What You Should Know About Home Energy AuditsHome energy audits help you save money on energy bills. Continue reading to learn what you need to know about home energy audits today.
Home energy audits provide insight into how well your home heating, cooling and energy systems are performing. Some energy or utility providers send out limited home energy audits for free every quarter. Professional audits are also available for purchase through trained and experienced service providers. Conducting your own home energy assessment as a DIY project is also possible with some research and commitment. Is saving money every month important to you and your household? Read ahead to learn what you need to know about home energy audits today.
Energy Efficiency 101
The definition of efficiency refers to the “quality or state of being efficient.” Technically, efficiency refers the ratio of useful work performed by a device, system or (within a) process to the total amount of energy expended to complete the process. Home energy efficiency is more simply referred to as the process of using less power to perform basic household functions. These functions include running your refrigerator or air conditioning window unit. They also include using less energy to heat your water, turn your lights on and cook your food.
Understanding the Disadvantages of Poor Home Energy Efficiency
What might seem obvious to many homeowners is how home energy efficiency saves money on monthly and annual household expenses. For example, if you use less of something it commonly costs you less money. Therefore, wasting energy creates a financial disadvantage by costing you more money to perform basic household functions. While the financial savings aspect of energy efficiency is important, other advantages and disadvantages are also necessary to consider.
Poor energy efficiency leads to discomfort in some, or all rooms. Some rooms might be uncomfortably cold during the winter and uncomfortably hot during the summer. A home with poor energy efficiency might also have inconsistent or uneven temperatures on different floors or even from one end of a hallway to the other.
Cold floors are another disadvantage of poor energy efficiency. Floors directly above a basement, garage or crawlspace are often cold to the touch when insulation is inadequate or improperly installed. Cold floors are more than a comfort-based disadvantage. This issue leads to potentially inaccurate thermostat readings, which force your HVAC system to work harder.
Drafts cause your energy budget to go out the window or door - literally. Improperly sealed or broken windows and doors let the outside air into your home, and the air modified by your HVAC system outside. This causes uneven temperatures in your home and inaccurate thermostat readings. Drafts also cause your HVAC system to underwork or overwork, depending on the season and climate.
When ice builds up in your gutters or along the edge of your roof, you might have poor energy efficiency in your insulation or heating system. Hot air rises and leaks into your attic, which heats the center of your roof. This causes ice to melt temporarily, until the melted water runs down to the unheated lower portions of your roof. Icy gutters and roofs lead to expensive water damage, cracked gutters and damaged roof materials.
Allergens, Mildew and Mold
When your home has poor energy efficiency, the resulting leaking air and poor ventilation leads to reduced air quality. Reduced air quality leads to the presence of countless possible allergens inside your home. Mold and mildew also build up when air is poorly ventilated, which leads to respiratory issues, some of which become serious.
Here’s How a Home Energy Assessment Helps
A home energy assessment, also commonly referred to as a home energy audit, helps you assess the big-picture of your home’s energy usage. This helps you budget for upcoming expenses. It also helps you take action to reduce your expenses by installing energy efficient solutions and changing out problematic components with energy and money-saving solutions. Essentially, a home energy audit functions as a budget and business plan for your household energy usage and consumption. Issues requiring prioritizing can be solved first, with plans laid out to resolve subsequent issues also needing upgrades, repairs, or replacements.
Professional Home Energy Assessment Services - Types and Nationwide Options
Limited energy assessments are commonly provided by electric and other utility companies once per quarter or more for free. Very little information is provided, however. Professional energy audit consultants are also available for hire to provide more in-depth information about the energy efficiency of your home. Some companies provide audits, estimates and assessments only. Other companies provide the audits, while also offering upgrade, repair, and replacement services. Companies are privately owned or government-operated, with some advocacy-based energy consultants even emphasizing the impact of household energy use on climate change. Some of the top nationwide energy audit consultants in business today include:
- CMC Energy Services.
- American Energy Advisors.
- Green Audit USA.
- Home Energy Connection (Nevada),
- Synergy Companies (California).
- Robison (New York).
- Builders Energy Rater (Texas).
- Dr. Energy Saver (Florida).
- Priority Energy (Illinois).
Overview of What’s Involved (services provided)
Information is gathered about the energy used in your home. A report is created, which details where your home is both energy efficient and inefficient. Assessments, surveys, and estimates are created. If the provider also handles upgrades, repairs, and replacements they might provide free needs-and-costs estimates. Energy audit consultants who only provide the assessments are likely to charge for their audit services outright.
Whole-home air sealing and insulation improvement services are conducted. Ducts are also sealed and insulated. Any aspect of your home suffering from mold or mildew are sanitized if not removed and replaced completely. Your HVAC system will be improved accordingly. Additional services include the installation of:
- Upgraded home ventilation systems.
- Smart-technology thermostats, LEDs, and power strips.
- ENERGY STAR appliances.
- Solar PVs.
- Electric vehicle charger(s).
Time Required and Average Costs
A home energy assessment audit takes between thirty-minutes and four hours or more, depending on the size of your house and the severity of its energy inefficiency. Average costs for these services also vary based on the size of your home, its location and provider policies. The median national cost for an energy assessment is $409, although prices might range between $100 and $1,700 or more. Expect to save between five and thirty percent on future energy bills after all recommended services (upgrades, repairs, replacements etc.) are completed.
Additional Ways to Save Energy (and money)
It is also possible to save money on energy bills by increasing your home’s energy efficiency on your own. Switch to incandescent light bulbs, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Install ENERGY STAR appliances. Perform regular DIY home inspections to check for leaks, drafts, and inconsistent temperatures. Inspect your insulation twice a year, test for faulty wiring and change applicable filters regularly.