Residence Vitality Audits: Well worth the Price?

Leaky windows and doors not only make your home drafty, they also increase your monthly electricity bill. Many leaks are easy to spot, but the ones that aren’t visible can consume heating and cooling out of your house and dollars out of your wallet.

A professional energy audit determines the weak points of a house for around $ 300 to $ 500. Experts say that deciding whether or not an audit makes financial sense depends on your energy awareness and how much you can afford a diagnosis.

“Homeowners can search for infiltrations on windows, doors and electrical outlets and purchase kits to fill those areas,” said Brian Castelli, executive vice president of programs and development for Alliance to Save Energy, a nonprofit focused on energy conservation. “But some things you will not be able to see without tools.”

With energy prices soaring, homeowners are looking for ways to save money on their utility bills. Many homeowners take action on their own such as sealing windows, adding insulation, and filling in any leaky gaps. However, energy audits can identify energy leaks that are not as obvious or easy to find. Energy auditing companies claim that detecting and fixing these hidden leaks can save the homeowner not only up to 30% of their annual heating and cooling bills, but also the potential cost of fixing problems that don’t solve the problem.

“Energy audits remove the guesswork,” says Mark Cannella, founder of energy auditing company Pro Energy. “Many customers have tried to make their homes more energy efficient by spending money on new windows, heating and air conditioning, but that doesn’t solve the problem.” According to Cannella, many of his customers are homeowners who have already spent $ 15,000 on new windows or $ 10,000 on heaters without fixing their problem. He compares an energy audit at home to a diagnosis before a car is repaired: you wouldn’t buy the parts first.

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Buyer beware

Not all home energy auditors are created alike. Energy Star recommends ensuring that an auditor performs specific tasks and uses approved tools, including a fan door, infrared camera, and duct fan, during the audit. A blower door is a fan that mounts in the door frame that pressurizes and depressurizes a house to measure the amount of air leakage. A duct fan works similarly to a fan door, but is attached to the duct system. An infrared camera shows surface heat variations and is used to detect heat loss and air leaks in walls. Find Energy Star’s list of approved energy auditors and contractors here.

What to expect from an energy audit at home

According to Cannella, a home energy audit can take two to four hours, depending on the size of the house. Pro Energy conducts an interview with the homeowner prior to the audit to find out the history of the home and any issues or problem areas. After completion of the audit, the homeowner receives a detailed report in which the paths or leaks in the house are listed as well as recommendations on what should be fixed in which order. The homeowner has the option to let Pro Energy fix the problems, use another contractor, fix them themselves, or ignore the problems.

The Department of Energy recommends making a list of any issues prior to an audit and collecting copies or a summary of the house’s annual energy bill to help auditors determine what to look for during their inspection.

“When you have a professional, you want to make sure they do at least one blower door test and some infrared,” says Castelli. “These two tools determine where leaks and infiltration are occurring. You will identify all of the things that need to be done. “

Cannella suggests getting at least one reference and ensuring that he or she is certified and is using the correct equipment before hiring an energy auditor. A quick check with the Better Business Bureau will determine if a company has a good reputation. He also warns customers to be wary of companies that offer low-cost energy auditors. “Window companies have been trying to get into the energy auditing business and I keep telling people,” If it’s a window company what do you think the first thing they have to tell you is? “

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