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So what is an energy audit, and why would I want one?


This time of year, we talk a lot about getting your home ready for winter, and with good reason. It’s important to keep your home warm, comfortable and safe during the harsh winter months, and without taking some important steps, maintaining the desired level of comfort and safety can be far more difficult and expensive than you’re interested in dealing with.

Energy audits are a winter prep task of increasing popularity. Who wouldn’t want an energy-efficiency expert to show up, tell you where strengths and weaknesses are and what you can do about it? Consider, too, that your local energy company might even offer the audit for free (but keep in mind some of the you-get-what-you-pay-for advice offered here).

Sounds great, but what happens during an energy audit, and what exactly would you get out of it? A writer over at AOL’s DIY Life blog wondered much the same thing:

I’m no stranger to energy efficiency. I’m well-versed in ENERGY STAR appliances and compact fluorescent light bulbs. But I have to be honest: I’d never had an energy audit before. I’ve read plenty of articles that stated how beneficial it can be to get one performed in your home. But until recently, I was clueless about what an energy audit actually entails or why it’s important.

So I hired Sherard Murphy of Pro Energy Consultants and tagged along as he completed an energy audit on my mom’s 1940s New Jersey home. I learned that an energy audit is one of the smartest investments you can make in your home. In a nutshell, the energy consultant uses special technologies to uncover building shell problems that typically go undiscovered and unresolved by builders, architects, and insulators. My mom walked away with a boatload of information about how to make her home more energy efficient, which equates to considerable savings in her energy bill and a home that’s comfortable in the chilly days of winter and the hot days of summer.

The auditor uses a lot more than a clipboard, a pen and a look around the houses. An effective energy auditor’s tools include smoke sticks and an infrared camera to locate air leaks and a blower door (see photo) to get a picture of how air (including leaky, efficiency-zapping drafts) flows through the house. The writer learned how simple things like insulating spray foam, an attic tent, or a sump pump cover can help keep energy use and costs under control.

Have you ever had an energy audit conducted on your home? What did you learn from the process?