In this video, This Old House host Kevin O'Connor and a specialist perform a whole-house energy audit.
1. Check the energy rating on each appliance and light fixture. Look for Energy Star label or other low-usage ratings. Replace older products that are wasting electricity.
2. Inspect the water heater, and make note of any leaks, rust spots or lack of insulation. Also, check the heater's age and energy efficiency.
3. Run a combustion safety test of the steam boiler with a combustion analyzer.
4. Use the analyzer to measure the temperature and ratio of gases inside the flue pipe.
5. Next, drill a small-diameter hole in the flue pipe, then use the analyzer to measure the air pressure and to ensure that the boiler is drafting (exhausting) properly.
6. Hold a smoke stick beside the flue to confirm that gases aren't leaking back into the basement.
7. Install an electric blower door in the front doorway to test for air leaks throughout the house.
8. Close all windows and doors in the house. And shut fireplace dampers, then turn on the blower fan.
9. Use a smoke stick to check for leaks around doors, windows, fireplaces, vents and chimneys.
10. Take a handheld infrared sensor and check for temperature differences on the interior walls and ceilings. A cool spot is evidence of poor insulation or an air leak.
11. Use the infrared sensor to check for temperature changes around pull-down attic stairs.
12. Climb into the attic and inspect insulation in the attic floor; it should be at least 12 inches deep. Add more insulation, if necessary.
13. If the existing insulation is damaged or badly compressed, remove it and install new insulation.
14. Seal air-leaking gaps around the chimney with fire-rated flashing and caulking, then insulate around the chimney.
15. Seal all penetrations and gaps in the attic floor with expanding polyurethane caulk.
16. Make or buy a rigid-foam attic stair cover and install it over the opening for the pull-down staircase.