With extremes of weather and inflation’s it to your budget–not least the rapidly rising cost of energy–you may want to reduce your utility bills. To maximize savings and increase your comfort, an energy audit—a.k.a., a whole-house assessment–and home retrofit may be in order.
Think of an energy audit as a physical for your home. Are you suffering any of these common symptoms? One room is always too cold or hot. In summer, your second story feels hotter and more humid than the rest of the house or, although your air conditioning runs all the time, you’re still uncomfortable. In winter, you suffer with drafts. Your house quickly gets dusty. Dank smells rise from the basement or crawl space or smoke from wildfires creeps inside. You suffer from frequent sinus or respiratory problems. You’ve compared your energy costs with your neighbor’s and yours are much higher for apparently similar homes.
A whole-house assessment recognizes that each of the components or systems in your home—the exterior shell, insulation, heating and cooling systems, ductwork, and ventilation– work together and recommends fixes to optimize efficiency and comfort. Most homes have inefficiencies; correct them and you can cut your energy usage and bills by as much as 25%, says Home Performance With Energy Star, a national program administered by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. “If you reduce energy cost, you can increase comfort, and vice versa,” says Jonathan Waterworth, a certified energy auditor in Phoenix, Ariz. He says some of his clients cut their energy use by 30%.
An energy audit and recommended improvements have other benefits: You can maximize the life of your current heating-and-cooling system, and when those components ultimately fail, you’ll be ready to replace them with higher-efficiency electric ones, such as a super-efficient heat pump. You’ll reduce your personal carbon footprint. If you’re thinking about going solar, reducing your home’s energy demand first will allow you to install a smaller, less expensive system. When you sell your home, proven energy efficiency will appeal to buyers, and they may be willing to pay a premium.