Home energy assessments are conducted by professionals that have industry accepted credentials. Professional energy assessments generally go into great detail to assess your home's energy use. The energy assessor 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 and a thermographic scan. Assessors may use equipment to detect sources of energy loss, such as blower doors, infrared cameras, furnace efficiency meters, and surface thermometers. Check out the Energy Saver 101 home energy audit infographic to get an idea of what energy assessors look for and to learn more about the special tools they use to conduct an assessment.
Through the process, the home assessor will gathering information and produce a report including characterizations of your home and action you can take to reduce your home's energy use while increasing comfort of the living space. Common recommendations often include:
- Conduct whole-home air sealing to reduce air leakage and drafts
- Add insulations to your home's attic, foundation, or walls to prevent heat loss.
- Seal and insulate ducts in unconditioned spaces.
- Remove or repair any parts of the home with internal moisture or mold to improve air quality and reduce deterioration.
- Improve the efficiency of heating, cooling and hot water equipment.
- Install home ventilation, smart thermostats, LEDs, smart power strips, ENERGY STAR appliances, solar PV, an electric vehicle charger, and other efficient technologies that improve home performance.
The right mix of improvements to your home will depend on the age and quality of current equipment, the local climate, and your home energy goals. The first step to determining the appropriate combination and size of equipment for your home is getting a professional assessment.
Preparing for an Energy Assessment
Before the energy assessor 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 may be able to provide these to you or you may be able to get them online.) Assessors use this information to establish what to look for during the audit. The assessor will also talk with you to better understand your needs and interests in having an assessment. The assessor will examine 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 assessor then will analyze how you use your home:
- Is anyone home during working hours?
- What is the average thermostat setting for summer and winter?
- How many people live in the home?
- 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 assessor and ask questions.
Finding and Selecting an Energy Assessor
There are several places where you can locate professional energy assessment services.
- Your state or local government energy or weatherization office may help you identify a local company or organization that performs audits.
- Your energy utility may conduct residential energy assessments or recommend local auditors.
- The Residential Energy Services Network provides a directory of certified professional energy assessors near you.
- Check out the U.S. Department of Energy's Home Energy Score program and Home Performance with Energy Star programs to see if energy assessors associated with those programs are near you.
Before contracting with an energy assessment 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.
- Ask what tools they use in their assessments and whether they offer a U.S. Department of Energy Home Energy Score report as part of their assessment.