Watt, Why & How e-Newsletter

Home Energy Audit: Your First Step to Lower Utility Bills

Considering an energy efficiency upgrade, but not sure if it's worth it? A home energy audit is a great first step in saving energy and money. A professional auditor will perform a detailed evaluation of your home, give you a thorough picture of where you are wasting energy, and help you find the right cost-saving opportunities.

Source: www.energy.gov
Infrared camera

Auditor's tools

While your auditor will probably carry tools that you might expect, such as a tape measure, adjustable wrench, and a flashlight; other gadgets commonly used in energy audits may surprise you:

  • Infrared camera to help find air leaks and determine insulation levels
  • Smoke generator that produces a non-toxic fog to pinpoint air and duct leaks
  • Watt meter to determine the power usage of electrical devices in your home
  • Digital camera to help see into hard-to-reach areas and provide visual documentation of your home

Steps in an energy audit

Although individual auditors have their own way of doing things, a typical audit includes the following:

  • Examination of past utility bills to determine energy consumption
  • Interview with homeowner about home operations and specific problems or concerns
  • Visual inspection of the home—inside and out
  • Evaluation of the age and condition of heating and cooling systems, appliances, and lighting
  • Blower door test to check for air leaks
  • Explanation of audit findings and a written report with recommended improvements

 

Source: www.energy.gov
Blower door test
What's a blower door test?

A blower door test locates air leaks by depressurizing a house. A blower door consists of a fan, pressure gauges, and a frame and panel that mount in an open doorway. The fan pulls air out of the house, lowering the air pressure inside. The outside air, which is at a higher pressure, then flows through any cracks or gaps. The gauges measure the overall air tightness of your home. The auditor may also use a smoke pencil to locate air leaks. 

Finding an energy auditor

There are a number of resources available to help you find energy auditing services:

  • Your state energy office may be able to provide a list of companies or organizations that perform energy assessments.
  • The Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) certifies home energy auditors/raters. Search for aqualified professional in your area.
  • The Building Performance Institute (BPI) certifies Home Energy Professionals. Find a BPI certified professional near you.
Before contracting with an auditor, ask for a list of references and contact them all to find out if they were satisfied with the work performed. Contact your local Better Business Bureau, as well, to find out if any complaints have been filed against the company. 

Once the audit is complete, you will receive a written report. Now, it's time to take action. You can save up to 30 percent on your energy bills by implementing the recommendations in your audit, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. State or local financial incentives may be available to help cover the cost of specific upgrades. Contact an energy auditor today!  

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