Also known as energy assessments, energy audits are important if you want to understand the energy requirements or problems within your home. Basically, energy audits help in identifying where your home is losing energy, the systems within your home that are working inefficiently, and the cost effective measures you can put in place to rectify the energy problems. Depending on the type of audit, energy audits can cost anywhere between $300 and $800.
Types of Energy Audits
There are two main types of audits homeowners can choose; home energy survey and general energy audit.
Home Energy Survey
A home energy survey refers to a visual inspection which doesn’t include the use of testing equipment. The main purpose of a home energy survey is to assess the general energy performance of your home with a focus on areas such as the building envelops features (insulation, ducts, doors and windows); HVAC equipment types, age and characteristics; appliance and lighting characteristics; visible moisture issues; comfort complaints, and visible health and safety issues.
Normally, a home energy survey professional will request a review of your utility use and the billing history in order to determine and understand the potential opportunities for savings. At the tail end of the assessment, the homeowner will receive a report of the entire assessment including the recommendations put forward to enhance the energy efficiency of the home as well as a narration of low costs DIY tasks. The information also includes relevant utility-based programs aimed at encouraging the homeowner to take action. Usually, a home energy survey takes about an hour to complete.
General Energy Audit
This is alternatively referred to as an energy assessment, detailed energy audit or standard energy audit. It builds and expands on the home energy survey by collecting detailed information regarding energy usage within the home as well as conducting a financial analysis of the energy costs. A typical general energy audit also comprises diagnostic testing through specialized equipment such as duct leakage tester, blow door test, infrared camera and combustion analyzer. These tests are carried out to determine the location and number of air leaks within the building, the degree of leakage from HVAC distribution ducts, the effectiveness of the insulation inside the ceilings and walls as well as any existing combustion safety issues.
A home energy auditor will conduct an evaluation of the whole house including computer software analysis in order to identify and prioritize recommended treatments for improvement. After the audit, the auditor will then compile a detailed report providing specifications and recommendations based on the findings. A general energy audit can take from 3 to 4 hours depending on how expansive your home is.
It is important to differentiate between an energy audit and energy rating. The basic difference is that energy rating measures the energy performance of your home as compared to similar homes while an energy audit shows you where and how your home is losing energy. An energy rating will give you the HERS Index Score which stand for Home Energy Rating System. This gives homeowners and prospective buyers a rough idea of how much it would cost them to run your home.