When it comes to residential energy efficiency efforts, at CUB we promote free and easy first. For other efforts that may involve a substantial investment, we highly recommend getting a professional home energy audit.
Why? You need to understand where exactly there is potential for energy savings and an energy audit will answer that question. It’s also important to do the right thing in the right order to maximize your efforts and dollars to be more efficient. For example, often people think, “My windows are leaky, I need new windows” Maybe, maybe not. Rather than spending thousands of dollars on windows, perhaps more attic insulation, at a fraction of the cost, has a bigger impact on your energy bills, and the windows could just be resealed rather than replaced. Best to get some professional advice and find out.
I recently moved to a new home and had an energy audit by the Home Energy Squad. It’s a great step for a new homeowner, as many new homeowners have a wish list of home improvement projects, ranging from small cosmetic changes to major remodels. It’s important to know if you have opportunities for energy savings as you’re working on your home’s to do list-especially if near-term investments are going to end up saving you money. Better yet, money saved can help you pay for the other items on your to-do list!
Xcel and/or CenterPoint customers who use the Energy Squad have two choices in audit: a regular audit or an enhanced audit. You can also get more basic audits offered by Xcel and CenterPoint. (Contact your utility about options for energy audit. You may be eligible for a discounted audit or you could choose to hire a certified energy auditor on your own.) As an Xcel and CenterPoint customer, I chose an Energy Squad enhanced audit to get a thorough inspection and the benefit of free installation of energy-saving devices. Normally, the enhanced audits are $100, but I was able to take advantage of a promotion (these happen somewhat regularly) so it was only $60. This was a great deal, and at $100, it would have still been a great deal. Here are some of the highlights of the audit:
- All incandescent lightbulbs were replaced with high-efficiency LED bulbs. This is a HUGE value. Not only will I save money by using the LED bulbs, the bulbs were included in the audit price. Sometimes the audit is worth it just to get all the free LED bulbs!
- New weather stripping was installed on my outside doors that needed it, which will reduce air leaks year round.
- My electric water heater, which is on the older side, was wrapped with an insulation blanket to improve its efficiency. (An insulation blanket is typically not recommended on new water heaters.)
- A free programmable thermostat was installed, and the technician programmed it based on my household’s patterns during the weekdays and weekends.
- Water-saving faucet aerators and a low flow shower head were installed.
- Blower door test was conducted that identified whether and where there were air leaks.
- The Energy Squad prepared a detailed Energy Fitness Plan that summarized further steps, such as additional insulation, that were recommended to improve my home’s energy efficiency. Cost estimates were included as well as information on financing the improvements.
As illustrated above, the energy audit was a good investment of time and money. If you’ve already done the free and easy things to save energy, and you think there could be some more opportunities to improve the efficiency of your home, strongly consider getting an energy audit. Contact your local utility to find out about audit options in your area.