Have you ever considered what you can do to cut down on your energy costs? We’ll bet you have. A hot summer or a cold winter will drive up either gas or electricity prices and leave many homeowners wondering if there’s any relief for the issue.
Usually, there is. Easy fixes include making sure that your windows and doors are closed while the air conditioning is running, or turning all the lights out in a room that’s not in use. There are many other, less recognized methods of keeping your energy use efficient, however. Figuring these steps out becomes easier with the help of a professional energy audit.
If you order this service, a certified home energy rater will come to your home and measure its score on the HERS Index, or Home Energy Rating System. Basically, the lower the score, the more efficient the home. A typical new home comes in at around 100 on the HERS scale, while older homes register around 130. The rater will be able to evaluate your home and advise on methods to bring the score down, saving energy…and money!
This generally comes with a cost, however, and some homeowners might want to weigh how much they’ll save or lose before ordering an audit. The typical audit costs between $200 to $500, depending on location. Consider these situations to judge whether a home energy audit is a wise investment. Realtors, also keep this consideration in mind if your clients are in the market for a previously-owned home.
The easiest way to determine whether an energy audit is worth your time is to research whether your home state offers assistance. Some states—such as New York, New Jersey and Maryland—offer free energy audits as a method to keep prices down and avoid other side effects of an inefficient power grid.
If your state offers it for free, go for it! You’ve got nothing to lose.
Some states aren’t quite as generous but still have healthy options for owners. California and its Energy Upgrade program, for example, will refund homeowners up to $500 to have an audit conducted. Some energy providers will also offer cheap audits (in the $50 range) because it helps them keep their costs, as well as yours, down.
No, probably not. Consider that the price of making your home isn’t as simple as paying $400 for a professional audit. Once that step is complete, the owner will be responsible for making the suggested changes that will bring the property to full efficiency. This could include new insulation, sealing windows and doors, and other projects.
Some sellers remodel kitchens or bathrooms when preparing a home for the market, but those elements have a higher impact on selling a home than energy-related projects.
Still, it’s worthwhile to discuss the issue with a realtor who knows the area, and can tell you how much of an impact such repairs will have on your home’s resale value.
Good question. There are a number of questions you should ask yourself before answering.
One: How long do you plan on living at that residence? If you see yourself moving out in less than ten years, you may want to forego the energy audit. Take into consideration how long it will take for the savings on your energy bills to surpass the amount that you’ll pay to make your home efficient.
This might factor into the age of the home you end up buying. An older home may be cheaper upfront, but how much will bills and future repairs tack on to how much you pay in the end? It may be worth it if you plan on staying long enough to justify the repairs needed to cancel out those energy inefficiencies.
The second thing to ask yourself: Can you afford the fixes that the auditor may suggest? If you’ve just bought a new home, obviously you’re lower on savings than you were previously. Understand that their suggestions may come with considerable additional costs. If you can’t afford to re-insulate your home right now, it doesn’t do much good to pay someone to tell you that you should.
Plenty of people love older homes and the character they possess. If you’re in the market for that kind of home, keep energy efficiency in mind and be willing to make necessary changes. If you don’t want to wrap your head around energy efficiency and the costs it incurs, you’re better off just paying extra upfront and going for a new home. According to the Department of Energy, the average HERS score is 62 for a home built in 2015, more than 32 percent more efficient than the average home built a decade ago.