Every homeowner should routinely perform an energy audit of his or her home. With apps like HomeSelfe, a home energy audit can be done in as little as five minutes. But if you want to go the extra mile, hire a professional. Home energy auditors have special training and equipment to measure a home’s energy performance.
Why should I hire a home energy auditor?
Maybe you’ve already completed some energy-efficient improvements, but you want to get an expert’s opinion to find out what else you can do. Or you may want to know how your home ranks against the average in energy efficiency. A home energy auditor can help with both of these.
How do I hire a home energy auditor?
First, contact your utility to find out if they provide a complimentary or discounted energy audit.
You may find that some companies offer free audits of your home. Before you accept an offer, be aware that they will probably try to sell you their own improvements once the report is completed.
Energy Star provides a thorough list of companies that offer auditing services all over the nation. Select your state, then click “Find Raters Serving [Your State].” From there, look for companies that are certified in RESNET (Residential Energy Services Network) or BPI (The Building Performance Institute.)
What will the auditor do in my home?
With a variety of tools and techniques, the auditor will go through a checklist and will evaluate the following areas of your home:
- HVAC (Heating, Ventilating, Air Conditioning) systems
- Window/door seals and quality (the auditor will do a blower door test using a specialized fan and infrared imaging to determine where leaks are occurring)
- Attic and wall insulation
- Electrical appliances (washer, dryer, stove, etc.)
- Combustion appliances (water heater or other fuel-powered appliances)
- Levels of moisture trapped in window panes or water vapor in bathrooms
The inspection may take a few hours, depending on the size of your home.
How should I prepare for an energy audit?
If you are just getting started in planning for energy improvements, a DIY home energy audit may be the first step to help you prepare for a sit down with an expert. Gather copies of your utility bills for the last year for the auditor to examine. This will help him or her to determine how much energy the home tends to use during different times of the year.
Be prepared to answer the following questions as suggested by the U.S. Department of Energy:
- Is anyone home during working hours?
- What is the average thermostat setting during the summer and the winter?
- How many people live in the home?
- Is every room in use?
Be ready to walk alongside the auditor as he or she examines the home so that you can ask questions during the inspection.
Is it worth it to hire a professional energy auditor?
It depends on your situation. There are many things you can do to make your home and lifestyle energy efficient without hiring someone to tell you how, and paying attention to these items could save you a ton of money on utility bills.
For about $300-$500, a professional assessment can help you locate sources of energy loss you wouldn’t have been aware of otherwise, potentially saving you even more on your utility bills.
There’s one more reason you might want to spring for the expense: If you’re thinking about selling your home, potential buyers will want to know how energy efficient it is. Energy efficiency is measured by a HERS Index score, where homes with low scores are the most energy efficient.
Consider how much you are willing to invest to improve your home’s energy efficiency. Remember, you’re paying an energy auditor to find areas that need your attention, which means you’ll probably be paying even more to fix them.
But as you decide whether or not to hire a professional auditor, remember that energy improvements may save you thousands of dollars in the long run. So depending on your particular home and your family’s energy usage habits, you might actually be wasting money by not completing a professional home energy audit!