Are Home Energy Audits Worth It?
Photo: © Christian Delbert - Dreamstime
Offers for free or low-cost home energy audits are everywhere, but are these home assessments worth your time? Home energy audits are totally worth it, and fall is an ideal time to have an energy assessment performed: you'll receive actionable advice on staying comfortable in cooler temperatures. Learn what to expect when getting a home energy audit and how these audits can help you save money all year round.
What Happens in a Home Energy Audit
These audits typically last two to four hours, depending on the size of your home and the complexity of your home's heating and cooling systems. During the audit, your auditor will tour your home, ask you questions, and use specialized tools to measure energy efficiency. You may follow the auditor from the basement all the way up to the attic, learning where your home is vulnerable to air loss and where energy improvements can be made.
During a typical energy audit, a home energy auditor will test home systems including your appliances, furnace, hot water heater, and central air unit. The auditor will measure air leaks through windows and doors, gauge effectiveness of insulation, and look for gaps near pipes and vents that allow air to penetrate your home's exterior walls.
As the auditor checks each room, he or she will point out issues so you are aware of them. This is your opportunity to ask questions so you understand what corrective actions to take and why they are necessary.
Most auditors also check for important health and safety issues related to air quality. Your home energy auditor may raise concerns about standing water, mildew, mold, or improperly vented home appliances. By correcting any health and safety issues, you can improve the quality of air you and your family breathe, reduce your risk of appliance fire, and enjoy peace of mind.
What You Need for a Home Energy Audit
Typically, energy auditors will want to see one year's worth of utility bills. Gather these in advance to save time. These help the auditor understand your energy-use patterns, determine how much you can expect to save through smart home improvements, and set your expectations. If you do not have 12 months' worth of data, gather what you do have.
Your utility company may be able to recommend energy auditors near you. In some cases, state and local incentives may allow you to obtain a free energy audit. If no such programs exist near you, expect to pay anywhere from $300 to $500 for an energy audit. Since you will receive actionable advice on specific home improvements that will increase home comfort, this is money well spent.
At the conclusion of the audit, the energy auditor will prepare a report that gathers findings and recommendations for you. The auditor may also be able to recommend local incentives or rebates that can help you stretch your budget to make these improvements. Let this report guide your home improvements and invest in upgrades that you can afford. Any energy-efficient improvement you make will return on investment by helping you be more comfortable in your home while simultaneously lowering your energy expenses.