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How to Get a Home Energy Audit Done and What Questions to Ask

Read on to see how to use a home energy audit to benefit your home and your wallet.
Q: What is a home energy audit?
A: A home energy audit is when an energy expert comes to your home and evaluates the overall efficiency of the house and tells you what improvements should be done first, to save you the most.

Q: How will they measure the efficiency of my house?
A: One of the most important ways energy audits are done is by the amount of air being lost from the home. Contractors measure this with something called a blower door test. During this test, the energy experts hook up a very strong blower in an outside door to your home and turn it on. The blower acts like a large vacuum and pulls air out of the house. The inside air pressure lowers and the higher pressure outside forces air in through unsealed cracks and openings. The expert then writes down analytic data which shows how much air is being lost from the home. They also have special instruments to find exactly where the air leaks are in the house. Once work is performed to cut down on air loss, measurements are taken again to make sure all areas have been effectively treated.

Q: What kinds of things will an energy auditor do to my home?
A: Professional energy auditors will typically look for and seal the many leak points that add cost to energy bills. They also look at existing things in the home to check whether or not they are as efficient as possible. For example, they will look at your attic insulation and tell you whether or not it is the type and amount of insulation needed to keep the house as comfortable as possible. Auditors will also tell you whether your exterior doors and windows are too drafty, depending on their findings. If your light bulbs are not efficient, they will change the bulbs to energy efficient bulbs.

Home energy auditors can recommend better hot water heaters and furnaces if they see yours is an outdated, inefficient model. Tests are also performed on all energy appliances to determine this. They will give you tips on getting the most out of your home appliances and the energy they use. Different auditors do a variety of things during a home energy audit, but these are the big points a responsible auditor should cover while at your home.

Q: What is the cost of a home energy audit?
A: Home energy audit costs depend on the contractor you go with. But cheaper is not always better. Many times, going with the cheapest contractor will get you what you paid for – a cheap result that doesn’t save you as much as it could. Instead, focus on hiring a responsible home energy auditor who offers a comprehensive energy audit and doesn’t try to just get into your wallet. A good auditor will explain their cost to you and explain anything that doesn’t make sense. Don’t be afraid to ask if something doesn’t make sense – it’s your home after all and you should know as much about it as possible.

Q: If I put an addition on my home do I need to get an energy audit again?
A: Putting an addition on a home means a new building “envelope” that is going to get carved out by electricians, plumbers and other contractors. It’s possible that the addition could be as energy inefficient as the main house was originally. It’s best to call your home energy auditor and ask if they could evaluate the new part of the home, to ensure it’s as up-to-date and effective as possible. And since you’re a past customer, many auditors will even give you a discount for being a repeat customer, so be sure to ask.

To find a contractor who performs comprehensive, 90-point home energy audits in your area, contact Dr. Energy Saver.

Marianne Snyder frequently writes about home improvement topics like basement waterproofing, crawl space repair and home energy efficiency.