While the word “audit” is a bit scary, home energy audits can pinpoint areas in your home where energy is being wasted. A home energy auditor assesses the inside and the outside of the home to identify efficiency gaps, so they can be resolved and save a person big bucks on the electric bill. Especially in the fall, when winterization should occur, a home energy audit can ensure your house is buckled down for winter. Fall and winter are also good times for an energy audit because it is easier to identify cold air entering a home than warm.
Where do I find an Energy Auditor?
Your local electric company should be able to direct you to an energy auditor. Energy Star also offers a link to find auditors here.
What does an Energy Auditor do?
They look for leaks! That is actually fairly accurate, but they do much more than that. They inspect the inside and outside of the house looking for places of inefficiency, and they recommend improvements. They may depressurize the home with a fan to identify air leaks by temperature changes with an infrared sensor. This is possibly the most useful service they provide, and it can identify leaks in areas that you may not be able to see with the naked eye.
Common Energy Failures
- Lighting and Appliances: Upgrading appliances to Energy Star appliances saves a lot of money. So does investing in LED light bulbs, which not only saves energy but improves safety in the home. LEDs are not much more expensive than older, incandescent bulbs, and they last many times longer. It is worth the money. If you still have incandescent bulbs in the home, it’s like throwing money away.
- Exterior Integrity: A home energy auditor will likely start his or her inspection on the outside of the home, looking for loss of integrity on the walls or roof of the house. This involves inspecting flashing, shingles, doors, and windows to make sure everything is sealed. They will also make recommendations for winterization, such as double-paned windows or siding repairs.
- Attic: The attic can be responsible for major heat loss if it is not insulated properly. Not only is attic insulation important, but so are the holes where electrical wires enter the internal walls of the house. They should be sealed in order to maintain the insulating effect. If the attic is open, exterior insulation will be inspected.
- Furnace and Water Heater: Old furnaces are inefficient, and so are old water heaters. While people drag their feet on purchasing these larger, more-expensive items, the old appliances may cost more in the long-run than the replacement. The auditor will make sure your appliances aren’t costing you more than you would spend on a new one. They’ll also check for easier energy solutions, such as changing air filters or getting a water heater blanket.
- Ductwork: If a furnace is the heart of a home, then the ductwork is the veins and arteries. They need to be intact and sealed, or they won’t work properly. There is a lot of room for breaches in ductwork along seams and registers, and an auditor will be able to identify weaknesses in ductwork with a quick inspection. They can also recommend settings for the highest amount of efficiency and comfort.
The Comfort of an Audit
Speaking of comfort, a home energy audit should greatly reduce the comfort you have with your energy consumption. It will also increase the physical comfort of your home by eliminating aberrations in heating or air conditioning and ensuring that everything remains consistent throughout the home.
Home Energy Report
When all is said and done, the home energy auditor will present the homeowner with a home energy report, which will identify any energy weaknesses in the home and offer recommendations. This allows the homeowner to prioritize repairs and upgrades, so he or she can save money. The whole process typically cost anywhere from $200 to $600 depending on the complexity and the size of the home, and it is well worth the expense, as it saves homeowners much more than that.
Some energy saving measures are obvious, such as double-paned windows or solid walls, but there are many things a homeowner would not think of when trying to reduce energy consumption and become more efficient. Especially in older homes, much of the wasted energy may be from within walls that homeowners do not consider when trying to make their home energy efficient. That is why a home energy audit is so valuable. Not only does it identify where energy is being lost, but it also offers recommendations from an expert who knows how to save money. Energy loss costs homeowners a lot of money every year, and home energy audits reduce those costs along with making the home more comfortable.