If you are a homeowner or a tenant who pays electrical utilities, you may be inclined to know whether you can cut energy costs by making your building more energy-efficient.
However, your home’s energy efficiency can be affected by things like the weather where you live and how well your home was built.
Completing an audit is the first step to identifying opportunities to reduce your energy consumption, save money, and improve the comfort of your home. By making your home more energy-efficient, you also cut down on your carbon footprint and impact on the world.
What is Assessed?
An energy audit may sound intimidating because of the negative connotation most of us associate with the word “audit.”
However, this audit assesses the needs and efficiency of your home’s electrical use while seeking opportunities for energy savings.
You can use the information you get from this audit to make smart decisions about your home, which will help you save money.
During an energy audit assessment, you can expect the energy specialist to walk through all the rooms of your house to evaluate the physical condition of the building, including door and window seals, insulation, and ventilation.
They will also check the functions of mechanical systems such as appliances, heating, air conditioning, and lighting. They should also perform a blower-door test to depressurize the house and its airflow test.
Your auditor will likely discuss numerous ways in which you can cut down on phantom loads, upgrade appliances, and strategize ways to minimize your heating or cooling needs. You can use the information you get from this audit to make smart decisions about your home, which will help you save money.
The audit report may also include information related to your local climate, thermostat settings, roof overhang, and solar orientation. This information can be used to improve the accuracy of the estimates by looking at how much energy you use over time.
How to Prepare for an Audit
- First, to find an accredited auditor, check to see if your utility company has an in-house specialist who can support your audit. If they don’t, you can check with the Residential Energy Services Network.
- It is a good idea to ask for references and ensure that the auditor uses a calibrated blower door to test the building ventilation.
- Before the audit, come up with a list of questions for them to help you understand your home better. For example, maybe you have noticed that a specific room is always cooler than others, or you are having issues with condensation on the windows.
- If you already have some efficiency upgrade ideas in mind, a specialist can help you prioritize the ones that will have the most significant impact.
- Be sure to provide copies of your monthly energy bills that demonstrate your energy use patterns.
- Some auditors may already have access to these, but it is good to be prepared to make good use of everyone’s time.
- It all comes down to this: the more prepared you are for your audit, the more accurate the recommendations for making your home more energy efficient will be if you follow them.
How Much Does It Cost?
HomeAdvisor reports that energy audits cost between $100 and $1,650, or $409.
Keep in mind that the larger your home is, the higher the cost. Even though you will have to pay an upfront fee to have a professional come and do an energy audit, the money you will save each month will cover the fee and add up over time.
It is also important to keep in mind that with so many community sustainability initiatives, there are often opportunities for government grants and or power company subsidies to help cover the cost of energy audits and retrofits. With their audits, many power companies offer free sealing or supplies, free testing, or other things.
How Much Will You Save?
According to Millionaires, energy audits can reduce your annual energy consumption by 30%. So long as energy prices remain stable, this would translate into a 30% savings on your energy bill. However, keep in mind that this may only be possible if you follow through with the advice that is given to you by the energy specialist.
Making energy-efficient improvements to your home may include updating lighting to LED lightbulbs, replacing old appliances with energy-efficient alternatives, replacing windows, or updating heating and cooling systems.
As you may realize, this could require a hefty initial investment that may take longer to recover. However, your home will be more comfortable as it will be able to moderate temperatures during cold winters or hot summers, leading to a better quality of life.
If you still are not sure whether you want to have a professional audit completed, you can start with a do-it-yourself home energy audit instead.
You may be able to access free, simplified tools from state agencies or local utility providers, or you can complete a fundamental assessment without any specialized tools. Make sure to follow a checklist that has been carefully thought out so that you can inspect your home and look for ways to make it more energy-efficient.
Image credit: [Arthon Meekodong].