In today's world of high electricity, natural gas, and fuel oil costs, understanding your home's energy consumption is more important than ever for both comfort and cost-effectiveness. During a home inspection, aspects of energy efficiency are often discussed, highlighting ways to reduce utility bills. However, for a more detailed analysis, an energy audit is often recommended. Unlike a home inspection's visual assessment, an energy audit measures a home’s efficiency, identifies areas for improvement, and estimates potential savings.

Homeowners can take a couple simple steps to reduce energy costs-

  • Sealing gaps where exterior siding, doors, and windows meet
  • Weatherstripping doors and windows
  • Adding more attic insulation

It is recommended to have an R-49 insulation value for attics in new homes, equivalent to about 14 inches of blown-in cellulose insulation. Many homes, especially older ones, fall short of this standard, leading to increased heating and cooling costs due to inadequate insulation. It's also essential to consider insulation in other areas like exterior walls (modern standards recommend R-20) and basements or crawl spaces. Another often overlooked aspect is sealing small openings around ductwork, plumbing, and wiring that lead to air leaks.

A comprehensive energy audit takes these considerations a step further. It starts with a building envelope air-leakage test using a blower door and infrared camera to identify areas where outside air leaks in, potentially costing hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars in energy loss. The audit also examines the home’s HVAC duct system for air leaks, which can be sealed to improve efficiency.

closeup of home energy bill holded in hands

This is a standard audit managed by the Department of Energy (DOE). All home inspectors trained to perform an Energy Audit, or Home Energy Score (HES), have set standards and practices that they must follow. In essence, the inspector is there to collect information about the home and its features. This information is then logged into the DOE’s system that determines what the home’s rating is on a scale of 1 to 10, with a score of 10 representing a highly energy-efficient home.

Following the audit, a detailed report provides insights into energy losses and recommended improvements. Performing an energy audit requires specialized training, equipment, and technical knowledge. While you may have some initial sticker shock, the cost of an energy audit can often be recouped within a year through savings in utilities.

Some local governments or utility companies may even offer subsidies for energy audits. It's worth checking with your local energy provider to see if such incentives are available in your area.

While an energy audit is beyond the scope of a standard home inspection, WIN Home Inspection is among the few to offer a Home Energy Score (HES) as an additional service. This report compares your home’s energy usage to similar homes and provides recommendations for improvements, including estimated annual savings.

If you’re looking to enhance the energy efficiency of your home and reduce your monthly energy costs, then it’s time to schedule an Energy Audit!

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WIN Home Inspection

WIN Home Inspection is the #1 ranked inspection services company in the U.S. and is proud to provide essential home inspection services to home buyers, homeowners and home sellers in 45+ states nationwide.

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