Home Energy Audit: Do You Need One?
The United States Energy Information Administration estimates that the United States home consumes nearly 10,400 kilowatt hours (kWh) on average each year. Depending on where you live in the country and how exactly you receive your energy, an annual amount of energy can add up pretty quickly.
One thing that most homeowners don’t realize is that their homes may actually be working against them instead of for them and is actually wasting energy. Features like windows, doors, and cracks in the walls may be artificially inflating the energy usage.
Thankfully, there is hope! By having a home energy audit performed on y our home, energy-saving opportunities can be identified that can reduce your yearly energy costs. However, there are two questions that need to be answered. One: what exactly is a home energy audit? Two: how do you determine whether a home energy audit is warranted?
What Is A Home Energy Audit?
A home energy audit determines the amount of energy that your home utilizes and where your home is wasting or losing energy. Home energy audits, also referred to as home energy assessments or evaluations, reveal where improvements can be made in terms of energy efficiency.
A professional inspection will take into account everything from how many household members there are to lighting, air flow, and common furnace issues.
Do You Need a Home Energy Assessment?
While it is completely possible for your home to already be conserving energy so efficiently that an audit is not necessary, most homes are consuming more energy than they actually need. An energy evaluation does a lot more than help save you energy, as it also increases your personal comfort levels and your property value.
Benefits of Home Energy Audits
Aside from home-related savings, how can a home energy audit benefit you? Below is a look at why you should have a home energy assessment performed.
Understand Your Household Energy Usage
An energy evaluation allows you to understand how and where energy is used. By understanding how and where your home is using (or wasting) energy, you are empowered to make productive alterations to your lifestyle or home.
Identify Probable Energy-Saving Opportunities
As soon as an auditor is able to identify the areas of improvement, you may take steps to resolve the problems. An assessment can reveal that your air ducts need to be cleaned or it may recommend that worn weather-stripping needs to be replaced. These problems being fixed can create a more energy-efficient home.
Improve Overall Healthy and Safety
During an evaluation, homeowners tend to identify air leaks around doors, unwanted sources of moisture, and a lack of adequate insulation. When moisture problems are located, measures can be taken to maintain a recommended home humidity level, which can help lead to positive healthy results, particularly for household members who suffer from asthma or allergies.
Increase Home Comfort
When the home’s energy efficiency is increase, you have more control over the home environment. Your HVAC unit can heat and cool the home with more efficiency, which will improve your personal comfort, extend its life span, and lower your monthly energy bill.
Increase the Property’s Resale Value
When it comes to improving the value of your property, one of the best home improvements that you are able to make is increasing the energy efficiency of your home. Potential buyers prefer to look at energy-efficient.
How Much Do Energy Audits Cost?
According to the United States Department of Energy, an energy auditor generally charges between $200 and $500 for the home energy evaluation. On an average, this assessment can take as long as four hours to be completed. Keep in mind that the costs of hiring a professional tend to be offset by your energy savings. As soon as the issues that are identified in the home have been properly corrected, you may be able to save as much as 30 percent on your monthly energy bill.
Various Kinds of Home Energy Audits
Energy audits tend to come in two primary forms: DIY and professional. Out of these two forms, a professional assessment is more accurate and comprehensive than the do-it-yourself method. However, at the same time, you can follow a home energy audit checklist and identify some of the more common culprits of energy loss in the home.
Professional Home Energy Audits
A professional assessment will examine the energy usage of your home in extensive detail. Though you may seem shocked at the price at first, the extensive knowledge of the auditor and the technology that is used will ensure that the professional assessment is worth it in the long run.
What Is Included in a Professional Energy Audit?
Standard energy audits include a full analysis of your behavior, such as the number of rooms that are used, how many individuals live inside the home, and whether any individuals are home during working hours. To begin, the auditor will carefully examine your previous energy bills, research your personal energy usage, and perform an examination of your home room-by-room looking for energy drains and air leaks and checking for attic door and wall insulation.
