A Home Energy Audit — also known as a home energy assessment — is a series of specific tests and inspections performed by a certified professional to determine where your house could be more energy efficient.
We recently had a free Home Energy Review, not the same thing as a Home Energy Audit, performed on our home by a representative of Home Energy Solutions. He came to our home and performed a complimentary 15-point inspection.
It wasn’t a full scale Home Energy Audit as much as it was merely a Home Energy Review — a term that is used on the Home Energy Solutions website. Fair enough.
The difference is that this was a sales call with an agenda to sell their primary product, a radiant barrier called eShield 11,000 Attic Energy Barrier, rather than a “scientific study” that would pinpoint our home energy loss areas with a detailed report.
That’s okay, though, because there was never the assumption on our part that this was anything other than a sales call with the benefit of giving us a heads up on a few helpful tips on things we could do ourselves to improve our home’s energy efficiency.
So… just make certain you know the difference between the two if you are offered a free home energy assessment.
A true Home Energy Audit will NOT be free. It will cost you several hundred dollars because it is intended to benefit the homeowner without the sales pitch and you will be given a multi-page report with tons of technical data about your house.
We had a different salesman from another company come to our door later in the week under the Home Energy Review cloak and he was selling eShield, also. (There’s an hour out of my life that I’ll never get back.) When comparing the two, the first guy was more thorough and did a better job. The second guy didn’t even bother to go more than halfway up the pull-down stairs to the attic and made his assessment of my attic from there. What a joke!
So here’s what you need to know about a Home Energy Audit vs. a Home Energy Review — and how to do them yourself…
What Does A Home Energy Audit Consist Of?
I called a professional Home Energy Audit service and asked for the cost of their service. Plan on around $400 for a home up to 4,000 sq. ft and $100 additional for each 1,ooo sq. ft. Each contractor’s fee may vary.
There are at least 3 tests that every certified home energy auditor should perform:
- Blower Door Test with a calibrated door – to measure the extent of leaks in the building envelope.
- Thermographic Inspection with an infrared thermal imaging camera – to reveal areas of air infiltration and missing insulation throughout all areas of the your home. Be sure that the company you hire uses high resolution infrared cameras (320×240 is ideal).
- HVAC Ductwork Leakage Test – to inspect ductwork connections, insulation, and the HVAC units themselves.
The auditor will inspect the exterior and interior of your home looking for potential problem areas.
Another item on the list is your water heater. They will check the age of the unit and suggest that you put an insulated blanket around and on top of it.
Prior to your appointment, you should gather several months of your utility bills to review with the auditor.
What Does A Home Energy Review Consist Of?
The tips that the salesman from Home Energy Solutions provided during my Home Energy Review made a lot of sense.
I was proud of the fact that I had already done many of the things that were on his checklist of homeowner DIY tasks to improve energy efficiency in the home.
The laundry list of items he suggested for all homeowners were as follows:
- Wrap the water heater (including the top) with a thermal/radiant blanket.
- Turn down the water heater thermostat so that the temperature is no more than 120º F.
- Insulate the inside of the garage door.
- Add weatherstripping around the exterior of the garage door to keep drafts out.
- Install a programmable thermostat for your HVAC system and learn how to operate it effectively. This includes programming it not to have temperature swings of more than 10º from hour-to-hour.
- If you have pull-down stairs to your attic, add a piece of closed cell foam weatherstripping to the attic door — around the outer edge on the inside. This will give you a good seal.
- Install an insulated attic door cover.
- Add a new seal on the bottom of the garage door.
- Add insulation to the ceiling of unfinished areas in the garage and basement to meet or exceed R-14.
- Tighten up the lugs on the electric panel to insure more consistent power delivery. Inconsistent power will add wear and tear to appliances and light bulbs. (NOTE: This requires hiring an electrician!)
- Switch out incandescent bulbs for CFL bulbs. (We’ve had CFL’s in many of our fixtures and they didn’t seem to last nearly as long as promised. We made the decision to buy back into incandescent bulbs in most fixtures of the house. LED light bulbs are another good alternative.)
- Set your refrigerator temperature to 40ºF and your freezer to no less than 0ºF.
- Apply low-E film to the interior of your single-pane windows.
- Replace the threshold gaskets on all of your entrances, if needed.
- Check all exterior door gaskets and replace, if needed, or every 5 to 7 years.
- Install a chimney balloon when the fireplace is not in use. It will seal the chimney and keep the conditioned air inside your house.
- Use an infrared thermometer with laser sight to measure where is air leaking in or out by pinpointing differences in temperatures, water temps, and much more. It’s very handy and inexpensive for the amount of valuable info it will give you.
More About Home Energy Audits
- U.S. Department of Energy Home Energy Audit Info
- Home Energy Audit Benefits
- Energy Star Home Energy Audits
- How To Prepare For A Home Energy Audit
I started as a home-stalker… visiting brand new homes under construction in the neighborhoods near my house. That inspired me to write about home building and home renovation projects — chronicling homes during different phases of construction from a consumer's point-of-view. Basically, the tips you'll find in my articles are a collection of checklists for what I think should (and should not) go into building or remodeling a quality home.