The Ultimate Home Energy Audit Guide For 2023
Are you looking for ways to make your home more energy efficient and save on your energy bills? If so, you may be considering a home energy audit. But what is a home energy audit, and what will it entail? This blog post will discuss all essentials of home energy audits!
We will cover the basics, such as what they are and why they are important, as well as more specific information like the process of an audit and what to look for when choosing a professional auditor. After reading this article, you will have received all the essential information you need to make an informed decision about whether or not a home energy audit is proper for you!
What Is A Home Energy Assessment?
To make it short, a home energy audit assesses your home’s energy performance. An auditor will examine your home’s insulation, windows, and heating and cooling systems things as electronic appliances.
They will also look at your home’s energy usage history to identify areas where you could save energy. After the audit is completed, the auditor will provide you with a report detailing their findings and recommending measures you can take to improve your home’s energy efficiency.
Did You Know?
You can save 5-30% on your average monthly electricity bill by implementing the recommendations detected in a home energy assessment.
These measures could include adding insulation, sealing air leaks, or upgrading to more efficient heating and cooling systems. By implementing the recommended actions, you can save money on energy bills and make your home more comfortable year-round.
A complete home energy assessment shouldn’t only be about home’s energy performance and how to improve comfort and safety in your home, by better insulation, for example. Therefore, I recommend an audit as the first step before taking additional steps like installing solar panels or adding other energy-saving installations to your house.
Why Should You Do A Home Energy Audit?
In simple words, such an audit is a great way to save money and improve your home’s energy efficiency. Here are five reasons why I can recommend a home energy audit:
- You’ll save money on your energy bills.
- You’ll be more comfortable in your home.
- Your home will be more energy efficient.
- It is a good feeling when knowing that your home is running efficiently and safely.
- You’ll be doing your part to help the environment.
If you think about assessing your home but are still unsure if the timing is good, I recommend looking at it as if you have nothing to lose. Even If you decide not to take action at the moment, you will at least have a better understanding and knowledge of your home’s energy efficiency.
In addition, many governments heavily support the installation of renewable energy sources in light of the current climate crisis. In the United States, for example, you can claim a 26% solar tax credit if you install solar panels on your roof. You can get more information if you are obligated here.
Potential Cons And How You Can Avoid Them
While a home energy audit can be a helpful tool for reducing your energy consumption, there are some potential drawbacks to consider.
First, home energy audits can be time-consuming. The auditing process itself can take several hours, and you may need to schedule additional time for making changes based on the audit results.
Second, home improvement can be expensive. While the cost of the audit will vary depending on the size and complexity of your home, it is critical to factor in the price of any recommended improvements.
Finally, home energy audits can be disruptive. The auditing process can disrupt your regular routine, and making changes based on the audit results may require significant changes to your daily habits.
However, there are some ways to minimize these potential drawbacks. For example, you can work with the auditor to develop a plan that minimizes disruption to your daily routines or even schedule the time when you are not home. Just remember, you should coordinate this with the auditor beforehand and inform him how he can enter the house if you decide to go for that option. Nonetheless, I would personally recommend being present during the assessment and asking questions if possible.
Additionally, many utility companies offer discounts or rebates for home energy audits, which can offset costs.
Considering these potential drawbacks in advance can ensure you get the most out of your home energy audit.
What You Can Expect On The Day Of Your Audit
The process of a home energy audit is split into different steps. Below, I have listed the most important milestones during the process.
Home Owner Interview
The first step in your home energy audit is an interview, eighter face-to-face, via a questionnaire, or sometimes on the day of the audit itself. The auditor will talk to you to better understand your interests and needs for the assessment.
Potential questions discussed could include the average setting of the thermostat in summer and winter, how many people live in the house, and if any room is unoccupied. Of course, your yearly electricity bill is also a reasonable basis.
How To Prepare
- Prepare with a list of questions you have as well as potential comfort issues you already noted
- Have your electricity bill ready (you can request it from your service provider or access it only on some occasions)
- Block off around 30 minutes to 1 hour of your time
On the day of the inspection, the assessor will start with a visual inspection of all interior and exterior visual inspection. He may also use equipment, such as a surface thermometer, to detect sources of energy loss. Generally, these audits are extensive to collect sufficient data for the recommendations.
