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A home energy audit, sometimes called a "home energy assessment," identifies how much energy a house consumes and provides suggestions for making it more efficient. An energy audit reveals common problems that drive up heating and cooling costs, including drafty doors, leaky windows, insufficient insulation and misconfigured ducts. Professional home energy auditors use specialized equipment including a blower door and a thermal camera to test for air leakage and locate problem areas. The average cost for an energy audit is $300–$700, depending on the size of the house and the extent of the services. Some audits may simply offer an analysis of utility bills, while more extensive audits will include an in-depth inspection of each room, the attic and the crawl space of a home.

Certification

According to Russell Lewis of Green Attics in Fort Worth, Texas, home energy auditing is a relatively new field with few regulations, so it’s important to find an auditor who is certified. Look for companies with technicians who have earned certifications from the Building Performance Institute (BPI) or Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET). These certifications prove that technicians understand building materials as well as principles of building science.

Tests

For a basic home energy audit, technicians should perform a variety of tests throughout the home, including checking the heating, cooling and water systems. They should inspect the home’s ductwork, insulation and ventilation as well as the seals around doors and windows. A comprehensive test should include a blower door test, which determines the building’s airtightness and infrared scans to discover hot and cold air leaks. Most audits take three to four hours to complete.

Rates

The cost of an audit varies by location and the auditor’s business model. For example, Green Attics offers audits starting at $399. This company focuses on making homes more energy efficient and offers additional services to help with that. In comparison, Apollo Energies, an independent energy consultant in Vacaville, California, starts pricing at $500. This company works with third-party contractors to address inefficiencies and help homeowners leverage rebates from local utility companies.

A home’s size also factors into the cost of the energy audit. For example, Green Attics changes an additional $100 for each 1,000 square feet over 2,500 square feet, capping the price at $699.

Add-on services

An energy audit is simply a report that details the inefficiencies found throughout a home and suggests ways to fix them. Some companies are solely building inspectors, while others offer additional services, such as weatherstripping one or two doors after completing the inspection. Other companies provide services to help resolve bigger issues found by the audit, such as duct sealing and insulation installation. Depending on the home, some auditors also can test for humidity, look for leaks in the slab and so on. Most of these additional services increase the overall cost of an audit.

Cost-saving strategies

Some local utility companies offer rebates to offset the cost of upgrading to more efficient, environmentally friendly heating, cooling and water systems. Rebates won’t decrease the cost of the audit, but they can make fixing problems more affordable.

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