Energy Audits: What Homeowners Need to Know

A home energy audit can help you save money and energy. Here’s what experienced energy rater Ken Riead had to say about the process.

  • Window and Insulation
    An energy audit can help you determine which home energy improvements are worthwhile for your home. For example, many people consider installing more energy efficient windows, but adding insulation to your home is likely to save more money and energy.
  • Ken Riead
    Ken Riead of Hathmore Technologies, LLC in Independence, Mo., does energy audits and has trained other energy auditors and energy raters.
  • Blower Door Test
    A blower door test measures air infiltration.
  • Infrared Image
    This infrared photograph of a home’s window shows where heat loss occurs.

  • Window and Insulation
  • Ken Riead
  • Blower Door Test
  • Infrared Image

Finding ways to heat and cool your home more efficiently has many benefits. To name a few: Home energy improvements can lower your heating and cooling bills, reduce your carbon footprint and make your home more comfortable. What’s not to love?

But while some energy improvements are cheap (changing your furnace filter), others are expensive (buying a new furnace). And although some of those larger projects may end up saving a lot of energy and money, it’s not always easy to know whether a specific project makes sense for your home, or which projects you should tackle first.

This is where an energy audit comes into the picture. An energy audit can help you decide which projects should be your highest priority, and which ones you might not want to do at all. So what’s involved in a home energy audit, and does it make sense for you?

To answer these questions and more, I talked to a home energy rater, Ken Riead of Hathmore Technologies, LLC in Independence, Mo. Riead does energy audits and has trained other energy auditors and energy raters.

So who should have an energy audit?

Everyone. In fact, new houses typically aren’t as well constructed as the older houses. They can leak more air, causing health and comfort problems, and the quality of the wood and other building components can be poor. Insulation is often very sloppily installed and, in many cases, missing entirely. Most homeowners aren’t knowledgeable about how to look for these problems and how to properly correct them if they find them. Actually, the same problems found in single family homes also occur in duplexes, townhomes, condominiums, apartments and other forms of residences. However, to keep things simple I will use the terms “home” or “residence” from here on.

I would submit that unless your home is an Energy Star home or has undergone energy testing you will likely experience high energy bills and comfort problems, so it is well worth doing an energy audit.

Doris Honeyman
6/24/2011 11:23:42 AM

When you book an energy audit, be sure to tell them if you have vermiculite insulation in the attic. They were unable to do the blower fan door test at my home because of this. Had I known this beforehand, I would not have gone ahead as I only got limited info from it at a considerable price.

Jo _4
8/25/2010 1:31:46 PM

I think it is great that many local energy companies are providing free or low cost energy audits. In my area, they are also providing assistance to make some of the recommended updates. Just a word of warning though. You still need to be aware of who is paying them, even if it is the power company. I recently had one funded by the local gas company. He did a great job looking at my heating system, water heater, and shell of the house, the things that affect the gas usage. But, he ignored the electric usage. I have 24 cam flood lights. They produce a ton of heat. In fact, they are the only heat in my finished basement and it only takes about 10 minutes with 6 of them to make it comfortable down there. He never even mentioned the type of light bulds in them. Just be sure you understand what you are getting so you are not surprised. These guys are very knowledgable. Ask them lots of questions. Most of them are willing to answer specific questions.

Mike Rogers_1
6/14/2009 8:22:21 PM

Good post and recommendations. The energy audit alone won’t save you energy–making the recommended improvements will. I particularly like your caution about new windows. And regarding the audit it’s important to get the right audit–accurate and actionable and including key areas like combustion safety, infiltration, and duct leakage. For a bit more background and additional links, follow my post at Thanks, Mike

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