Is an Energy Audit Worth It and Why Should You Get One?
An energy audit is a service that is available to everyone, but only a few people take advantage of it. If you’ve recently heard that the service exists, you may be wondering if an energy audit is worth it and why you should get one. This article explains what an energy audit is and how it can deliver valuable benefits.
What is an Energy Audit?
Energy audits identify ways to reduce energy consumption to lower a home or business owner’s cost of energy. Many government and utility agencies provide financial incentives for performing an energy audit. There may also be rebates available for having a professional auditor assess your property.
Using less energy puts more money in your pocket, which makes energy audits a valuable service that can pay for itself over time.
Critical information about your energy usage will identify areas around your property that can be improved. The final report will give your property an overall Energy Star rating that indicates its overall energy efficiency.
Benefits of Home Energy Audits
Home energy audits won’t provide direct benefits other than information about where the bulk of your energy costs come from.
The biggest advantages come from acting on the recommendations. Following through on the advice will help you save energy and money on your bills, as well as create a home with less of an environmental impact.
Who Performs an Energy Audit?
If you simply want suggestions on how to save money on utility bills, a do-it-yourself audit may work better for you. DIY audits are inexpensive and easy to do, allowing you to quickly identify simple ways to lower your monthly bills without breaking the bank.
While you can perform an energy audit as a DIY project, a professional auditor will do a more thorough assessment for possibly better results. Qualified auditors have specialized training and experience that helps them locate energy-sucking areas and appliances around your property that are costing you money.
Just about everything you do requires energy. Heating and cooling make up the bulk at about 40%, appliances and hot water consume a further 40%, and refrigeration, lighting, and cooking make up the rest.
An energy audit will assess all of the above areas to reveal where your biggest savings can be made.
What Happens During an Energy Audit?
An energy audit occurs in three stages: evaluation, air tightness testing, and recommendations.
Energy Audit Evaluation
The energy auditor will do a walk-through of the interior and exterior of the property to locate problem areas. They will also examine the insulation in your attic, the heating and cooling systems, the basement, and the exterior walls.
Auditors will measure the external dimensions of the property and count the number of doors and windows.
Air Tightness Tests
An airtightness test, or blower test, will find air leaks around the property. The front door of the property will be sealed, and a large fan will be placed inside.
Turning the fan on will pressurize the building, revealing cracks and holes where air can leak through. You can sometimes feel the leaks with your hand, but feathers or the smoke from incense provide a more accurate indication.
Thermographic scans made with infrared cameras reveal more details about your home’s energy efficiency. These tests can help you understand more about your insulation requirements, or whether existing insulation has been installed properly.
Once the audit is complete, the auditor will provide you with a list of recommendations. Auditors will usually find a variety of opportunities to improve your energy consumption, such as installing energy-efficient light bulbs, sealing up air leaks, and installing insulation.
Improving your insulation situation is an efficiency upgrade that delivers excellent value for money. Attic insulation will significantly decrease the work your HVAC needs to do to keep your living areas comfortable.
Are Home Energy Audits Worth It and How to Get One?
Unfortunately, energy audits are not free, and you will have to pay contractors to fix the inefficiency problems. There is always the risk that the cost of the audit may be greater than the savings, especially if you are already energy conscious.
However, if your energy bills are excessive, an energy audit may be worth it. If you’re lucky, you may be able to snag a free audit when your power company or municipality makes them available. Some areas also offer rebates to local residents, so it can pay to keep an eye out for these offers.
Can You Do Your Own Energy Audits?
If an energy audit by a professional is too costly, it’s possible to do your own. Use this guide to find some of the most common energy drains in your home.
Check for drafty windows and doors and add weather stripping to prevent air from leaking through the gaps.
You can plug appliances into smart plugs that transfer power usage information to a control panel. These devices give you real-time updates on energy usage in dollars and kilowatt hours.
Many devices now have a standby mode. When you have enough of these plugged in, you could be increasing your energy bill by up to 10%. Switching devices off or unplugging them when not in use can save you between $50 to $100 annually.
Old ductwork with worn-out adhesive tape can have leaks letting out heated or cooled air. Heat transfer from a warm attic to the cool air traveling through the ductwork can also increase your energy bill. A radiant barrier and insulation on the ductwork will significantly reduce the workload of your air conditioning system.
Examine the insulation in your attic and add or replace it if necessary. Attic hatches are rarely insulated, so there is little more than a sheet of plywood between the living area and a hot attic. Unsealed hatchways are also a source of energy loss. An airtight hatch and a well-insulated attic can shave almost 30% off your energy bill.
When you are looking for ways to create greater energy efficiency in your home, one of the first places you should look is in your attic. Do you have insulation, or is your insulation old and degraded? Good-quality insulation has a lifespan of two or three decades, but it doesn’t last forever.
If you’ve noticed your energy bills creeping up, it might be time to check your home’s insulation. Attic Pros are experts in attic cleaning and insulation services, so find out today how easy it is to reduce your energy bills with an affordable, professional service.