Home Energy Audit 101: What It Is and How You Can Benefit

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Making an assessment of your energy needs and uses is a valuable way to both save money and stay true to sustainable values.

If someone were to conduct a home performance test on your house, what grade would you receive? By scheduling a home energy audit, you can find out how energy-efficient your home is, learn how your house wastes energy, and discover solutions for improving its performance. When a professional energy auditor inspects your home, he or she will look for air leaks and determine the efficiency of your ductwork, furnace, and insulation.

Benefits of a Home Energy Audit

Learn about your home’s energy use. Home performance inspectors will go through your house room by room, examine your home's exterior, and conduct specific tests (like a blower door test and thermal camera scan) to see where energy escapes.

Learn how you can change your behavior to save energy. The home energy auditor will learn more about your energy-use habits and examine your power bills to uncover ways you can save money and operate your home's heating and cooling and other systems more efficiently. By following the home energy auditor’s recommendations to make your home more efficient, you will make your house will feel more comfortable and use less power. Many people have a home energy audit before the winter, but you can schedule a home performance test at any time of the year.

Learn whether you qualify for home solar power systems. Not all homes are good candidates for residential solar power systems, and a home energy auditor can give you more information about the suitability of your house for fitting with solar panels, answer your questions about solar power, and tell you more about the installation process.

If you’re interested in arranging a home energy audit, contact your power company or community weatherization office for referrals. Alternatively, check out the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) for a list of certified energy auditors in your area. If you’re interested in home solar power systems, look for an auditor who has firsthand knowledge about them.

The Sun and Improving Home Performance

If your home is a good candidate for a solar system, you can see a return on your home energy investment in as little as four years. The simplest way to determine whether solar power is right for you is by looking at the age of your roof. If the current roof has 10 or more years of life remaining, your home may qualify. Other factors include your budget, the size and condition of your roof, the materials used to construct it, the capacity of your electrical system, and whether your roof has shady areas. If your roof isn’t a good candidate for a home solar power system, a ground-mounted system may provide a good alternative.

The number of solar panels you’ll need will depend on the construction of your roof, the amount of unobstructed roof space, and your energy use. The good news about solar energy is that you can still take full advantage of it even if you live in a place that isn’t sunny all year round. As long as there’s daylight, the panels will collect energy.

A home energy audit will give you insight into how your house really works and where your energy goes. The information you uncover may reveal simple ways to make your home more efficient – and keep money in your wallet.

Jonathan Cohen is the Founder and Principal at Imagine Energy, an energy consulting and contracting firm based in Portland, Oregon, that provides complete energy solutions with in-house HVAC, solar, insulation, plumbing, and electrical services.

Website: www.imagineenergy.net
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