Why is an Energy Audit Important?

Kaley Belakovich
Written by Kaley Belakovich
Updated October 3, 2014
infrared camera
Experts use infrared cameras and blower door tests to check a home's energy efficiency. (Photo by Mark Wilson)

Here's what problems energy efficiency audits reveal and the costs associated with getting one.

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Does your utility bill seem unusually high? Do you feel as though your HVAC system constantly runs, but never quite hits the temperature at which it’s set?

It may be time for an energy audit.

Here to explain the importance of energy assessments are three highly rated experts:

• Larry Chretien, executive director of Mass Energy Consumers Alliance in Boston, Massachusetts

• Scott Osborne, owner of Arbor Insulation Solutions in Roswell, Georgia

• Dan Martens, owner of Twin Cities Energy Solutions in St. Paul, Minnesota.

What kinds of problems can energy audits uncover?

Chretien: We really believe that every house is different. If the house is more than a few years old, chances are that the auditor will be able to identify something particular to that house that can help reduce energy costs.

Sometimes, energy audits uncover mild or severe threats to health and safety. For example, a bathroom missing a vent can cause mold and mildew to build up.

Osborne: The biggest problem is inadequate insulation in the attic. We use door-to-door tests, which measures the number of leaks in a home.

We also look at your air ducts and measure the amount of leakage there. Depending on the age of the house, air ducts are right up there with attics. If your ductwork is in the attic, and your air ducts leak about 25 to 30 percent, that air is going outside.

When is the best time of year to receive a home energy audit?

Martens: An energy audit can be done at any time, but it is recommended that it is done with at least an 8- to 10-degree temperature difference between the inside of your home and the outside.

In using an infrared camera that reads temperature differences, you would need to see either colder or warmer temps than the inside temps. Normally, I try to avoid energy audits when the temperature is between 65 and 75 degrees outside.

Chretien: Any time of year is good. In the Northeast, we encourage people to get an assessment in the summer to allow time to act on the audit’s recommendations.

In the fall, demand for auditors outstrips the supply, so a backlog can develop.

What can homeowners expect to pay for an energy audit?

Osborne: Most of my competitors in the area charge about $350.

Martens: The cost of an energy audit varies depending on whom you are trying to contract with, what you are trying to determine, how large your home is and when you want an audit performed.

Most people know that nothing is free, and if you want a quality energy audit, there is a cost associated with that. Most full house audits fall between about $250 to $650.

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