Let's Clear the Air About Home Energy Audits

Reader Contribution by Tim Snyder

The word “audit” doesn’t exactly cause people to have warm and fuzzy positive feelings; it’s too closely associated with the dreaded “tax audits” done by the IRS. The negative connotation of “audit” probably explains why home energy audits have been renamed so many times. Depending on who you’re talking to or what website you’re visiting, you’ll hear energy audits referred to as “home energy checkups” or “energy evaluations.” At the Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy website run by the Dept. of Energy (http://www.eere.energy.gov/), audits are referred to as “energy assessments.”

I think it’s time to put a positive spin on “audit,” at least in terms of its application in analyzing how a home uses and loses energy. In short, an energy audit is a good thing. The series of tests, inspections and calculations that go into a comprehensive energy audit provide homeowners with specific energy performance information that’s essential if you want to save energy and money spent on utilities.

A home energy audit is the right thing to do for your pocketbook and for our planet. But there are other benefits as well. Air leaks, leaky ductwork and other conditions that waste energy also introduce moisture and mold into building assemblies, threatening occupant health as well as building durability. Combustion appliances (gas stoves, oil-fired furnaces, gas clothes dryers, etc. that don’t vent properly can expose building occupants to hazardous and even lethal concentrations of carbon monoxide. All of these issues should be addressed in a thorough energy audit.

It’s important to know that home energy audits can vary greatly, depending on who’s performing them. For more details, and a good explanation of the common home energy problems that a home energy audit should identify, I like the details provided by Dr. Energy Saver of CT (http://www.drenergysaverct.com/home-energy-audit.html).