What is a home energy assessment?
Also referred to as an energy audit, a home energy assessment is an analysis of your home’s energy efficiency, performed by an energy efficiency professional.
There are a few different contractors that are qualified to perform home energy assessments in MA, but we find that the most savings come from the contractors that spend at least two hours getting to know your home. They should inspect your windows, doors, air ducts, lights, water heater, furnace, attic and any crawlspaces. Ideally, they’ll also do a blower door test, use an infra-red camera to check for spots with inadequate insulation or air leaks, and install some basic energy efficient upgrades (free light bulbs!) so you start saving immediately.
Why should you care?
You will save a ton on energy bills. Energy efficiency professionals estimate that about 40% of the heated or cooled air in your home escapes through leaky duct work, gaps in the attic, or loosely fitted windows and doors. Just addressing the little air leaks that allow this to happen can save you a lot of money: thousands of dollars over the lifetime of your home. Now add in all the other little improvements, and you’re looking at a good-sized chunk of change.
Your home will be super cozy. You don’t have to turn down your heater and suffer in the cold to save cash on your fuel bills. By improving the efficiency of your home, you allow your heating system to do less work for more warmth. Also, cutting down on leaks will make that terrible draft you’ve been complaining about go away for good.
You will increase the value of your home. A recent study of homes in the Northwestern United States showed that those people who invested in some energy efficiency measures benefited not only from lower fuel costs and greater comfort, but also from increased property value of up to 10%.
You’ll help cut down on pollution. Roughly 30% of the energy waste in the United States occurs in homes. By making your home more efficient, you can help reduce the amount of particulates and greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
Home energy assessments are free in Massachusetts. Normally, it would cost about $300 to have an energy efficiency professional inspect your home, but in Massachusetts, the utility companies have volunteered to foot the bill… sort of.
…Because you have already paid for it. When the utilities say they’re sponsoring no-cost home energy assessments, what they really mean is that they’re charging you monthly for no-cost home energy assessments. Among the other obscure charges on your utility bill, you’ll find one called the ‘Energy Efficiency’ or ‘Energy Conservation’ charge. It’s not much, but you’ve been paying it for a while, along with every other electricity-user in Massachusetts. The money from that charge is used to fund the programs that offer home energy assessments.
How do you schedule an appointment with a contractor?
We recommend Next Step Living, a local energy efficiency and renewables company. They do a fantastic job training their energy efficiency specialists, are they a whole lot more thorough than some of the other contractors out there. You’ll get a lot of great insights about your home, and you are sure to save a bundle. They’ll also come up with a good action plan for you to continue improving your home, but if you just want the free light bulbs, they won’t force it on you.