Article

06/07/12

Home Energy Assessment: Find Out Exactly What Your Energy Bill is Paying For

This article is the first in a series on home energy audits/assessments from the Alliance to Save Energy. Check back on ASE.ORG for more!

About 30% of your home’s heating and cooling dollars go right out the door due to leaks and lack of insulation. A home energy audit can keep you from throwing one-third of your energy dollars out the window!

Is the temperature between two rooms in your home significantly different? Do your energy bills remain high even when you make a concerted effort to reduce your family’s electricity use? Have you noticed mold in a room other than your bathroom?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are the perfect candidate for a home energy assessment, often called a home energy “audit.”

What is a Home Energy Audit?

A home energy audit is the first step in determining how much energy your home is using. By pinpointing exactly where energy — and money — leaks are occurring, you can identify improvements that will make your home more energy efficient and comfortable, while saving money and reducing long-term maintenance problems.

Why Get a Home Energy Audit?

Leaky windows and doors don’t just make your home drafty — they also make your monthly energy bill higher. Many leaks are easy to detect, but ones that are out of sight can sap heating and cooling out of your house, and dollars out of your wallet.

A professional energy audit will identify a home’s vulnerabilities for around $300 to $500, and experts say the decision on whether an audit makes financial sense depends on your energy savvy and how much you can afford for a diagnosis.

How a Home Energy Audit Works

home energy auditDuring a home energy audit, a professional energy auditor visits your home. This energy auditor uses special equipment to examine each room and evaluate how it is losing energy. In particular, energy auditors test your home’s:

  • Thermal envelope – which includes ceilings, doors, skylights, walls and windows – to measure how well they insulate
  • Leakage rate, which shows how much outside air is infiltrating your home (such as from gaps under doors and in windows)
  • Mechanical systems, including HVAC systems and water heaters
  • Lighting system — opportunities for more efficient lighting options are often plentiful and include swapping bulbs for more efficient ones that shine just as bright but use less energy

What Are My Options for a Home Energy Audit?

If you have the time, you can perform a thorough assessment of your energy use and make a big dent in your energy bills.

But while guides can help you conduct your own audit, having a professional come into your home has its advantages: Professionals have advanced equipment to identify leaks, and they can target hard-to-see indicators – like condensation and discoloration – of larger issues.

Whether it’s DIY or by a professional, after the home energy audit you will be significantly more ready to tackle your energy use head-on.

home energy assessmentAfter the Home Energy Audit

Chances are that your to-do list will grow a little longer after your home energy audit.  From fixing simple leaks, to replacing a window, to retiling your entire roof, your audit likely will find many issues that could save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

But remember: Your potential savings rest on what changes you decide to address.

Home Energy Audit Resources