Why to Get a Home Energy Audit
February 9, 2015.
In his book Eaarth, Bill McKibben reminds us, "job number one, on almost anyone's list is conservation, because the less power we use, the less sun and wind we'll need to capture."
Job number one begins at home, and one of the best ways to begin is to sign up for a home energy assessment. This means asking a qualified home energy auditor to come and inspect your house. Many energy management companies offer this as a free service.
Auditors examine the whole house as an energy system. They inspect doors and windows; check the furnace, hot water heater, air-conditioner, refrigerator and other appliances. They usually climb around the basement and attic, inspecting insulation and crawl spaces. And since energy technology has advanced rapidly, most auditors make use of high-tech tools: an infrared camera that sees through walls and shows where hot and cold air travel throughout your house, a manometer to measure the differences in baseline pressure, a carbon monoxide detector, a laser tape measure - just to name a few.
Depending on the size of the house, an inspection usually takes a couple of hours. Auditors can then do a comprehensive computer analysis on the spot, pinpointing which energy upgrades are appropriate.
They may suggest low cost ways to get started, such as applying simple weather-stripping around windows and doors, putting in a programmable thermostat, installing a water-saving shower head, using smart power strips for computers, printers and TVs, and gradually replacing incandescent lights with LED bulbs.
If the recommendations are more extensive, such as replacing doors or windows, or installing additional insulation, then you'll need to take into consideration the value of your house and how long you plan to live there. In the long run, energy improvements can add to the resale value.
To find more information, and locate an auditor, check with your local energy supplier. Utility companies are beginning to offer free or subsidized home energy audits, which sometimes can even include providing and installing some energy saving devices at no cost. Another source of information can be your town, city or state energy office. The website DsireUSA.org offers a searchable database of local, state, federal and utility incentives that support energy efficiency.
Over time, the savings on monthly utility bills will typically pay for the costs of improvement, while at the same time drastically reducing the carbon footprint. And one of the indirect benefits of an energy audit can be an increased awareness of energy consumption, and a change in our daily habits. Because in the end, "our actions matter."