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Home Energy Audit

Pinpoint Where You’re Losing Energy

Are your home energy bills getting out of hand? Does your house feel drafty even when you crank up the heat? Have you been dragging your feet on giving your house an energy-efficiency tune-up because you don’t know where to start?

Home Energy Audit

If you answer yes to any of these questions, you might want to hire a professional home-energy auditor.

Home energy auditors come to your home and identify where energy is being wasted. If you follow through on the recommendations from the home energy audit, you may be able to reduce your energy costs by as much as 20% to 30%, especially if your house is older and hasn’t been retrofitted for energy efficiency.

Energy auditors are similar to home performance contractors—in fact, some companies provide both types of services. But energy auditors focus specifically on saving energy. Home performance contractors look at other issues as well, such as saving water and improving indoor air quality.

A home energy audit makes sense for every type of home: apartments, condos, single-family houses, multifamily buildings. But if you don’t own your home, be aware that many of the auditor’s recommendations may be for improvements that only a building owner can make, like upgrading heating or cooling equipment or adding more insulation.

If you’re a diligent do-it-yourselfer, you can conduct your own home energy audit with guidance from online checklists or utility company brochures. But unless you have considerable expertise, you may miss out on savings opportunities. It’s also unlikely that you’ll want to invest in the expensive, specialized diagnostic tools that many professional auditors use to pinpoint where your home is losing energy.

Home Energy Audit – Buyer Beware

When shopping around for a home energy auditor, look for companies that provide unbiased advice based on sound building science and economics.  Start by looking in our directory!

Before signing a contract, do your homework to make sure the company is reputable (for tips, see our article on hiring a contractor). Be cautious about companies that offer free or very low-cost energy audits; their primary goal may be to sell expensive repairs and products. While many of these companies are above board, some use the free audit as a tactic to pressure you into paying for repair work that may be overpriced or unnecessary. Replacing windows, for example, rarely makes sense from an energy-savings standpoint.

Many companies only do home energy audits, not any associated remediation work. The cost of a basic home energy audit generally ranges from $200 to $500.

Companies provide different levels of home energy assessments, so when comparing fees, make sure you understand what you’ll be getting. You’ll also want to verify that the audit will include a “blower door test” and “infrared thermography.” These two diagnostic procedures, described below, are key to pinpointing where your home is losing energy.

What to Expect From an Energy Audit

Once you’ve signed a contract, your energy auditing company will send someone out to do a top-to-bottom visual inspection of the whole house, including the attic and basement. This auditor will look at the building components and systems that affect energy use, such as ducts, windows and doors, insulation levels, and heating and cooling equipment. Be sure to be home during the audit so you can ask questions and point out areas of particular concern, like condensation on windows or drafts in certain rooms.

If your auditor conducts a blower door test, he or she will probably install a large fan (set within a door-sized panel) into one of your home’s exterior doorways. When the fan is turned on, it will suck air out of the building. By measuring the rate of air flow, the auditor can determine how leaky the house is.

To find the source of the air leaks, the auditor can walk around the house with a smoke plume (such as from an incense stick) to see where air is being drawn in from the outside. The auditor’s report will include recommendations on how to remedy those air leaks.

Many energy auditors also used an infrared camera to conduct a thermographic inspection of walls, ceilings, and areas around windows and doors to see where insulation may be missing or poorly installed, or where the building’s components aren’t airtight. On the infrared image, colder spots show up as dark areas.

The auditor will also analyze your utility bills for the past year or more and will ask you some questions about your household’s habits as they relate to energy use. (If you don’t keep copies of your bills, you can get them from your utility company.) This information will help the auditor compile a list of recommendations for energy savings.

The Audit Report

After the audit, the company will give you a written report describing its findings and suggesting actions to save energy. The report should prioritize the recommendations and for each item it should explain what’s needed and how much energy could be saved by making the change. If this information isn’t clear, ask the auditor for details.

Some of the recommendations will likely be easy fixes that you can do yourself, like replacing incandescent lights with compact fluorescents, putting weather stripping around windows that don’t fit tightly in their frames, or installing door sweeps under exterior doors.

Other recommendations, like adding insulation or upgrading to more-efficient heating or cooling equipment, may take more effort and money, or require the services of a professional.

Don’t be pressured into buying products or repair services from your auditing company. As with any home improvement project, take your time to do research and interview multiple contractors. Many energy auditors don’t do repair work themselves but can provide you with a list of contractors you can call for estimates.

Remember, in the end, an energy audit is just a piece of paper. To save energy, you’ll likely have to make some changes. Some will cost money, but others will be free. To get a sense of what they might entail, go to “15 Ways to Save a Buck and a Watt.”

20 Responses to “Home Energy Audit”

  1. Green-julie Says:

    When I first got interested in greening my home, I called ecoProach in the San Francisco Bay Area ( They had a lot of great information on how to get the most out of my audit. Their website’s FAQ section was also pretty helpful. It’s true, look for people who will give you honest advice without pushing the hard sell. Those are the auditors who have integrity.