How To Prepare
- Various factors play a role here, but depending on the size and complexity of your home, the evaluation may take several hours, so block of enough time.
- Prepare to give access to all areas of your home, including the basement, built-in cabinets, etc.
Blower Door Test
A blower test is a crucial part of a home energy audit. Its purpose is to assess the airtightness of a house – in other words, how well it is insulated against outside air.
The test itself is relatively simple. First, a blower door, a large frame fitted with a powerful fan, is placed in an exterior door opening. Once the fan is turned on, it pressurizes the inside of the house, causing air to leak through cracks or openings.
The auditor then uses a smoke pencil or other device to detect where the air is leaking from and measure the openings’ size. The results of the blower test can help determine where a house needs to be better sealed to improve its energy efficiency.
How To Prepare
- Should you heat your home with wood, ensure all fires are completely out and remove ashes from any open fireplaces before the auditor arrives. This precaution is to prevent the auditor from accidentally breathing in harmful substances.
- The auditor must close all exterior doors and windows, open all interior doors, and close any fireplace dampers, doors, and woodstove air inlets.
A thermographic inspection is an alternative to the blower test. It is a way of testing for insulation leaks in buildings. It can be used to find areas where heat is escaping from the building, and it can also be used to find hidden moisture damage.
Thermographic inspection can be done with a camera that detects infrared radiation. You can’t see this radiation with your naked eye, but it can be seen with the camera. The camera creates the image of the object’s heat signature being inspected. The inspector can identify areas of concern by looking at the thermographic picture.
How To Prepare
- Remove furniture from the exterior walls to increase the accuracy of the test.
- Depending on your location, it may be nessescary to create and maintain an individual indoor/outdoor temperature difference for a specific time. Your auditor will instruct you if this is the case.
Professional Home Energy Assessment VS Do-It-Yourself
Home energy assessments are a helpful way to determine where your home is losing energy and how you can improve its efficiency. Professional home energy assessors have the training and experience to analyze your home’s energy use thoroughly.
They often use specialized equipment to identify areas where your home loses heat or air leakage. In addition, professional home energy assessors can provide you with detailed recommendations on how to improve your home’s energy efficiency.
Do-it-yourself home energy assessments can be a less expensive option. Still, they are often less comprehensive than professional assessments. Without the specialized equipment, it can be challenging to identify all areas where your home is losing energy. In addition, without professional training, you may not know what measures you can take to improve your home’s efficiency.
As a result, professional home energy assessments are generally the better option for homeowners who want to ensure they take all the respective steps to improve their home’s energy efficiency. Still, you may be able to identify obvious improvement potential by conducting an audit. It also depends on your expertise, experience, and skills if you can benefit from such a test.
Frequent Areas Of Improvement After A Home Energy Audit
Windows And Insulation
When it comes to insulation and windows, there are three frequent findings from home energy audits in my experience.
First, many homes have insufficient insulation in the attic, walls, or floors. This can lead to heat loss in the winter and increased cooling costs in the summer.
Second, drafty windows are a common problem. As a result, energy auditors will often recommend upgrading to more energy-efficient windows.
Finally, gaps and cracks around doors and windows can cause drafts and heat loss. Sealing these gaps can be a simple and effective way to improve your home’s energy efficiency. By taking these steps, you can make your home more comfortable and save money on your energy bills.
Here are a few common findings from a home energy audit that can help improve energy efficiency in the kitchen:
• Leaky faucets – A slow drip from a single faucet can waste up to 3,000 gallons of water per year. Fixing leaky faucets is an easy way to reduce water usage and lower energy bills.
• Incandescent light bulbs – Incandescent light bulbs are inefficient, converting only about 5% of their energy into light. Replacing incandescent bulbs with more efficient options, such as LED bulbs, can help reduce your energy usage and lower bills.
• Refrigerator – Your refrigerator is one of the most energy-intensive appliances in your home. If your fridge is over ten years old, it may be time to upgrade to a more efficient model. Newer refrigerators use much less energy than older models, so upgrading can help you save money on your electric bill.
