A Home Energy Audit is an analysis of how your home currently wastes energy and identifies opportunities to reduce your energy consumption and costs.
Many companies currently provide different kinds of Home Energy Audits. Here’s some facts to consider:
- Energy assessment – Many contractors provide an informal assessment where they come to your house and recommend some products that could make your house more efficient. This is not an audit. But it’s usually free, and if all you want to do is get a high efficiency furnace or water heater, it’s a good solution.
- Home energy audits include an extensive data collection and testing process. The Building Performance Institute (BPI, www.bpi.org) has created a set of nationally recognized standards for these audits and certifies auditors. Individuals who are trained by BPI’s program use the “house as a system” approach to improving the performance of homes. This approach has been proven to reduce home utility bills. The benefit of this testing is that it ensures that recommendations are based on a particular home’s individual design and components. Click here for more info. Local utilities may have their own variation on the Home Energy Audit, for example, PSE calls it HomePrint™. Most use a custom variation on the sound BPI principles.
The process: The BPI audit process begins with surveying both the exterior and interior of the house and collecting basic data about the house. Then the trained technicians will perform several tests including combustion safety, examining airflow and energy leakage. They review heating and cooling equipment and overall building enclosure performance. The process can also include air quality and particulate monitoring. This process takes about 2 ½ – 4 hours to complete. If your audit company claims one person can conduct a thorough audit in under an hour – be suspicious and ask questions.
Your results: Test results and infrared photos are then interpreted and incorporated into a finished audit report. Your Home Energy Audit report will provide prioritized “remedies” or ideas to improve energy consumption. It’s usually worthwhile to have the audit report presented to you, rather than just mailed. The test interpretation and suggestions may generate questions and you’ll likely have several different approaches you can take. Remember, this is not a home inspection. The energy professional will not inspect the home for defects, pests, mold or safety issues.
If you are like most people, you can always find something that you’d like to improve in your home. Having a thorough audit is a good way to create a wish list for your home improvement needs.
Washington Energy Services in Seattle and Tacoma now provides BPI certified home energy audits. For more information or to sign up for an audit please call 1-800-398-HOME (4663) or request a free estimate.