  2. William Says:

    Energy audits are one way home owners can learn about their home’s inefficiencies. The solution to the audit is often upgrades. Another solution is lifestyle adjustment. There are a lot of easy things a person can do that positively impact that individual’s energy efficiency. For tips on how to improve your personal energy efficiency, visit and click the “Get Informed” tab.

  3. Ryan Says:

    is it expensive to get an audit done on your home. What are some of the prices people are paying for these audits

  4. Bianca Says:

    I have a doggie door in my house. Does anyone have any suggestions on what I can do so that less of the air leaks out? I feel like it’s making my energy bills way too high!

  5. Lee Says:

    I’ve never heard of an energy audit! I’m pretty good about conserving energy in my home, but Im sure if I hired an energy auditor, they would be able to find something.

  6. Mary Says:

    Are services like these really free?

  7. Dolores Says:

    How much does an energy audit cost? I imagine the money would eventually be worth the energy savings, but how long does that take?!

  8. ANDREA COLE Says:

    My home totally needs an energy audit!! My bills are up the wazoo lately!

  9. Cynthia Says:

    Tell me about it. I’ve never heard of this sort of thing, but I’ll for sure look into it now.

  10. C pavelek Says:

    You can purchase books on this subject or go to the Department of Energy (DOE) website and search for home energy audits. I did not perform the audit, but I did weatherize my home. I live up north, Michigan to be exact, and weatherizing my home has really helped with heating bills. Adding extra insulation, sealing gaps and holes, replacing weather striping around doors and windows. I think the most important aspect of the process when weatherizing my home was sealing gaps using foam. Beyond what I have mentioned, the next step may be windows and a new 90 to 90 percent efficient gas forced air furnace.

  11. Green-Julie Says:

    I was expecting to pay a ton for my audit, but it actually ended up being free. After my evaluation, ecoProach credited me back the amount I spent on the audit towards my renovations. Not a bad deal if you consider the money I’m saving on my power bill these days. If anybody’s looking for someone to talk to about energy audits, ask for Will or Eric at ecoProach. They really know their stuff: (408) 720-8727

  12. solar for your home Says:

    Are we the only ones concerned about this issue?

  13. NC Mom Says:

    I called Phillip Richardson at McAuslin Consultants 828-329-2675, and he came in and did a complete Home Energy Audit. He was very professional and extremely helpful. He showed me the things that could be done to save energy, and gave me cost estimates on each repair and the potential savings for each. He then recommended local contractors I could call and have the work done. He was there to help me, not sell me a product. He did not just leave me there, he has been available to answer my questions throughout the process. If you are interested in saving money on your bills, or are just curious as to what an energy audit is, I would recommend Phillip and his company to anyone.

  14. Gary Wollenhaupt Says:

    If you want to do an energy audit yourself, Black & Decker makes a thermal leak detector that helps you see where your home may be losing energy. I got mine for $29 at a big box lumber store. Of course, now I know my insulation is the walls is not doing the job, but I don’t know what to do about it. Here’s a good review of the product:

  15. Wes Says:

    Not all energy audits or energy auditors are created equal. Do your research and make sure your auditor holds the correct certifications in BPI, HERS, NCI, Etc. Anyone can call themselves an auditor or energy consultant and perform a “Energy Audit”. In regards to the price of the audit, just like most things you get what you pay for and prices range from free to $1000 for a 1500 square foot home.

    Check out to learn more.

  16. Bob Says:

    Free walk-through audits are a HELP, but to get comfort and savings, an audit should include blower-door testing and combustion testing for Carbon Monoxide.
    Here is our Home Energy Savings Guide link with 28 years of FYI’s…

  17. John Porterfield Says:

    As an energy auditor we see:
    Renovation work presents opportunities to make substantial efficiency gains within the disruption required for other improvements.
    Most people undervalue efficiency. Efficiency loan payments that are LESS than utility savings . . . positive cash flow. A more efficient home is worth more. “Payback” cloaks the reality that efficiency can produce immediate positive cash flow and increased net worth. Payback misleads most people to believe they must wait for results from reduced energy use.
    Most efficiency work provides more comfort.
    Contractors, bless them, have a loyalty to their family that trumps loyalty to the homeowner. Depend on contractors to do the best job they can, and depend on independent energy guidance to cook up the best “game plan.”
    It is possible that planning, doing, and checking results of energy use reduction is fun!

  18. Edwin Says:

    Does your website have a contact page? I’m having problems locating it but, I’d like to shoot you
    an e-mail. I’ve got some creative ideas for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great site and I look forward to seeing it grow over time.

  19. Heather-Leigh Logan Says:

    Yes, you can contact Heather-Leigh Logan at [email protected].

  20. Elion Technologies And Consulting Pvt Ltd Says:

    If we use CFL for domestic lightning instead of choke type fluorescenttube lights then we can have more lumens per watt then fluorescent tubes of the same rating and thus we can save power consumption.

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