Energy auditors often complain about homeowners: “We go back to the same buildings, and make the same recommendations that are never implemented”.
Our building codes establish minimum standards for energy consumption. But for many years they were too poor, and many aren't strict enough. Building codes have failed - and are still failing - to provide guidance on building for comfort and efficiency.
And the end result is well known: millions of homes with very high levels of energy consumption.
In America, for instance, the average homeowner spends about $2.200 a year in electricity and gas, which is a huge amount. You can cut your energy bills by 50% to 80% through design and energy improvements in new homes. And often by 30% or more in existing buildings.
And that’s where energy audits and home energy improvements enter...
Do you know how much you spend on heating and cooling? Or how much your old refrigerator and your kitchen appliances cost you in electricity? Or what is the electrical cost of the dozens of electronics in your home (TVs, PCs, toasters, and so on)? Probably not.
But you can have a pretty good idea of it by analyzing your energy bills, and by using an inexpensive power monitor. Or by hiring an energy auditor. An energy audit can identify the factors that contribute to the waste of energy in a home.
Energy auditors use special equipment to detect air leaks and low levels of insulation in the walls, attic and floors.
An energy auditor will also carry out a comprehensive assessment of your energy equipment systems; he will assess your heating and cooling equipment, and your ductwork, and water heating system; and the impact of your windows and doors, electronics, refrigerators, dishwasher and other appliances on your bills...
And they will provide a written report with recommendations and the costs of the energy improvements.
You can carry out a simple energy assessment yourself. It depends on your information and commitment.
There are simple tests to detect air leaks and insulation flaws, and a careful and diligent inspection of ducts or appliances can tell you a lot. And you can also use an inexpensive power monitor to detect hidden electricity wasters, and some online tools.
A comprehensive energy audit for a single-family home with, say, 1.500 square foot can cost $200-$400. But there are discounted energhy audits, and also free energy audits for people with low income, offered by some utilities and organizations.
Prospective buyers should ask for a formal home energy audit, besides a possible standard inspection.
An energy audit is more than just to know what's behind the walls. That’s also a way of safeguarding your interests during negotiations with sellers and realtors.
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Our video on Energy Auditing: