives, you can take guidance from yellow and black EnergyGuide labels that are based on Department of Energy tests.
These labels display annual energy consumption and operating cost estimates for appliances. This won’t necessarily show you that an appliance is the most efficient option, but it can help you compare consumption costs.2
4. Look for Vampire Electronics in Your Home
You could easily have items throughout your home that are sucking up electricity without you realizing it. This list of top phantom energy hogs is a great source for figuring out if you have products that are using power while the product is off.
Hunt around your home for common culprits that people leave plugged into outlets such as:
- DVD players
- Video game consoles
- Cable boxes
- Coffee makers
- Cell phone chargers
Anything you leave plugged into an outlet could be using energy as the product waits in standby for you to use it again. Using your home energy audit to reduce electricity use from these products can help save you money.
Invest in power strips that let you plug in multiple devices like a laptop, video game console and TV. When you’re not charging them or using them, flip off the entire power strip.
Tip: As you identify vampire electronics around your home, create a routine for yourself. It could be unplugging your cell phone charger each morning when you retrieve your phone, unplugging lamps as you walk through your home when you leave each day, unplug your coffee maker as soon as you’re finished with the pot—use any routine that helps you unplug phantom energy hogs.
5. Check the Age of Your Heating and Cooling System
If your heating and cooling system is older than 15 years old, you should consider replacing it with a newer, energy-efficient unit.3 You can have an HVAC specialist evaluate how efficient your current heating and cooling system is to get a more precise gauge on how well it currently operates.
While you’re completing your home energy audit, don’t forget to check your ductwork for dirt streaks. Why? If there are dirt streaks on your duct work, this means there could be an air leak.
You can also look for dirt streaks on your ceiling around vents or around wall registers. This will also indicate that there are some unsealed openings somewhere in your heating and cooling duct work, possibly where the duct work goes through ceilings or walls.4 The points where ducts pass through drywall in your ceiling or subfloor is called a “boot penetration.”4
You can seal openings on duct work with a gooey material called duct mastic. You’ll just need to make sure the area is clean before applying the mastic. If there are duct penetrations through walls or floors that have gaps or leaks, you can fix the seal with caulk and a caulk gun.
6. Check Your Exterior for Leaks
When inspecting the outside of your manufactured home, look for leaks anywhere where two different building materials meet. This could include where your siding meets the roof, where your door meets your trim, where your windows meet your siding and all corners where materials meet one another.
You should inspect caulking for cracking or gaps and check to make sure all materials meet properly. What happens if you do find gaps? Re-caulk or apply weather stripping to the necessary areas to seal up gaps.
7. Check Your Interior for Leaks
Inside, you should look for leaks and gaps where air could be passing. If air is flowing out of your home, this means heat is coming in and out of your home. Areas where you can check for possible leaks include5:
- Door and window frames
- Fireplace dampers if you have a fireplace
- Door weather stripping
- Old door weather sweeps
- Where cable lines enter your home
- Your dryer vent
Once again, check for caulking that is dry and cracking in these places. Another thing to look for is window rattling when you open and close your window. If you can feel the window rattle as you open or close it, you may have leaks around your windows and may need to re-caulk the windows.
If you do find gaps or leaks inside, caulking and weather stripping will once more be your friend. Be sure to take your current weather stripping to the hardware store to make sure new weather stripping will fit.
You can also perform your own pressurization test. Why? This test will help you locate air leaks in a visual way.
Use these steps from Energy.gov to conduct your own pressurization test.5
- Wait until a cool, windy day.
- Turn off all combustion appliances such as gas furnaces and water heaters.
- Shut all your windows, doors and if you have a fireplace, your flue.
- Turn on any exhaust fans you have in your home like your clothes dryer, your range hood vent and your bathroom fan.
- Light a stick of incense and pass through your home by common leak sites such as windows, baseboards, doors leading outside and your fireplace.
- Watch where the incense smoke seems to be sucked out of the room or moves toward the common leak area. If it is sucked toward the area, then you have a draft that needs to be sealed.
Other Steps to Take
Even though you now know how to do a home energy audit, these helpful tips will not give you as complete of a look at your home energy usage as a professional audit. A professional green home energy audit usually costs money, but they can perform tests that you may not have the equipment to perform.
A professional can perform tests such as6:
- A blower door test that measures airflow and leakage in your home.
- A duct pressure test to see if the correct amount of air is flowing through your ducts.
- A heat pump and A/C commissioning that tests to see if your systems are correctly sized and performing well.
- A thermal imaging test to detect where surfaces are not adequately insulated or sealed.
Whether you own an older mobile home or a new manufactured home, these steps can help you find out ways to save money on energy use in the long run. Easy fixes like unplugging chargers and small appliances help in the short term, and improving major systems like your heating and cooling system will help you keep your home in great shape and save energy over time.
If you want to learn more about creating an energy efficient home, check out more about Clayton’s energy efficient home features.
1. Electric Usage Chart. PDF. Columbus, OH: Efficiency Smart, 2017. Accessed February 09, 2018. https://www.efficiencysmart.org/media/default/docs/programs/meter-loan/efficiency-smart-usage-chart.pdf
2. "Shopping for Appliances." U.S. Department of Energy. Accessed February 07, 2018. https://energy.gov/energysaver/appliances-and-electronics/shopping-appliances.
3. “Do-it-Yourself Home Energy Audits.” U.S. Department of Energy. Accessed February 06, 2018. https://energy.gov/energysaver/home-energy-audits/do-it-yourself-home-energy-audits
4. Richardson, David. "Duct Dynasty: Why Dirt Streaking Occus Around Vents." The News. January 26, 2015. Accessed February 06, 2018. https://www.achrnews.com/articles/128615-why-dirt-streaking-occurs-around-vents.
5. “Detecting Air Leaks.” U.S. Department of Energy. Accessed February 06, 2018. https://energy.gov/energysaver/weatherize/air-sealing-your-home/detecting-air-leaks
6. Do-it-Yourself Home Energy Audit. Seattle, WA: Seattle Department of Planning and Development, 2008. Accessed February 07, 2018. https://www.seattle.gov/Documents/Departments/OSE/GreenHomeGuide-FYIenergyaudit.pdf
ENERGY STAR and the ENERGY STAR mark are registered trademarks owned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Topics Going Green