A Complete Guide to 7 Renewable Energy Sources

What is an Energy Audit and Why Do I Need One?

Are you thinking about making your home healthier, more functional, and energy-efficient? Start by getting an energy audit (also known as a home energy assessment). 

An energy audit can help you determine how much energy your home uses, where you may be losing energy, and what projects you should prioritize when making your home more efficient. Depending on your knowledge level, you can either get a professional home energy audit done, or you can DIY it. 


Professional Energy Audit

By doing the professional route, you’re hiring an energy auditor to assess your home’s energy use. Make sure you’re prepared before they come to your home. You will need:

  • A list of any existing problems that you know about
  • A list of any home improvement projects done by you or the previous owner
  • Copies of or a summary of your home’s energy bills (preferably dating back at least 12 months)

Depending on the type of your house or condo, the auditor will likely start by examining the exterior of your home to determine its size and features. They may also ask you some of the following questions:

  • How old is the home?
  • How many people live there?
  • Is anyone home during working hours? 
  • What are your habitual schedules in general?
  • Is every room in use?
  • What do you set your thermostat to in summer? Winter?
  • Are you integrating smart technology (this helps regulate energy use)?

The auditor may ask you additional questions about your energy consumption while they use equipment such as infrared cameras, surface thermometers, and blower doors to detect places where you may be losing energy. 

The average cost of hiring an energy auditor is around $400. However, you’ll quickly recoup that money. The potential energy savings by reducing drafts in your home alone can range from 5%-30% per year

If you want to go the professional route, the RESNET Home Energy Rating Index can help you find a certified professional in your area. 


DIY Energy Audit

You probably won’t discover everything that a professional energy auditor will, but taking the DIY approach will help you identify areas that need improvement. Do a thorough walk-through of your home and write down any problems you may find. 

Detect air leaks both inside and outside of your home. Outside, these are commonly found anywhere two different building materials converge, including where siding and chimneys meet, outdoor water faucets, and all exterior corners. Inside, check for any cracks or gaps, including:

  • Electrical and gas service entrances
  • Electrical outlets
  • Switchplates
  • Attic hatches
  • Cable TV and phone lines
  • Baseboards
  • And more 

Inspect your heating and cooling equipment. If your HVAC systems are more than 15 years old, you should consider replacing them since recent models are more energy-efficient. Check your lighting to see what types of bulbs you’re using, inspect your appliances and electronics, your insulation, and your ventilation as well. 

To fully understand how to conduct a comprehensive energy audit, there are plenty of YouTube videos available – including this one. However, when it comes to hiring a professional energy auditor or taking the DIY approach, a professional will discover more than you can, and save you more time and money in the process.

About Paul Kocharhook

Paul Kocharhook, Certified Aging in Place Specialist, (CAPS), MCGP and Owner of Pathway Design & Construction, based in SODO Seattle. Download your Remodel Reality Check quick sheet and walk through the main points in a remodel project.