Professional home energy audits can help homeowners identify the ways their homes use energy, and can help provide strategies for making homes more comfortable and more energy efficient.
The Value of a Home Energy Audit
Home energy audits can pinpoint all sorts of opportunities to increase your comfort and save money on your monthly energy bills:
- identify energy loss due to air leakage around windows, doors, and elsewhere
- evaluate the efficiency of your lighting
- check your heating and cooling systems for inefficiencies
- identify areas where moisture condensation is a problem
- evaluate your home’s insulation
These are just a few of the ways a home energy audit can help you save energy and save money. Professional home energy auditors will also use advanced equipment, including things like thermographic scanners and blower doors, to give you a precise idea of where you can make energy efficient home improvements.
Selecting a Home Energy Auditor
There are a lot of home energy auditors out there. State or local government energy and weatherization offices can be a good source for recommended auditors, or your electric or gas utility might offer an energy audit service. And, of course, searching the telephone book under “Energy” and the Web under “Energy Audit” are also good ways to find a home energy auditor.
Before deciding on a home energy auditor, consider getting some work references and contact the Better Business Bureau to see if the company’s gotten any complaints. Also, make sure the auditor provides thermographic inspections and calibrated blower door tests, just in case you want to take advantage of those options.
Before the Home Energy Audit
After you make an appointment for a home energy auditor to come out to evaluate your home, but before the auditor arrives, you should make a list and answer the following questions in order to help the auditor better evaluate your home’s energy efficiency:
- What’s your average thermostat setting for the summer?
- What’s your average thermostat setting for the winter?
- Is anyone home — people or pets — while you’re at work?
- When do you leave for work, and when do you get home?
- How many people live in the home?
- Do you use all your home’s rooms?
Also, make sure to get a copy or a summary of your home’s annual energy bills from your utility. Auditors can use this information to more accurately set a baseline for their evaluations.
During the Home Energy Audit
Auditors will usually examine the outside of your home first, and determine its size and all of its structural features, such as wall area and the number and size of windows and doors, before moving inside for a more detailed examination.
Make sure to walk around with the auditor and don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions. Once inside, the auditor might ask you some questions about your behavior and energy use — this is where your list and annual energy bills come in handy.
Auditors will usually offer a basic assessment, or visual inspection, at a special price. It’s common for auditors to offer greater levels of audits using special instruments at greater cost. Auditors should discuss these levels, including the technology they use and what the technology tests for, when you make your appointment.
If you’re setting your appointment online, make sure to familiarize yourself with the technology and services for the level of audit that you’re purchasing before you buy it.
- Energy Savers website, “Professional Home Energy Assessments.”
- ENERGY STAR website, “Home Energy Audits.”