What Is a Home Energy Audit?

| August 21, 2012

home energy audit A home energy audit is a way to inspect your home to see how efficiently it uses energy. Also known as a home energy assessment, this service identifies areas in the home where you should make energy-efficiency improvements.

Benefits

A home energy audit allows you to assess the amount of energy your home uses and pinpoint where improvements in efficiency can be made. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, home improvements made for energy efficiency can save you 5% to 30% on monthly energy bills. Saving energy is also an environmentally friendly move.

Tax incentives and rebates

Tax incentives exist for a wide variety of home improvements designed to conserve energy. Find potential credits at the DSIRE (Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency), a comprehensive list of incentives for increasing energy efficiency and using renewable energy. The Energy Star Program offers rebates for the use of qualifying appliances.

How a home energy audit is conducted

A professional home energy auditor uses a variety of techniques and special equipment to measure the efficiency of your energy usage. He or she will examine past utility bills and inspect your home, including the state of your air-conditioning and heating units, and items such as duct work and your home’s insulation.

Tests done during an energy audit include a blower door test, which determines how airtight your home is. This is done with a fan mounted into an exterior door frame. The fan pulls air from the house, lowering the inside pressure and inviting air in through any cracks. Thermographic or infrared scans or smoke pencils can be used to detect leaks.

DIY audit

Though it may not be as thorough, you can perform your own home energy audit by examining your utility bills and inspecting your home for leaks in a variety of locations, including electrical outlets, baseboards, wall or window-mounted air-conditioners and anywhere else you suspect energy may be escaping. Also, look at your lighting, which accounts for 10 percent of your electric bill. Usage of many 100-watt bulbs, rather than 60 or 75 watts, can lead to increased energy costs.

Action required

It is important to remember that home energy audits point out the problem; they aren’t the solution. In order to save energy, you have to implement changes as indicated in the audit, such as switching to energy efficient fluorescent bulbs, and sealing and insulating areas of your home that allow the escape of warm or cool air.

Investing in a home energy audit or performing your own energy assessment gives you the opportunity to identify home improvements that are sure to save you money.

Did You Know?

As of the end of 2011, the Energy Star program has awarded $258 million in consumer rebates, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

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Category: Energy Savings, Home & Garden

About the Author ()

Julie Bawden-Davis is a Southern-California-based writer specializing in home and garden, real estate, small business and personal finance. Since 1985, her work has appeared in a wide variety of publications, including Family Circle, Ladies’ Home Journal, Better Homes & Gardens, Entrepreneur and The Los Angeles Times. Julie is a University of California Certified Master Gardener and has written five gardening books, including Reader’s Digest Flower Gardening.