Every year you gather up all the receipts and expense records of your household or business, organize everything as best you can, taking advantage of all the tax deductions you know about – then bring your shoebox full of papers to an accountant to do your actual federal and state tax returns. It’s not a pleasant task, and you don’t like paying the tax professional, but they save you enough money to make it more than worthwhile. Not to mention, keeping you safe from a full audit by the IRS.
An energy audit has all the same issues – and benefits. Even engineering professionals who manage a large building or facility absolutely hate energy audits. “How dare they tell me what to do! Everything works just fine already. Why do I need to go and install all this new-fangled technology?”
1001 Energy Tips helps you do the grunt work – all the easy ways to save energy – so that when the energy auditor shows up, they can focus on all the complicated issues: the projects that will save you much more money! The more you do beforehand and the better informed you are about your home, business, or facility – the more you’ll benefit from the energy audit.
Energy Star has you covered: A do-it-yourself energy assessment guideline has sections for weatherization, air sealing, insulation, moisture control, and ventilation. Each section of the Energy Star website has valuable information to guide your way. Your diligence in these five important areas gets you ready for the professional energy audit.
Just as you’ve learned from past tax cycles what deductions you’re qualified for and what documents to gather through the year to apply for those deductions, you need to study up on what the energy auditor does and the different tests they perform. The Energy Star website explains these tests, what they mean, and whether or not you should get them.
Energy Star gives you tips on finding a qualified energy auditor, too. Your first call should be to your utility company. They often provide energy audits free of charge or pay part of the cost. Energy Star’s Home Performance Assessment page tells you how to do your own energy audit, with a search by zip code to find your local utility or state energy office for even more tips applicable to your locale and climate. They also have a full list of all the state-level Energy Star certified programs. These state websites will direct you to local businesses that can do your home energy audit.
There are several national networks that have certified energy auditors on call that you can hire with confidence. The benchmark standard for home energy audits is the Home Energy Rating System (HERS), or HERS Index. Their website has a search algorithm to find a HERS rater in your area.
NOTE: Small businesses can often use home energy auditors to get their energy assessments. They might not be as comprehensive as an audit done by a qualified Professional Engineer (or as expensive), but you’ll get a thorough assessment of the facility and save enough energy to justify the cost. Later, if you do get a full engineering assessment, they can focus on the most complicated systems, and also benefit from the auditors’ documentation.