About Home Energy Assessments

The importance of an Energy Assessment

When you start with a home energy assessment, learning how to make your home more comfortable and lowering utility costs is easy. Think of it like a check-up for your home that helps to identify problems and solutions. The MyHomeEQ tool provides recommendations for energy efficiency improvements for your home based on the averages of similar homes. Beyond using the MyHomeEQ tool, you can also conduct an energy assessment yourself or hire a professional. Which route you choose depends on your time, resources and level of enthusiasm.

 

Do-It-Yourself Home Energy Assessment

Conducting a home energy assessment yourself is easy, and a bit like detective work. You search for clues to find the culprits responsible for high bills and drafty rooms. This approach works well for identifying air leaks and insufficient insulation. If you’re on a budget and have time to spare, you can find and fix these types of problems yourself.

 

Hiring a Professional

Home Energy Assessors are trained and independent experts who can show you the most cost-effective ways to improve the efficiency of your home. Using sophisticated equipment, they measure how air-tight your home is, check the efficiency of your heating or cooling system and identify under-insulated areas. Using the data from their in-home visit and your historical gas and electric use, they will develop a comprehensive plan for improving your energy efficiency. The plan outlines the improvements that can be made, the cost of each improvement, and how much money it will save each year. If you’re looking for a comprehensive solution and are short on time, this is a good approach.

 

What to expect from a professional home energy assessment

1) Find the right contractor - When you call a professional, ensure that they’re certified by one of the accredited/certified programs: RESNET or HERS. Performing a thorough and accurate home energy assessment is not an easy task, so you’ll want someone who is qualified. Ask for references and call them to ensure the auditor has a strong track record.

2) Before the assessment  - The energy assessor may ask you to pull together your utility bills, this allows them to understand how much gas or electricity you use. You should also make a list of any problems that you have spotted – like window condensation or drafts.

3) The energy assessment - The assessor should inspect the outside of the house and every room inside. But remember that energy use is more than just the your home, your behavior is also important. So you should expect a lot of questions about when and how you use your heat or electricity. The assessor should use two vital pieces of hardware: a blower door and a thermographic camera. The blower door is like a makeshift exterior door that has an integrated fan and, as the name would imply, blows air through and out the doorway. This will show how drafty your house is, by measuring the total amount of air that comes in through the small leaks. It’s often used with the thermographic camera, which measures the temperature of different parts of rooms. Together, these tools identify areas that need more insulation or require air sealing.

4) The consultation - After the assessor is done measuring and testing, he will share the results and provide recommendations to make your home more energy efficient. Most likely, there will be several actions you can take. Some will cost more money and require a professional installation, but there will likely be other things that you can do yourself. It’s important to think about the “payback period” of each of the energy saving actions – the amount of time that it will take for each improvement to pay for itself. The shorter the payback period, the better bang-for-your-buck. Things like insulation and air sealing generally have a very good payback period, because they are generally affordable, but make a big difference in reducing energy costs. Other measures, like window replacement, may not pay for themselves as quickly, but could be a cosmetic improvement.

5) Making the improvements - Once you have decided on what energy efficiency improvements you would like to make, the assessor can usually provide recommendations of contractors for if it requires a professional.

6) Verify energy savings - After you have had the energy improvements made, keep track of your energy bills to ensure that the changes helped to reduce your energy costs.

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