Home Energy Audits 101

By Home IQ Team

The options for calculating your home’s energy efficiency

Believe it or not the thaw is on its way, and as those spring cleaning lists grow, be sure to add a home energy audit to your to-dos. The audits take a closer look around the house and can help identify more than the obvious energy sucking cracks and leaks you’re already aware of – and in addition to being beneficial for the environment, the audits can help you save, too. Today we’ve got the scoop on home energy audits.

Energy Audit Options

DIY Approach

If you’re planning to take the DIY rout to the audit, we suggest (as always) doing the research first. Since taking a walking tour of your home to find problem areas can seem like a daunting task, it’s a good idea to identify target areas for improvement. For example, here the DOE’s Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE) office provides Air Leaks, Insulation, Heating/Cooling and Lighting as main categories; then the site gives details on how to take a closer look at them in your home.

DIFM Approach

For energy audits when it comes to hiring the pros there’s a ton of options, and it’s essential to pick the most credible source. Certification is something important to look for in a home energy audit service. At Home Intel we think the best bet is too look for a tie to an organization or association, since most likely means the pros were trained and tested on the latest standards in energy efficiency. The Building Performance Institute offers services to find a certified contractor, as well as background information on the different tests and they do and what they’re looking to gather. The Residential Energy Services Network can help you find a certified tester, and also provides a wealth of valuable information for consumers.

Outside of associations/organizations/institutions there are a variety of independent audit solutions. Since there’s a lot of clutter to navigate through in the world of independent audit services, Wall Street Journal wrote a piece on filtering the good from the bad. They found a lot of services that either gave too technical much info that, or services that didn’t give enough feedback in their reporting. Still in their research they did find a few winners, and their ratings and conclusions are outlined at the end of the article.

Keep in mind…

  • Technology - It’s important to make sure energy audit services and pros have the experience and certification, but if you’re going to pay for a service make sure they’ve also got the leading technology for the job. The EERE says key devices and methods include blower door test, thermographic scans and the PFT air infiltration measurement technique. It’s up to you how much you want to learn about these new technologies/methods, but it’s a good idea to at least mention them in your audit service interview process.
  • Set Goals – Whether you’re doing a DIY audit or working with a pro, make sure you set expectations and communicate what you want to get out of the audit. If you’re doing it on your own set a plan for yourself and don’t deviate from that rout. If you’re working with a pro use the EERE list as a reference and give them areas you’d like to focus on improving in addition to the areas they’ll search on their own.
  • Next Steps – Once the audit is complete it’s easy to loose steam and motivation to carry out the improvements to problem areas you found. Gather your results divide them into two categories – areas of improvement you and your family can make and bigger projects that you may want to consult a professional on. If you worked with a service to do your audit, ask them for suggestions for next steps.

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