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Home Energy Audits

If there is one thing that we could recommend to every homeowner, whether you are considering renovations or not, it would be to hire a professional Energy Auditor to perform a thorough energy audit of your home. Not only will the audit save you thousands of dollars in energy costs over time, it will probably significantly improve both the comfort and "health" of your home. A typical Home Energy Audit costs only a few hundred dollars, and much of that cost will be rebated to you via BGE (or Pepco).

Make sure you hire a professional Home Energy Auditor who is fully certified by the Building Performance Institute (BPI). Also make sure you understand what will (and will not) be tested and evaluated in your audit. Ask for and review a copy of a typical written audit that the auditors have completed for other homeowners. Make sure you are comfortable with the extent of the audit and what you expect to see in the audit report. Good audit reports should be easy to read and comprehend by the average homeowner. While some technical information must be presented, a good audit report should explain those items in clear laymans terms. Finally, make sure you are present in your home during the audit. Feel free to ask questions during the audit. We have found that homeowners are happier with their audit, and more likely to fillow-up on the recommendations, when they personally witness the audit as it takes place.

A Word of Caution

Unfortunately, even with relatively strict certification requirements, there are still some very bad Home Energy Audit companies doing shoddy and questionable work. Avoid auditors who offer "packaged solutions" in their final report. Some auditors will offer to "completely fix your home" for a fixed amount of money without disclosing the cost of each fix. Some also offer silver, gold, and platinum "certification packages" which usually mean nothing and wind up costing your thousands of dollars for questionable (at best) solutions.

A good energy auditor should list, in order of priority, every item they recommend for your home. There should NOT be a cost of the item or group of items listed in the final report. In our view, energy audit companies who offer both audit and home improvement services are, by definition, posing a clear conflict of interest. Auditors should be auditors only. While they may be in the position of recommending a contractor if you ask, they should not offer the services themselves.

As a rule of thumb, a good energy audit company will charge between $400 an $600 for you audit. Avoid companies that offer "free to you" (after your BGE rebate) services, unless you are fully comfortable with what will be included in your final written report.

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