by Robert Kociecki of Owners.com
When was the last time you had a home energy assessment? Even if you don’t give your monthly energy bills a second glance, it’s still a good idea to make energy audits a part of your spring cleaning.
Depending on region and lifestyle, U.S. homeowners spend an average of between $220 to $380 a month on energy. Hiring a professional to assess your home will help prevent expenses from creeping past the local average.
But what makes hiring an expert better than taking a DIY approach to home energy inspections?
1. Thermographic Scans
Professional energy auditors have the technology and know-how to pinpoint exactly where the problem areas in your home are. Energy efficiency issues aren’t always obvious. A thermographic scan conducted by an energy expert will create a heat map of your home, revealing where the home is under- or over-insulated so you can make improvements accordingly. Likewise, it will show where there’s air insulation requiring weatherstripping or window sealant.
2. Air Infiltration Tests
While you might notice a drafty doorway on your own, an energy professional will run diagnostics to check just how airtight your home really is. One tool auditors use to gauge whether your home is properly sealed is a blower door test. By mounting a powerful fan in your doorway to lower interior air pressure, the energy professional can measure the rate at which wind infiltrates your home.
Having the blower door test performed is advantageous for more reasons than just stopping an air leak in its tracks. It can also prevent moisture condensation issues from occurring, which can lead to mold growth.
3. PFT Technique
Believe it or not, it’s possible for a home to be over-insulated. An energy expert can conduct a PFT Air Infiltration Test to measure the airflow in your house. The auditor will use an emitter to release a series of non-toxic gases in the space. At the same time, a second emitter will track the concentration of the gases over the testing period.
If the energy professional finds the home unable to “breathe,” your house could be at risk of trapping dangerously high concentrations of gases inside your home, such as radon.
4. Energy Upgrades and Rebates
Several states offer rebates for upgrading to more energy-efficient appliances. An auditor will help you decide what devices to replace (and when to replace them) based on adding the most value to your home. To put this in perspective, qualifying California residents can currently take advantage of up to $5,500 in energy-saving rebates.
If you’re planning to renovate or upgrade parts of your home, enlist the expertise of an energy professional to save additional money.
5. Insight from Experience
While home energy auditors charge an average of $388, paying the initial cost could lead to a lifetime of savings. The average American household can reduce their home energy bills by up to 30% if they follow the advice of an expert. Energy audits provide homeowners with a detailed report of where their home uses the most energy and how. The money-saving answer can sometimes be as simple as investing in curtains or cleaning your HVAC system’s condenser coils.
6. Help to Prioritize and Budget
Are you constantly freezing or overheating at home? You probably have issues with energy efficiency. When 43% of your utility bill goes to heating and cooling, you shouldn’t need a spare blanket (or portable fans) in every room. An energy expert will help you figure out how to make your place feel cozy and comfortable, regardless of the season. After the audit, the energy professional will work with you to create an efficiency roadmap that fits your budget, while addressing your main concerns.
When it comes to saving you money while protecting your home from toxins, home energy auditors are worth their salt. Spring for an inspector over the DIY approach before summer starts and you’ll be in a great position to tackle efficiency issues before hot weather makes some jobs—like insulating an attic—too unpleasant. At the end of the day, these assessments can help your house become a place where you truly feel at home.
As a real estate industry expert, author Robert Kociecki writes to educate homeowners on the importance of keeping up with home maintenance. He also works as the Senior VP of Property Management and Renovation at Altisource. Altisource and its affiliates provide real estate services for consumers and investors. Visit Owners.com, where home buying and selling are made simple.