Energy costs are one of the biggest expenses of maintaining a home. You might find yourself acting like a dictator with the thermostat or timing your showers in order to reduce those energy costs and save a little money, but there is a much easier way. Get an energy audit, and you'll get all sorts of helpful tips that can help you save big bucks on those monthly bills.
Energy audits are also known as energy assessments. These assessments are conducted by professionals who will go through your home room-by-room to examine how you're using energy and look for ways that you can reduce your energy usage and suggest more energy-efficient upgrades. The test is very comprehensive, and various pieces of professional equipment are used in order to find problem areas of your home that could be greatly increasing your costs.
Finding an Auditor
Call your local government energy department to ask for recommendations on professional energy auditors. Chances are, they can give you a list of names and companies to call to set up an appointment. If you don't have an energy department or have trouble getting through to them, call your local utility company. They may conduct these types of tests, or might be able to refer you to someone who does. You can also search the federal Department of Energy's website to search for auditors in your area.
If you can find multiple auditors, call them all and ask for an estimate to ensure that you get the best possible price. Don't be afraid to ask questions about tests they conduct and steps they take during standard home energy audits.
Your Pre-Test Checklist
Before you get an energy audit, take a few minutes to do some pre-testing tasks. Go through your own home and make a list of any problems that you notice, or problems you've noticed in the past. Condensation is a strong indicator of energy issues. If you notice any areas of your home that feel drafty, make a note of this as well. When the auditor comes to your home, tell them about these issues so they can take special care to assess these problem areas.
The auditor will ask several questions, so have your answers ready. They'll ask you about residents who are inside the home during working hours. They will also want to know the average temperature setting for your thermostat during the summer and winter. Tell the energy auditor how many people live in your home, and which rooms get used the most and the least often.
During the Audit
There's no reason you can't go through your home with the energy auditor while they conduct their examination. Walk with them while they evaluate your home, and feel free to ask any questions you may have. That's what they're there for, so don't hesitate to bring up any of your concerns or get any of your questions answered while they're available.
Some auditors perform visual inspections only as a standard procedure. You may need to request that they use specialized equipment to more successfully locate specific areas of energy loss. When you're searching for an auditor, ask about the testing procedures and the equipment they use. There may be additional costs associated with the testing you want, but this expense will pay off if you can isolate specific areas of energy loss that are ultimately costing you money.
- Blower door test: The blower door test will determine how much energy you're losing through the cracks under and around your doors. You might be surprised by how much leakage there is in these areas.
- Thermographic scan: Another common test used in home energy audits is the thermographic scan. This is generally conducted with an infrared camera that can reveal a lot of information about where hot and cold air are entering your home. This is a great way to reveal leaks.
After the Audit
Once the assessment of your home is complete, the auditor can point out specific areas of your home where you're using more energy than needed. They'll show you where there are leaks, and they can make useful suggestions to help you conserve more energy. As a result, you'll spend much less on your energy bills. Some auditors even give you a home energy score, which has a scale of one to ten.
Get an energy audit, and find out where you’re losing energy. Once you know where the problems are, you can fix them and start reducing those energy bills. So stop timing your showers and stop playing dictator with the thermostat, and start finding out exactly where you biggest energy losses are coming from.