Ask Adam: House Power Audits

This regularly sponsored Q&A column was written by Adam Gallegos of Arlington-based real estate company Arbor Realty. Please send further questions in the comments section or by email.

Q: I own an older home in Arlington with pretty high utility bills (in my opinion). Do you think a home energy audit is a good investment?

I think you will find a good home energy audit that is well worth the investment. Personally, I own a home in Arlington that is about 6 years old and an energy audit discovered a valuable list of improvements for us. I’m happy to report that most of them were reached for little to no money.

Our energy audit cost us $ 400, but it saved us many times more money on gas and electricity. In fact, I wrote an article earlier this year about how Dominion Power accidentally switched our account with my neighbor who owns the exact same house. After the administrative chaos was cleared up, we were credited with nearly $ 1200 for lowering our home’s energy consumption.

I spoke to Chris Conway, one of the leading household energy auditors in the region. He confirmed that most of the improvements are very cost effective, resulting in savings of 5 to 30% in energy costs.

Chris explains that his audits usually include a blower door test and a thermographic scan of the house. However, the most important benefit of a home energy audit is the homeowner’s training. It shows you how to achieve a tight building envelope for a long-term return on investment. According to the Department of Energy, 54% of your total energy costs come from heating and cooling. With the right information, you can make decisions that will bring the most value for your money.

While I would recommend a home energy audit for most homes regardless of age, older homes tend to have the greatest need for improvement. A blower door test shows exactly how much conditioned air is leaking into your house per hour. In older homes this is sometimes equivalent to opening a window or door 24 hours a day.

Chris recommends an energy audit for anyone interested in doing home improvement, improving air quality, saving money on energy bills, increasing comfort, reducing humidity issues, or reducing your carbon footprint. During our conversation, he mentioned a baffling fact that the latest EPA data shows that one in five families has a member with breathing problems and a typical home can actually have up to three to four times more contamination inside than outside. A simple home energy audit can address these types of environmental issues.

There are more than a few energy auditors to choose from in the Arlington area. I spoke to at least half a dozen before choosing someone for my own home. I was curious about their background, education, track record, equipment, references, and philosophy. I also wanted to feel like they were spending time educating me about my home. Contact me for a list of local household energy auditors I recommend.

The cost of a professional home energy audit can range from $ 150 to $ 600, depending on the depth of the audit and the size of your home. If you’re worried about costs, you can keep an eye out for promotions from companies like Everblue and Dominion Power. From time to time there have also been government funded programs.

My final piece of advice is to make a list of all the problems you are having, such as: B. Rooms that are notoriously drafty, cold, warm or damp. These insights help the auditor find the best solutions for your home.

The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of

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