Many people realize that one of the first things to do when looking to make your home more energy efficient is to get a home energy audit. A home energy audit performed by a qualified home energy professional will tell a homeowner how much energy his or her house is losing, where that energy is being lost, and what needs to be fixed in order to make the home more energy efficient. With an average cost of between $300 and $500, most homeowners will recoup their money on energy bills within a year. With energy prices on the rise and a national emphasis on conserving energy and money, getting an energy audit is one of the smartest things a homeowner can do to go green.
That said, not all home energy audits are the same, and to get the most value for your money you need to find the best home energy contractor you can to perform the audit. Here are five qualities that an energy auditor needs to have to earn your business:
1. He or she needs to be RESNET-HERs certified. This means that the auditor has taken an intensive course given by The Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) and has passed the test that will qualify him or her to rate a home on the Home Energy Rating System (HERs). If you are building a home, a RESNET-HERs rater can also verify that your home meets the standards of the EPA’s Energy Star program.
2. He or she is a BPI (Building Performance Institute) analyst. This is especially important if you have any combustible appliances or if your home is not a new home. BPI Analysts look at safety and air quality, among other things, and combustible appliances may create hazards if you weatherize and tighten your home based on an energy audit. A BPI analyst understands how a home’s systems work together.
3. He or she, at minimum, conducts a blower door test with the aid of an infrared camera as well as a duct blaster test. The blower door test indicates how airtight your home is, the infrared camera shows where leaks are occurring, and the duct blaster test shows any leaks in your HVAC system, which is one of the most common places homes lose energy.
4. He or she is willing to go into your attic and crawl space to find out exactly what is going on in those areas. It is not enough to do a blower door test and duct blaster test –a good energy auditor goes to the places where most homeowners are losing energy and does a real inspection.
5. And, as with all good contractors, a good home energy auditor is willing to answer questions, return phone calls, is prompt, and is polite and professional. Every energy audit should include a follow-up report that explains exactly where the problem areas are in your home.
To search for a certified home energy auditor, visit the Energy Star website, where you can look up professionals by state.