Every season marks some changes in the greater Capital District weather that we all experience. And with each changing season, we see ads for home energy audits. Fortunately, a high quality audit helps identify energy efficiency issues with your home. As a result, homeowners have the opportunity to address these issues and ultimately, save money on their monthly bills. However, how does a homeowner know the audit provided a proper energy assessment? How does a homeowner know if the auditor is just a salesman in disguise?
Fortunately, homeowners have plenty of resources that help identify high quality energy audits from sales calls. To help, the following questions and guidance provide homeowners with some information that enables you to tell if you’ll receive an unbiased and neutral energy assessment.
What does a high quality energy assessment cover?
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, an energy audit gauges how much energy your home consumes and identifies energy efficient solutions that potentially save you significant money over time!
For example, a comprehensive energy audit evaluates energy features including:
- Heating and cooling systems.
- Lighting systems and major appliances.
- Cathedral ceilings and attic spaces.
- Exhaust fans and mechanical ventilation systems.
- Basements and crawl spaces.
- Exterior walls, foundation walls, and concrete slabs.
- Windows, doors and skylights.
- Domestic hot water systems.
- Renewable energy systems.
- Attached garages.
Additionally, a comprehensive energy assessment leverages field testing tools during the audit. For example, if your auditor simply walks through the home and does use any devices to measure the efficiency readings, then take the end results with a grain of salt. However, if your auditor uses tools, such as pressure diagnostic testing, blower door testing, carbon monoxide testing, then the auditor possess unbiased information that offer worthwhile recommendations.
Is a free audit a proper energy assessment?
It depends, but most likely a free audit does not include diagnostic testing. Typically, a valuable energy audit does costs a fee, so it is important to understand how the auditor inspects your home. Generally, free energy audits fall into two main categories (walk-through energy audits or company offered energy audits).
Walk-through Energy Audits
Many no-cost or free energy audits provide a walk-through audits. Walk-through energy audits, involve an energy auditor walking through your home collecting data from the homeowner and through visual inspection. However, most walk-through energy audits do not include diagnostic testing. As a result, the audit lacks detail or specific recommendations.
Although there are some considerations, free energy audits remain a positive first step for homeowners. After all, these audits highlight any glaring issues and offer an opportunity to conduct more research. Conversely, a high quality energy audit results in a roadmap that creates a more comfortable home. When done properly, a higher quality energy audit pinpoints the true sources of energy inefficiency or comfort problems in your home. A comprehensive audit identifies issues and offers specific recommendations for things such as excessive air leaks, insufficient insulation levels and inefficient heating and cooling systems.
Company Offered No-Cost Energy Audits
Some companies perform free energy audits with the intent of selling specific products or equipment. Be wary of companies that use low to no-cost energy audits because they are often a glorified sales pitch. For example, window companies that perform free energy audits frequently offer window replacement quotes regardless of the home’s actual energy efficiency or comfort problems. Conversely, an effective and unbiased energy audit results in recommendations based on the deficiencies of your home. The results of properly completed energy assessment does not align with the specific products or services of the company conducting the audit. If it does, mark the recommendation with a grain of salt.
Prior to taking time out of your schedule for a free energy audit and home assessment, ask a few questions, such as:
- Will it include diagnostic testing?
- Are the final recommendations customized to my home?
Many local energy companies offer audits, which are worthwhile, but mainly identify easy to find issues.
What does a comprehensive energy audit reveal about my home?
A thorough home energy audit may reveal problems and comfort issues like:
- Ventilation issues.
- Inefficient lighting and low-efficiency appliances.
- Gas leaks.
- Defective ducts.
- Insufficient insulation.
- Air leaks.
Additionally, the energy assessment may address certain health issues, such as excess moisture, the presence of mold, asbestos, and ambient carbon monoxide levels. Finally, a thorough energy assessment pinpoints hidden electronic loads, revealing the source of energy waste in the home. The auditor makes recommendations to reduce energy consumption, and the homeowner must follow through and implement the high-priority fixes in order to see utility savings. Solutions range from DIY tasks like replacing light bulbs to more complicated projects that require the expertise of a quality contractor.
Upon completion of the audit, the auditor also provides recommendations prioritized according to your goals as a homeowner. Common fixes include air sealing to reduce drafts and adding insulation to make the home more comfortable and resistant to condensation-related problems like rot and mold.
What should I expect from the energy assessment process?
Quality energy audits provide homeowners with detailed information about existing and potential home comfort problems. As a result, homeowners receive clear recommendations about resolving these potential issues. However, to get to the end result, homeowners should understand the process.
- First, select a contractor and schedule a time for an audit.
- Second, the contractor inspects your home (while you walking through the audit).
- Third, the auditor analyzes the results and provides you with detailed recommendations. These customized recommendation offer solutions based on your needs and any problems found in your home.
- Then, you decide which of these improvements you want performed. Additionally, work with your contractor, who can identify available cash incentives or tax credits available for these improvements.
- Finally, the contractor installs the improvements and you start to see savings on your monthly energy costs.
Additionally, upon completion of the improvements, contractors perform a test out. Essentially, the contractor performs the same comprehensive audit from the start of the process.
So, you can see the differences before and after the improvements are made!
How can I improve my home energy efficiency now?
First, start with your own home walk thru. During the personal assessment, look for everyday things that help conserve energy, such as:
- Replace standard light bulbs with LED bulbs.
- Turn off the lights, TV, computers, ceiling fans, etc. when they are not in use.
- Reduce hot water usage.
- Switch to Energy Star-labeled appliances like refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines, etc.
- Manage home temperatures with a programmable thermostat.
- Cover drafty windows.
A.Johnson works with homeowners in the Capital District area to provide an energy assessment and fix all plumbing, heating and cooling issues in your home. From energy audits and routine maintenance to emergency service, contact us today to improve your home comfort needs!