Are Home Energy Audits Worth It?
Like most homeowners, you probably pay too much for electricity and heat. This is partially the result of rising energy prices, but the impact on your bank account is also likely caused in part by inefficient home construction and design.
There are many steps you can take to improve the energy efficiency of your home. Before you settle on a particular upgrade, however, the best place to start is a professional home energy audit.
What Is a Home Energy Audit?
A home energy audit is a professional assessment of how well your house performs according to current standards for home energy efficiency. The vast majority of older houses will fall short of today’s best practices, enabling the auditor to make targeted recommendations for improvements.
Home energy auditors are specially trained to apply the principles of building sciences and home performance to assess the energy efficiency of your house. The typical home energy audit generally consists of the following steps:
- Inspecting the foundation and exterior walls of your home for air leaks
- Checking the seal on openings and edges, including windows, doors, air vents, light fixtures, electrical outlets, plumbing fixtures, baseboards, fireplaces, etc.
- Room-specific inspection of areas prone to energy loss, including:
- Performing a blower door test – thermal imaging of the home when it is depressurized can determine the severity of air leakage
The home energy auditor will also review your utility bills for the past year to gain a thorough understanding of your energy consumption. Once all of the steps of the audit are complete, the auditor will employ specialized software to analyze the energy performance of your home. This custom report will provide you with the information you need to make decisions about your home energy improvement options.
Why Should I Get an Energy Audit?
Knowledge is power. This is the main benefit of a home energy audit: knowledge of your home’s efficiency and what you can do to improve.
After a home energy audit, you will basically have a roadmap for how to reduce your home energy usage. The next steps are up to you based on the issues you want to address, your budget, and your goals. Once any and all upgrades are complete, you can enjoy benefits such as:
- Lower energy bills: Applying the insights from the energy audit can save you money in the long run.
- Greater comfort inside your home: Upgrading insulation inside your home can eliminate drafts, cold spots, and other issues stemming from air leaks.
- Better air quality: Sealing air leaks can stop contaminants such as allergens, mold and mildew, and animal waste from entering the air in your home, enabling you and your family to breathe easier.
- Reduced environmental impact: Residential homes account for more than one-fifth of total energy use in the United States. Efficient homes use less fossil fuels. As a result, investing in home energy upgrades is good for the planet as a whole.
- Improved home value: Energy efficiency is a major concern among home buyers, especially in environmentally conscious places like Denver and other areas of Colorado. If you decide to sell your house, you can ask for more – and probably get it – by following the recommendations from the home energy audit.
Energy efficiency upgrades are an investment in your home. Think of the home energy audit as part of that investment. When you use the results of the home energy audit as a guide, the return on investment will become apparent as you enjoy spending less on power in a comfortable, more sustainable home.
How Much Does a Home Energy Audit Cost?
The cost of a home energy audit varies by company. At REenergizeCO, the price for a home energy audit is $335. However, this is the cost before any rebates are applied.
Xcel Energy offers a 60% rebate ($200 maximum) when you get a home energy audit performed by a registered participating contractor. The standard Xcel energy audit includes a blower door test and thermal imaging.
Home energy audit rebates are also available through other utilities in the Front Range. For example, eligible homeowners in Fort Collins, Loveland, Longmont, and Estes Park pay only $60 upfront for a home efficiency assessment and qualify for additional Energy Works rebates when upgrades are performed by an approved service provider.
No matter where you live and who provides your power, it is important to know of any rebates, discounts, and other special pricing that may be available. Rebates can help offset the initial cost, making this crucial first step toward better efficiency more affordable.
Can I Perform a Home Energy Audit Myself?
Whether you want to save money or you prefer to handle home improvements yourself, a D.I.Y. home energy audit is certainly an option. Visual inspection of key areas can help you uncover air leaks and other inefficiencies.
If you decide to perform your own home energy assessment, make sure to check the following:
- The foundation, siding, and all exterior walls (particularly where two areas meet)
- The alignment, weatherstripping, and other seals of any doors to the outside
- Caulking and weatherstripping along windows
- The edges between floors, walls, and ceilings (as well as baseboards)
- The seal around electrical outlets, switch plate covers, light fixtures, and cables and wires entering the walls
- The seal around plumbing fixtures (particularly those on walls exposed to the outdoors)
- All components of heating and cooling appliances (such as the furnace, water heater, air conditioner, etc.), including connections, filters, etc.
- Light bulbs – LED lighting is much more efficient than incandescent bulbs and can save you money on electricity
- Electric appliances – appliances that are ENERGY STAR-certified are more efficient, so it is worth considering replacements for old and underperforming units
- Fireplace dampers (when the fireplace is not in use, the damper should be closed)
Inspecting your insulation is another key component of a home energy audit. However, homeowners who try to check insulation themselves can damage their walls, create a big mess, and even face the danger of electrocution if they are not careful around wall outlets. To get a proper understanding of your home insulation needs, it is best to hire a professional energy auditor.
Another advantage of a professional home energy audit is the ability to get a comprehensive understanding of the efficiency issues affecting your house. Homeowners who try the D.I.Y. approach often catch the small problems without considering the bigger causes of energy inefficiency, air leaks, etc.
Is a home energy audit worth it? The answer is a resounding “Yes” for homeowners who want to save on electricity, minimize their environmental impact, and improve the health and comfort of their abodes.
REenergizeCO is an Xcel Energy Registered Contractor and a qualified Energy Works service provider. If you choose us to perform your home energy audit, you will qualify for rebates through your local utility. We even handle the paperwork for you!
Science and data are our secrets to success. Our energy auditors apply proven scientific principles and use sophisticated technology to diagnose problems with your home energy performance. We have completed numerous energy assessments and helped many homeowners make smart, efficient upgrades.
Contact REenergizeCO in Denver or Fort Collins today to schedule your home energy audit! Our energy auditors serve homeowners throughout the Colorado Front Range.