Consumers who improve their home’s energy efficiency can reap the benefits of energy savings. Several different inspection services are available to help homeowners pinpoint areas of potential savings.
The U.S. federal government offers an online do-it-yourself auditing tool for consumers. Go to http://hes.lbl.gov/ and follow their instructions to receive a personalized energy savings report for your home. Collecting the information for the audit can take some time. If you had a general home inspection when you purchased your home, find it. The home inspection report contains much of the information needed to complete the audit.
Certified Home Energy Raters perform an on-site inspection covering items such as: insulation, windows, construction, ducts, heating and cooling equipment, water heaters, lighting, appliances and thermostats. Blower door tests determine areas of leakage within the home “envelope.” Measurements and findings are entered into the software and the homeowner receives a report detailing the current energy rating, recommended improvements and energy savings predictions possible with different improvements. These reports may help the homeowner in securing an energy efficient mortgage through Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA and VA that includes the cost of energy efficient improvements. New home builders wanting to qualify for certain tax advantages are required to use raters to check the energy efficiency levels of recent construction.
Raters must meet certain education requirements prior to taking a final exam and then continue to meet education and quality assurance standards set by the Residential Energy Services Network in order to maintain their certification.
Infrared camera inspections are another way to analyze some areas of energy loss in the home. Trained infrared inspectors can use the cameras to locate areas of missing insulation, electrical hot spots and water intrusion.
Home Tune-Ups, a division of CMC Energy Services, offers another version of an energy audit. Tune-Up inspectors perform a visual inspection and provide their clients with a cost and savings report for improvements. The Tune-Up includes access to a database of contractors. CMC trains its own inspectors and offers its own software program for determining energy savings.
Individual states or utilities may also offer weatherization programs or energy audits. Wisconsin is one such state. These programs very widely from state to state. For more information, try contacting your local utility, state energy office, or sometimes health and human services, which may administer some of the energy reduction program monies. Information on energy efficiency legislation, programs and standards are also broken down state by state on a new Web site: http://www.ase.org/content/article/detail/2356 sponsored by the Alliance to Save Energy. For more information on becoming energy inspections and savings in Canada, go to: http://oee.nrcan.gc.ca/residential.