Does Your Home Need an Energy Audit?

It’s a lot easier to save energy if you know where you’re wasting it. An energy audit can help you figure that out

If you’re looking for a simple (and often free) way to save money on home energy costs, then you should have an energy audit done on your house. It’s a great way to determine whether you’re wasting energy that you can’t afford.

Let’s face it: in this odd era, when technology is advancing by leaps and bounds and weather patterns are changing rapidly, most of us are pumping more energy than ever into our households. So ask yourself: Is it going to good use… or not?

Getting Started

If your electric bills are through the roof even though you’ve made sincere efforts to save energy with things like EnergyStar appliances, low-power light bulbs, tankless water heaters, and the like, then something is using energy in unexpected ways, or it’s escaping from the system somewhere.

It’s in the best interests of everyone involved to find out what’s happening, so your first step should be to contact your electric company to ask if they’re willing to conduct an energy audit. Many will happily do so — and for free, believe it or not.

No Way!

Many people think the power company doesn’t really care about consumption, that they’ll just send you a bigger bill if your usage is high. But your money isn’t their only motivation. They’d rather have that otherwise-wasted energy available for high peak periods, so they can avoid outages that would really cost them.

If your electric company doesn’t do audits, they’ll point you toward an independent contractor who does. An independent audit might cost up to $500, but it can easily save you that much in a year by helping you cut energy wastage.

Finally, you may be able to get a free audit via your state energy office, assuming your state has one.

What to Expect

Your electric company will probably begin their audit by having you do an online or phone-assisted audit, where they ask a series of questions about the most obvious energy wasters, such as old appliances, lights and computers left on all the time, poor weather-stripping, etc.

An in-home audit will basically involve a close inspection of everything from your furnace to the insulation, door frames and window panes. The auditor may even take infrared photos, especially in the winter, to show where energy is escaping. (Such imaging tends to be quite expensive.)

Ideally, the auditor will then point out where and how you’re wasting energy, and suggest cost-effective solutions to cut back on energy loss. Your power company may even offer monetary incentives to implement these suggestions.

Whoever does it, your home energy audit may ultimately save you hundreds of dollars annually — so if you haven’t already, get one done soon.