Energy Audits Can Help You Save Money and Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Photo credit: flickr.com

Photo credit: flickr.com

My husband and I had recently purchased a new home. Though we debated for a long time over whether to purchase a newly renovated home, or an older home, I eventually won the fight and we went with an older home purchase. What can I say; I’m a sucker for crown moldings, hardwood floors, and the overall aesthetics of an older home. Anyway, we’ve been slowly transitioning into our new home. As I become more aware of my personal finances and carbon footprint we leave on the earth, I’ve been trying to be more conscious of ways to save money and help the environment.

Needless to say, after only three months of living in our new home, I realized that we were spending entirely too much on electricity. We did our best to turn off lights when we weren’t using them, and even upgrading to LED lighting, however, it seemed that energy was still being wasted. So in an effort to better understand what was going on, I decided to consider an energy audit or assessment from a professional.

What is an Energy Assessment?

According to Energy.gov, an energy assessment or audit is simply that – the assessment of your household’s energy consumption. A trained auditor will comes out to your home and does a complete room by room evaluation and review your monthly energy bills. In doing this, the auditor is able to pinpoint areas of your home where you’re losing the most energy and provides professional recommendations on how to improve that.

Finding and Hiring an Energy Auditor

While there are several places you could check to locate a home energy auditor, the best place to start is by searching for local electricity companies. As you search for the appropriate organization to complete the energy audit, it is beneficial to do your due diligence:

– Experience – Receiving an energy audit from an individual without experience leaves you right back at square one. When searching for the right service provider, be sure that you inquire about their experience in completing residential energy audits.

– Licensing and Certifications – It is never a good idea to allow someone into your home for services of any kind without the proper paperwork. Ensure that they have the proper licensing and certifications to complete the task at hand.

– Customer Experience – Before deciding to hire an energy auditor it is important to consider their ability to provide the best experience. Consumer reviews from reputable sources can help you in determining whether or not the service provider will give you quality services. You can also check the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any outstanding complaints you should be worried about.

Prepping for Your Audit

Once you’ve chosen the right electrical company to perform your energy audit you’ll want to do a few things in preparation:

1. Make a list of any existing problems you’d like to bring up about your home

2. Have all requested documents such as copies of your energy bills ready for the auditor’s review.

What to Expect from the Audit?

On the day of the energy audit, you should set aside approximately an hour or two. The audit typically begins with the home’s exterior. The auditor will assess various areas of the home, and complete a sketch of the layout to better record information. Once they have completed this, they will then want to talk with you about any areas of concern you may have had as it pertains to energy consumption in your home.

Once they have an idea of what your concerns are, they will review your energy bills to get a baseline for usage. They will then complete a thorough inspection of appliances such as your furnace, water heater, washer, and dryer. An interior inspection then takes place in areas including the attic and basement to assess insulation levels. Next, they will complete a series of tests to determine if there are any air leakage pathways that need to be remedied.

Recommendations

Upon completion of these tests, the auditor will then sit down with you to discuss their findings and provide you with a series of recommendations. Those recommendations could include something as simple as investing in more energy efficient appliances to having the insulation replaced in your attic and basement. It is all up to you as to how you decide to move forward with making your home more efficient.

Equipped with the findings from the auditor, you can then determine what changes you believe will be best for your household financially. We were given several recommendations and decided to gradually work our way up to having them all completed. We started small by investing in better appliances and having the insulation replaced in our homes. Over time, we were able to save about 10% on our energy bills.