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Efficiency Audits Can Save Energy and Money

The US Department of Energy (DOE) recommends an energy audit as the first step in assessing your energy consumption and improving the energy efficiency of your home.
A do-it-yourself inspection can be a good way to determine problem areas. This can include checking for air leaks, evaluating your insulation levels, and regularly inspecting heating and cooling equipment. You can also ensure that you are using energy-efficient appliances and light bulbs. A detailed guide is available on the DOE Web site.
You may also want to try Southern California Edison’s (SCE) online survey to help gauge your energy use. The SCE Web site offers a variety of helpful information for the energy conscious, and you may even be eligible for discounts or rebates if you take steps to improve your energy efficiency. California’s Flex Your Power Web site is another great resource.
A professional energy audit will go into much more detail than would be feasible for most individuals to do alone. You might spend anywhere from $250 to $700 for a professional audit, not to mention the cost of any upgrades the auditor might suggest; but over time, the savings on your energy bills can be enough to make the investment worthwhile. If you opt for a professional audit, you will want to point out any problem areas you may have noticed and also be sure to have a summary of yearly utility bills available for the auditor.
A cursory examination of your interior and exterior, size, features such as windows and doors, and your behavior may allow the auditor to offer some preliminary suggestions for reducing energy consumption. A detailed audit should include a blower door test, which helps determine how airtight a home is and can pinpoint leakage areas. Energy Star, the US government-sponsored energy efficiency program, also recommends that an audit include a thermographic scan with infrared cameras to highlight warm and cold areas throughout the home.
An energy auditor will generally take their observations and measurement back to the office to complete their calculations. You can expect a detailed report outlining the auditor’s recommendations as well as estimated expenses for improvements or upgrades.
Energy auditors are not necessarily regulated, so it is prudent to do your research before selecting an auditor. The DOE suggests contacting client references before you decide on an auditor, as well as calling the Better Business Bureau to find out if any complaints have been filed about the company. Your utility companies may be able to offer suggestions for reliable auditors.
Even the smallest actions can add up to make a big difference. Whether you opt for a full-service energy audit or simply take a few small steps around the house to cut back on consumption, you can save money on your own utility costs and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing that your efforts are promoting a more sustainable future.

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