About the Energy Audit
Getting an energy audit of your home is an important first step to improving you home's energy efficiency. The audit will pinpoint areas for improvement and help you understand costs, so you will now where to focus your efforts.
Finding an Energy Auditor
There is a wide scope within the world of energy audits, so how do you know what to look for? As with any home improvement project, getting quotes from several potential firms will help you understand the services they provide and make sure the pricing is competitive.
Here are a few ways to find energy auditors:
- Utility company—There are free or low-cost options available through the utility companies (such as the Dominion Energy Ohio’s Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® Program if you’re a Dominion customer with natural gas heated home), but be sure you understand ahead of time what the final report will contain. Also keep in mind that utility programs and some other incentives are for a limited time, for example the Dominion program is currently available but subject to future funding, so take advantage of them as soon as you can.
- Industry organizations—There are industry organizations that certify energy auditors, so that’s often a good place to start to identify one. These include the Building Performance Institute (BPI) and RESNET Home Energy Rating Systems (HERS), both of which certify individuals who conduct the audits. In any event, be sure that your home energy auditor is certified with a nationally recognized third party organization.
- Local recommendations—You can also search a home improvement marketplace like Angie's List (just read the reviews carefully and make sure there are enough of them), or by talking to friends and neighbors who may have had similar work done. In all cases, be sure that your home energy auditor is certified with a nationally recognized third party organization such as BPI.
Like any contractor working in Shaker Heights, the firm or individual must be licensed with the City's Building Department. Please note that any contractor can register, so being on the list does not constitute an endorsement or mean that the contractor is recommended.
What to Expect
Once you’ve hired an energy auditor or worked with one of the utilities to arrange an audit, what happens next? The process typically takes a few hours and definitely includes the blower door test mentioned in the Energy Efficiency recommendations. Some auditors may present the results that day while others will prepare a written report that could take several days. Regardless, in the end you want to have a clear understanding of what steps you should take, how much it is expected to cost, the return on that investment, and the incentives, rebates, and tax credits that will help you pay for it.
In the end, there should be a program for everyone including income-qualified programs from the utilities and local organizations such as the Cleveland Housing Network (which administers the FirstEnergy Community Connections program). There may also be a combination of rebates and incentives, as the Dominion Energy program is offering through 2024, that could reduce costs by a third or more. As with any program that entails tax credits and income guidelines, familiarize yourself with the official websites (such as the White House’s Inflation Reduction Act Guidebook) and consult a tax professional if you have questions.