Home Energy Audits: What are They?

Today, the cost of heating or cooling a home is racking up thousands of dollars in costs. This isn’t a surprise to homeowners, and it’s becoming a highlighted issued how much value transfer is moving to utilities companies across the U.S. While everyone points to education of homeowners as a solution, and books and books of content online now about how to save energy, the fact is home temperature control and energy efficiency still remains technical for many.

A Home Energy Audit

The first step in understanding where a current home is with regards to heating and cooling efficiency comes with a home energy audit. Given the fact that the typical range of utility costs is now in the range of $2,000 to $4,000 annually, depending on their performance, home energy efficiency systems are definitely worth looking at. And, the older a home is, the more it matters.

What is a home energy audit? Generally, it involves a full, objective analysis of how a home consumes energy and how its heating and cooling system provides performance in comparison. The audit looks at all the systems as well as everything in the home that is supposed to be assisting, such as the windows, insulation, duct system, venting, materials used for construction and the local climate. Combined, the information provides a full assessment in detail of how well or not the home is performing as a design as well as where improvement is needed. The findings can then be used to make targeted improvements that provide the most significant differences and change.

An audit can also provide a comparative forward analysis of what could happen with system changes. So, for example, the audit may compare the current standard HVAC system with a heat pump system alternative and what differences in performance could be expected.

The Review of an Audit

The home audit is not done from a distance or online. Instead, a reviewer visits and examines the home in person to verify all aspects of the home’s systems. Measurements are taken both on the home’s systems’ performance as well as the condition of the home’s protection materials as they are at that time, not specifications from manufacturers of what to expect when things were new. The audit, depending on how large the home is, can range anywhere from one to four hours for a full analysis to be completed. Some of the delay is mainly with physical access to the areas that need to be measured accurately. The examination even includes review of the outside of the home, including the wall conditions, seals around the windows, the condition of the roof and eaves, and any identified concerns that would affect the home’s protection.

Recommendations One Can Expect

Certain options and recommendations these days are included in all energy audits. That includes changing out lighting to energy-efficient bulbs, using a smart thermostat versus automated or manually controlled ones, applying weather stripping, using plug socket blockers and more. These kinds of recommendations can easily be addressed by a homeowner and can produce mild adjustments to the costs of energy consumption with little effort.

Again, more significant recommendations will depend on the specific condition of the home itself. Whether options like a heat pump or other changes are recommended or not depends on how the home is actually performing at the time of the audit and the systems it has. For example, where a homeowner has already invested in a system that is well above the minimum requirements for that structure, a change out may not make much sense. Instead, environment control and insulation are better choices.

Start With Good Information

Before making any big changes or considering an HVAC system change, first apply a home energy audit to know where you stand. It could mean a difference in thousands of dollars. System efficiency is definitely a goal to go after in home temperature control, but focus on targeted changes that provide the biggest benefit first.