Professional home audits tend to include what is known as a blower door test. Utilizing a special that depressurizes your home, this test will locate potential air leaks. The auditor may conduct a thermographic scan, which measures home surface temperatures utilizing infrared cameras. With this scan, it can be determined if there is sufficient insulation within the home.
How to Locate a Home Energy Auditor
Home energy audits can only be as good as the professional auditor that you choose to hire. Luckily, your local or state government energy office should be able to assist you in locating organizations or companies that perform professional energy evaluations.
For optimal results, choose an energy auditor that is certified. A directory of certified auditors can be found with the Residential Energy Services Network.
Before you sign a contract with any auditor, here are some steps that you should take.
- Requests References and Look for Online Reviews – Certified and credible home energy auditors should have no problem providing you with references when you request them. When you receive them, make sure to call them and ask for their opinions. Don’t forget to look up reviews online. You may find it beneficial to ask auditors about their processes, the services that they offer, and why.
- Check the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website for complaints. Look to see if there have been any prior clients who have reported the auditor to the BBB. If so, were the concerns of that customer addressed and properly resolved?
- Ensure the Auditor Utilizes a Calibrated Blower Door – This type of door provides far more accurate results than older models, so you want to ensure that the auditor you choose to work with it utilizing current technology.
- Ensure the Auditor Utilizes Thermographic Inspections – All auditors do not perform thermographic inspections, though it is a beneficial test. These scans have the potential to detect areas of warmth and coolness in a home and assist in identifying if more insulation is necessary in the home.
DIY Home Energy Audits
Professional audits are always recommended, but there are uses to DIY energy audits as well. A do-it-yourself home energy audit is an energy assessment that you perform yourself. Though it likely will not be as comprehensive or complete as a professional evaluation, the inspection can help improve the energy efficiency of your home. Even small changes can result insignificant effects on your consumption of energy.
DIY Home Energy Checklist
If you decide to perform a DIY home energy audit, you will ultimately be limited to pretty basic exams of your windows, insulation, ventilation, and HVAC systems. Here is a checklist that you can follow.
Identify Air Leaks
Drafts may indicate that there are air leaks along the edge of flooring, along baseboards, and electrical outlets. Look for holes and cracks in the home’s foundation, siding, and mortar, and inspect doors and windows for leaks. Seal any leaks with the suitable materials and determine if you should switch to energy-efficient windows.
Check the kitchen, laundry, and bathroom exhausts to make certain that they are in adequate working order. Inspect the attic ventilation to make sure that there is adequate cross ventilation, and inspect for evidence of humidity, moisture, and rot.
The older your home is, the less likely it is that your home has the adequate insulation. Check the attic first. If you are able to see the joists, then you do not have a sufficient amount of insulation. Consider placing insulation around the hatch or door to the attic to keep warm air in the main areas of your home.
You cannot generally see the kind of insulation that is within your walls. However, you can unscrew an outlet and take a look inside. As a general rule, you should be able to see the insulation and may even be able to see its rating. There is a detailed guide on Energy.gov that details how to inspect and evaluate your home insulation.
Look at Your Heating and Cooling
HVAC systems are very intricate systems, so it is best if they are maintained by professionals. However, you can assist in maintaining their efficiency by replacing their filters when needed, plugging air duct leaks with duct tape, and insulating ductwork and water pipes that travel through unheated spaces.
Check into how old your HVAC system is. If it is older than 15 years old, then it is time to consider a more energy-efficient model.
Investigate the Lighting
The U.S. Department of Energy reports that lighting accounts for 10 percent of a residential home’s electric bill. By replacing incandescent lighting with energy-efficient CFL or LED lights, you can reduce your electric bill and the amount of heat that your light bulbs emit.
Once Your Home Energy Audit Is Conducted, What Occurs Next?
A home energy assessment will reveal gaps in the energy efficiency in your home. In order to make sure that you get the most out of your evaluation, the issues that are identified need to be remedied. So, make sure that you address the issues that are found during the home energy audit and you will begin to see positive results on your monthly energy bills.
For more information, reach out to us at Southern Valley Services.