What is an “Energy Audit” (and how to do one)?
Do you tend to grimace when certain items arrive in the mail or appear in your email inbox? Do you hesitate to open your electric bill, or gas bill, or other energy-related charges? An energy audit may help make that experience less cringe-worthy.
An energy audit will evaluate your home for wasted energy from a wide variety of sources, ranging from leaky windows and doors, to outdated energy-hogging appliances, and areas that need a little extra insulation or other attention.
Energy Audit Options
There are several different types of energy audits, but the three main categories are:
1. Free Energy Audits
Many major electric companies offer their customers an energy audit, free of charge. Usually, this only involves a visual inspection and takes about an hour. The company’s representative may recommend caulking, weather stripping, replacing old appliances, and adding more insulation.
Contact your local electric company or cooperative to find out if they offer this free service.
2. Professional Energy Audits
These are performed by audit professionals using specialized tools and equipment (like a blower to test for door leaks and a thermal camera to capture where your house is losing energy, and at what rate). It can take 3 to 4 hours to complete this type of audit.
A professional energy audit isn’t cheap (sometimes running $500 or more), but the long-term savings could justify the expenditure. Implementing the changes called for by a professional auditor can save up to 30 percent on your monthly bill. Some energy companies also offer discounts on the service if you use an approved auditor.
3. Do-It-Yourself Energy Audits
You can also make a positive difference in your energy usage by implementing these steps:
- Determine the source of drafts and eliminate them
- Check your HVAC duct work for any leaks
- Check the power usage on major appliances (using tools like the Kill-A-Watt® energy meter)
- Replace energy-hogging devices in your home with more efficient ones
- Swap out incandescent bulbs for more energy-efficient LED options
The Benefits of an Energy Audit
Aside from the obvious savings in your monthly bill, some utility companies offer rebates for customers who follow their energy-saving recommendations.
In the long run, making your home more energy efficient will save money AND make your home more attractive to potential buyers in the future. Be sure to add information about the energy upgrades you’ve made in your home maintenance notebook for easy reference.
For many more suggestions on improving your home’s energy efficiency, check out these resources: