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Online audit tools can give you a basic understanding of how your home compares to similar ones. However, a qualified and professional home energy auditor can use their experience and high-tech tools to provide a thorough report of your home's challenges and opportunities. A professional energy audit can range from a quick, visual walk-through of the home to a more comprehensive, more informative — but more expensive assessment.
Energy audits require an examination of the building envelope (attic, floor, and exterior walls) and the energy systems in the home, such as the water heater, air conditioner and furnace. Follow the auditor during the inspection, and ask questions so you can understand where the problems are, what you can address yourself and where you may need further professional help. The auditor may analyze your recent energy bills to determine what your energy is used for and if use has recently changed. Finally, the auditor will ask about the energy use behaviors for those who live in the home. For example, is someone home all day, or does everyone leave for work and school? Ford Tupper, an energy auditor with The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina noted, "The residents' habits can make a big impact on the energy bill and can also be the hardest to change. If you go from being a household with two working adults to one with a new baby and an adult home most of the day, your energy use is going to go up."
An auditor may do some or all of the following tests:
Following the assessment of your home, the auditor will analyze the information and make recommendations on what systems could be upgraded or behavior changes you can make to reduce energy use and improve comfort. If you take action based on your auditor's recommendations, you could lower your energy bill five to thirty percent, and perhaps even more!
Your public power district or electric co-op may be able to help you get started with your energy audit. Some electric utilities even offer free audits or can provide you with a list of qualified energy auditors in the area. Be sure whoever you hire is willing to answer questions, and plan to be home during the audit — it is a great opportunity to learn what makes your home tick and how you can make it even better. For More information on energy audits vist the Nebraska Energy Office Home Energy Rating System webpage.