Do I Need a Home Energy Audit?
Regardless of how careful you are regarding your energy use, it can be challenging to keep tabs on every area where your home is losing electricity. Home energy assessments can help by showing you how to improve your home's energy usage.
WHAT IS A HOME ENERGY AUDIT?
A home energy audit assesses your home’s energy use, where electricity is wasted, and how you can improve your home's energy efficiency. Most energy audits assess your "home envelope," meaning how well your home seals in air. Certified auditors look at your past year's energy bills and then look through your home for any areas of concern or ways to improve your energy usage.
Some energy auditors give your home a rating known as your "home energy score." A home energy score gives your house a 1-10 rating letting you know where your home stands based on its structure and heating, cooling, and hot water systems.
By now, you're asking yourself, "Is a home energy audit worth it?" Read on to see all of the benefits an audit provides and the money you can save on your energy bill each month!
THE BENEFITS OF A HOME ENERGY ASSESSMENT
Energy assessments are critical to lowering energy use and saving money on your electric bill. Certified auditors can identify areas of your home that use excessive energy and recommend ways to fix the issues. Their training and expertise can help you know exactly where your home stands and how to improve it.
The benefits of energy audits for homes often outweigh the cost of both the assessment and repairs. If you are dealing with high electric bills month after month, an energy audit will allow you to see where your money is going.
The auditor will advise on how to make your house as energy-efficient as possible. For smaller repairs, like caulking a leaky window or wall-floor connection, you may be able to do the job yourself. For more significant repairs, such as installing more insulation or fixing an eave, they will recommend you to contact a professional who can help solve the problem.
HOME ENERGY AUDIT CHECKLIST
Home energy audits are comprehensive. As a result, auditors cover a lot of ground when assessing the efficiency of your home. Below are some of the most common items on any auditor’s checklist.
1. THE HOME ENVELOPE: YOUR HOME'S AIR SEAL AND AIR CONDITIONING SYSTEMS
Your "home envelope" is the collection of materials that separate the outside weather conditions from the air inside your house. It's the seal that keeps conditioned air within your home. There are several techniques an auditor can use to test your home for air leaks.
For a basic assessment, an auditor will go around the exterior of your home to check for any significant air leakage issues with the structure of the house. Once they are inside, they can look at any areas you've marked as potential draft zones. After a sweep of the house's interior, they will check your insulation in areas like your attic and basement to look for any air leaks.
Insulation in the attic can reveal how much air is leaking into your home. Dirty or improperly installed insulation is a sign that outside air is getting into the home envelope.
BLOWER DOOR TEST WITH A THERMOGRAPHIC INSPECTION
Energy auditors may use a blower door test to determine where air leaks are in your home. The auditor places a flexible panel in the door frame of your front door. The panel fits to create a seal. Then, the attached fan slowly depressurizes your home and allows the auditor to see where the air is entering your house.
Auditors determine where the air is leaking by performing a thermographic inspection. A thermographic inspection measures surface temperatures using infrared video and still cameras. Depending on the season, auditors can look for unusually hot or cold areas, which show up through thermal imaging.
2. YOUR WATER HEATER AND FURNACE
An energy audit can reveal if your water heater and furnace are running efficiently and cost-effectively. The auditor will determine if it needs any maintenance or replacement. Sometimes the fixes are simple, like replacing a filter. If the water heater or furnace is older, it may need to be updated to a more energy-efficient model.
3. ENERGY-EFFICIENT LIGHTING AND IDENTIFYING PHANTOM LOADS
Depending on the home energy audit's size and scope, some auditors may want to look at what type of lighting you are using. If they recognize an opportunity, they may recommend replacing fluorescent or incandescent lights with light-emitting diodes (LED) lightbulbs. These use less energy over time, which saves you money.
An auditor should be able to look at your energy bill and appliances around your home to determine what items may be sucking up large amounts of phantom energy. Reducing phantom loads, devices that use energy even when turned off, can help save on your energy bill.
4. INSTALLING A SMART THERMOSTAT
An energy auditor can recommend a smart thermostat for your home. Most smart thermostats have an eco-friendly mode, which keeps the room temperature within a recommended energy-efficient range. Smart thermostats can change your home’s temperature while you are away from your home and provide energy usage data.
HOW MUCH DO HOME ENERGY AUDITS COST?
The cost of a home energy audit depends on how extensive you want it to be. Some energy audits can cost around $100, while others can cost several hundred. If you have an older home, consider getting a more extensive audit as it may have excess problems with energy consumption.
Before you get an audit, check with your local electric cooperative and ask if they offer audits or incentives on recommended repairs. In addition, check online to see if your state offers tax deductions for home energy audits. Some states provide a partial or total deduction for the audit cost up to a certain amount.
To learn more ways you can save on your electric bill, check out our summer savings tips. For other energy-saving advice, view our top tips page. Visit our blog to get the latest information on how you can take control of your energy consumption and save.