Home sustainability is a concept with so many moving parts, that it can be easy to get overwhelmed. By now, most have likely heard handy tips such as changing your light bulbs to CFLs from incandescents (which as of January 1st will be much more prudent as a new law now prohibits the manufacturing of 40- & 60-watt incandescents), but beyond that it can be hard to decide where to begin. Hours of online research may put the novice home improver in a better position to make some changes, and for some that is sufficient. Although, if you’re more interested in being told directly what changes to make in your specific home rather than becoming a green investigator, an energy audit may be right for you.
Energy audits are performed by experts in the field of home inspections. The three main benefits you’ll find are conserving resources, saving money and greater comfort in your home. Several types of audits are available. A basic home inspection can cost as little as $200 and will involve an auditor doing a visual walk through of your home. This includes inspecting the grounds, the exterior of your home, the roof, electrical system, appliances and plumbing. A more in depth inspection will use specialized equipment and tests to pinpoint air leaks throughout the home, as well as analyze your air quality. Once an inspection is done, a report will be given to the homeowner itemizing all areas in need of improvement. Typically, these reports will be organized by cost or return on investment. Simple solutions may have a nominal cost and pay for itself in no time at all; others are investments that may be appropriate for a later time. A great example of this is a water heater. If your current appliance is doing the job fine, replacing it due to the audit would not be cost effective. However, in 5 years it may be time to replace it. At that time, you can reference your report and invest more wisely based on the recommendations made by your auditor.
A home energy audit is the perfect solution for those who have more of the “leave it to a professional” mindset rather than the “Do-it-yourself-er”. You’ll come out with a tremendous amount of specialized information about your home and a clear cut direction on how to make your home more efficient and comfortable.
And remember, when choosing an auditor, make sure you select your professional wisely. Look for someone with a BPI or RESNET certification.