Heating is also an often underestimated angle of your home’s energy consumption. You can drastically reduce your energy consumption and save money on your utility bills by making a few simple changes in this area. For example, upgrading to a more efficient heating system or sealing drafty windows and doors can significantly affect how much heat your home loses each day.
Many people don’t realize how much energy their air conditioner uses. However, studies have shown, according to the Department of Energy, air conditioners account for about 6% of the entire electricity used in the United States. This means that improving your air conditioner’s efficiency can significantly impact your energy bill. A home energy audit is an excellent possibility to identify ways to improve the efficiency of your air conditioning system. Some common findings from a home energy audit include:
-Improperly sized air conditioner: Many people have an air conditioner that is too large for their home. This results in wasted energy and higher electricity bills for you.
-Poorly insulated ductwork: Ductwork that is not adequately insulated can leak a lot of cool air, resulting in wasted energy and higher electricity bills.
How To Find The Best Home Energy Audit Company?
Suppose you want to get the most out of your home energy audit. In that case, choosing a reputable and experienced company is essential.
Many different companies offer home energy audits, so it’s essential to do your research to find one that is right for you.
Here are a couple of considerations when choosing a home energy audit provider.
Independent Auditor Vs. Company
First, you need to decide if you prefer to go with an energy audit company or an independent auditor. The advantage of an independent auditor is that they are not affiliated with any company, so they can offer impartial advice. But they are harder to find, and the waiting time is usually longer, depending on your location. Your energy utility company may conduct residential energy assessments or recommend a local independent provider.
The advantage of an energy audit company is that they may have special deals or offers from energy companies that could save you money on your energy bills. Additionally, you will have one contact person or company for implementing the recommendation when you go with an energy audit company. Just consider that representatives of an energy audit company may be under more pressure to sell you something.
No matter which option you prefer from above, I always recommend researching the assessor’s reputation. You can also check with the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any complaints against the company. Finally, contact the provider and ask questions about their experience and qualifications. For example, choose a provider that uses a calibrated blower door and offers a U.S. Department of Energy Home Energy Score-based report. If you follow these steps, you can be sure that you’re choosing a reputable home energy audit provider.
The costs of a home energy audit vary depending on the home’s size and the assessment’s complexity. For a small house, a basic audit may cost as little as $100. For a large home or one with multiple levels, an audit can cost $500 or more.
Homeowners should expect to pay more for an audit if they live in an area with a high cost of living or if they have unique features in their home that require more time to assess. However, the cost of an audit is typically offset by the savings homeowners will see on their energy bills after making improvements based on the auditor’s recommendations.
Recommended Home Audit Companies
If you’re looking for advice on finding a reputable company to perform an energy audit on your home, here are five of my personal favorites in the United States:
Energy Star is a government-backed program that helps businesses and consumers save money and protect our world by promoting energy efficiency. Energy Star-certified homes and products are independently verified to be up to 30% more efficient than standard models.
The Building Performance Institute, Inc. (BPI) is the nation’s premier professional certification organization for building performance analysts, auditors, and weatherization professionals. BPI-certified professionals have demonstrated expertise in conducting comprehensive home energy audits and implementing energy efficiency upgrades.
The Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) is a nonprofit organization that promotes energy efficiency in homes and buildings through independently certified raters. RESNET-certified home energy auditors have completed extensive training and are qualified to conduct detailed assessments of homes’ energy use.
Next Steps After The Audit
After receiving your home energy audit report, it’s time to start improving. Begin by prioritizing the recommendations based on cost, estimated energy savings, and health and safety concerns. Some recommended improvements may require professional installation, while the homeowner can complete others.
Suppose you need help paying for energy-saving improvements. Several financing options are available in that case, including government rebates and tax credits, low-interest loans, and utility company rebate programs.
Taking action to make your home more energy efficient is one of the best ways to save money and protect the environment. By taking advantage of a home energy audit, you can be sure that you’re making the most efficient use of energy in your home.
We are at the end of this article. I hope you enjoyed reading it. A home energy audit is a great way to save money on your energy bills and make your home more sustainable. If you’re ready to start, choose a reputable company to perform the audit. And don’t forget, after you receive your report, prioritize the recommendations and take action!