Professional energy assessments generally go into great detail to assess your home's energy use. The energy auditor will do a room-by-room examination of the residence, as well as a thorough examination of past utility bills. Many professional energy assessments will include a blower door test. Most will also include a thermographic scan. There's also another type of test -- the PFT air infiltration measurement technique -- but it is rarely offered. Check out the Energy Saver 101 home energy audit infographic to get an idea of what energy auditors look for and the special tools they use to determine where a home is wasting energy.
Preparing for an Energy Assessment
Before the energy auditor visits your house, make a list of any existing problems such as condensation and uncomfortable or drafty rooms. Have copies or a summary of the home's yearly energy bills. (Your utility can get these for you.) Auditors use this information to establish what to look for during the audit. The auditor first examines the outside of the home to determine the size of the house and its features (i.e., wall area, number and size of windows). The auditor then will analyze the residents' behavior:
- Is anyone home during working hours?
- What is the average thermostat setting for summer and winter?
- How many people live here?
- Is every room in use?
Your answers may help uncover some simple ways to reduce your household's energy consumption. Walk through your home with the auditors as they work, and ask questions. They may use equipment to detect sources of energy loss, such as blower doors, infrared cameras, furnace efficiency meters, and surface thermometers.
Finding and Selecting an Energy Auditor
There are several places where you can locate professional energy assessment or auditing services.
- Your state or local government energy or weatherization office may help you identify a local company or organization that performs audits.
- Your electric or gas utility may conduct residential energy assessments or recommend local auditors.
- Your telephone directory under headings beginning with the word "Energy" may list companies that perform residential energy assessments.
- The Residential Energy Services Network provides a directory of certified energy raters and auditors near you.
Before contracting with an energy auditing company, you should take the following steps:
- Get several references, and contact them all. Ask if they were satisfied with the work.
- Call the Better Business Bureau and ask about any complaints against the company.
- Make sure the energy auditor uses a calibrated blower door.
- Make sure they do thermographic inspections or contract another company to conduct one.