"So you unwrapped your favorite Christmas present—a shiny new home energy audit—and then found a reputable company to do the work. What happens now?
If you're like me, not much.
My wife and I got an energy audit for our leaky house in the Colorado foothills several years ago—but aside from replacement doors and windows—we didn't follow through on the range of options designed to boost home performance. Attic insulation, for example, remained a bit lacking—in part because of an energetic cat, Mr. Moo, who over the years wore trails down in the insulation during his quests to defend against intruders. Leaks in the foundation, gaps in the walls, and floodlight holes in the ceiling—all remained, stealing energy.
Now, in the teeth of a winter which seems to stretch from Texas to Puerto Rico, I'm wondering why we didn't act sooner. Maybe we felt a bit overwhelmed, even though we knew we could save 5%-30% on our energy bills.
Finally, after talking to an NREL building engineer, I contacted a local company which has an expert who analyzes home energy audits and then proposes the next steps. When this efficiency guru, Dennis, showed up at our house, he was armed only with a few tools: a temperature gun, a ladder, and a checklist—as well as a bundle of ideas.
He homed in on fixes for our home. In a matter of hours, he had surveyed our house, recorded options, prioritized them, and given us cost estimates to make our good efficiency intentions real. Some upgrades are basic: more CFLs in lamps, or blinds turned up rather than down, to keep heat from flowing towards cold windows. There were others which didn't seem urgent—wrapping boiler pipes with insulation or covering a wall opposite the furnace with reflective, space-blanket type material to reflect heat back to the room. Yet Dennis, a 30-year veteran in the business of energy saving, assured us those fixes mattered, so we'll proceed.
And unlike our first encounter with an audit, with its laundry list of choices, we are aware that we can pick and choose what makes the most sense to retrofit. After insulating the pipes and getting a reflective shield up, we'll watch as our bills go down. Next year, perhaps we can add another element.
As winter slashes us with the latest assault, we'll be able to punch back. We may not get a knockout in this round of energy bills, but we're confident we are still throwing punches. Our old audit, dormant for years, is finally having an impact. Even our cat, no longer agile enough to pad through attic insulation, will enjoy the results and look at us as if to say "Why did you wait so long?" as he curls up for a winter nap.
For more information, check out Energy Saver’s home energy audit resources."