What is an energy audit?
The rising cost of energy, combined with governmental energy programs and a societal shift towards ‘green’, have led to the growing popularity of energy audits. Because the industry as a whole is fairly new, there is no “standard” energy audit – which means you can get vastly different types of service from different companies. Here’s a description of the different types of energy audits you’re likely to run across:
Free Energy Audits. Free energy audits are commonly offered by a local utility company, or through a local energy program funded by the government. These are usually ‘walk through’ energy audits that offer standard, general recommendations for energy improvement, typically aimed at lowering energy bills. They usually will not conduct any testing, use a blower door, or perform infrared scans. If excessively high energy bills are your problem, this can be a good, basic place to start. Sometimes, various contractors will also offer a ‘free energy audit.’ You must pursue these with caution, as their obvious motivation is to sell/install their product.
$99 Whole House Energy Audits. You will see some energy audit companies offer very cheap energy audits. If you read the fine print, you often find they are a network of HVAC, window, insulation, etc. contractors. They basically use the energy audit to ‘get in the door’ and obviously don’t make any money unless they sell you something else. The scope of their energy audit can range from a very basic ‘walk through’ to a full blown assessment, but just keep in mind that their objectivity may be questionable.
Professional Energy Audits. Professional energy audits, like those conducted by Pro Energy Consultants, are provided by highly trained professionals and are consultative, versus ‘checklist,’ in nature. They will combine an understanding of building performance, the whole system approach, blower door testing and infrared technology to provide a diagnostic assessment of the home or building. You’ll receive a written and pictorial summary of findings that includes prioritized recommendations for solving the specific problems you are experiencing (high energy bills, rooms too hot or cold, etc.).
Energy Audit Rebates. Some local energy programs offer you a rebate towards the cost of your energy audit, sometimes offering as much as $250 of the total cost. These programs are great because they use only professionally trained energy auditors that offer an in-depth energy assessment and meet certain certification criteria. To learn more about energy audit rebates in your area, visit the Department of Energy website and enter your zip code for localized information.