Improving your home’s efficiency can save you money and reduce your carbon footprint

As we dig into the coldest months of winter, minimizing utility bills is a priority for many households. There are a number of ways you can make your home more energy efficient and save money on energy bills. But where should you begin? How do you discover what improvements your home needs most? You can get the answers to these questions with a home energy audit.

What is a home energy audit? A good home energy audit is a series of tests done by a professional that assesses the energy efficiency of your home, which areas use the most energy, and how to best improve your energy efficiency. A home energy auditor can analyze everything from major appliances and phantom loads to insulation levels and air leaks — gathering the information you need to both improve efficiency and prioritize your home energy projects.

To find a certified home energy auditor in your area, search the databases from Energy Star and the Residential Energy Services Network. Ask your local utility provider if they offer home energy audits, some do free of charge. Another place to check is your local phonebook.

As you decide who to hire, there are a few things you can do to help insure that your experience is a success:

  • Ask your potential auditor for multiple references and contact each reference, inquiring about their satisfaction with the auditor and the work performed.
  • Call the Better Business Bureau and ask about any complaints against the company.
  • Make sure your auditor uses a calibrated blower door (a powerful fan used to test your home for airtightness) as part of their inspection.
  • It’s also important to hire an auditor that will perform a thermographic inspection, or to contract another company to do one.

A home energy audit can get you on track to save money on utility bills for years to come, as well as to minimize your carbon footprint. When you’ve identified your home’s trouble spots, you can formulate a plan that works for your budget and timeline. You can find out more about home energy audits and finding a certified inspector with these handy resources:

Have you hired a home energy auditor? Share your tips and experiences in the comments section below.