What is a Home Energy Audit?

The Importance of Learning How Your Home Uses - and Possibly Wastes - Energy

Vista Energy believes that both energy efficiency and energy conservation are important - especially when used in tandem. By using less energy in conjunction with energy-efficient appliances and strategies, you can actively lower your monthly energy bills. But to really take these efforts to the next level, you should invest in a home energy audit.

This might seem like an extra product offered by your energy provider or a local HVAC company that you don’t really need. But it couldn’t be further from the truth. A home energy audit can discover how your home uses energy, where it wastes energy, and provides insights into how you can correct those errors to save on future energy bills.

The Home Energy Audit Basics

The largest percentage of your home’s energy use comes from heating and cooling your home, so assessing the effectiveness of the air flow is most important.

There are two basic types of home energy audit: Do-It-Yourself (DIY) and Professional. Both have value, and for the experienced homeowner, conducting the former can easily lead to investing in the latter.

  • A DIY home energy audit typically employs manual tests using your five senses to investigate principal locations in your home that could be considered drafty.
  • With a Professional home energy audit, a dedicated expert uses tools like a blower door, infrared camera, moisture meters, and more to identify exactly where and how energy loss occurs throughout your home.

In both cases, an audit discovers how, when, and where air escapes your home via the doors, windows, walls, hatches, and exterior ventilation. However, it does not and will not check the electrical systems or natural gas lines in your home. For that, you will need to employ a professional electrician.

Assessing When You Need a Home Energy Audit

We recommend investing in a quality home energy audit if your home is more than 30 years old and has never been audited before. Simply put, the effectiveness of energy efficiency measures, tools, and materials have dramatically increased over the past decade, so an older house is a good candidate for an audit.

We also suggest conducting an audit in either the spring or fall of a given year. This gives you time to conduct upgrades to your home before the heat of summer or cold of winter arrive. It can also help you save money, because whether you do the repairs yourself or pay someone else to do them, the price of materials and labor increase as the seasonal temperatures approach their respective extremes.

Furthermore, we advise that you do not ignore the audit in favor of simply purchasing energy-efficient supplies and upgrades. If your home uses energy poorly because of insufficient insulation or drafts, those nifty materials you bought won’t actually do anything for your home.

Assessing Your Home Energy Audit Needs

The type of audit you choose can depend upon how comfortable you are with doing home improvement chores in general. A DIY audit requires a heightened level of awareness with your home and attention to detail if you’re going to receive any benefit from your investigation. If you’re an experienced DIY aficionado, you can even rent gear from a local improvement store to conduct the audit, but this also assumes that you know how to use the gear and maximize its effectiveness.

If you opt for the Professional audit, we encourage you to speak with friends and homeowners in your area for recommendations on worthy local experts. If you’re going to invest the money in an audit (and the recommended repairs), you want the audit to be comprehensive and deliver insights on how you can improve the energy efficiency of your home.

Moreover, you need to decide in advance how you will make the recommended repairs that address any energy inefficiencies the audit discovers. The audit itself doesn’t fix anything – it’s merely a guide for how you can improve the energy efficiency of your home.

The Value of a Home Energy Audit

To be honest, we can’t give you hard, aggregate numbers on how much a home energy audit can save. Why? Because each situation is specific to the context of an individual homeowner: to the errors in the home, to the amount of money spent to fix the errors, to the previous levels of energy usage, and more. Sure, it’s easy to find articles about how much an audit could save, but those numbers always reflect each author’s personal story.

Anecdotal evidence does reveal how a home energy audit has saved many people a great deal of money. For an initial investment typically ranging from $300 to $800 for the audit itself (not counting repair costs), many consumers report instant savings once the energy efficiency errors in the audit are addressed. This can include increased insulation, repaired weatherstripping for doors, fresh caulk around windows, and more.

Vista Energy believes that a home energy audit is well worth the time, energy, and money. Learning how your home uses and wastes energy is crucial to understanding and eventually lowering your home energy bills. Because unless you turn off and unplug everything in your home completely, an energy inefficient house will eventually cost you more money in the long run than that home energy audit will as a one-time cost.

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