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Finding a Home Energy Auditor: The Questions to Ask

A good home energy audit provides you with an owner's manual for your house, and a guide to saving money on energy bills. Find the right energy auditor to make sure your audit works for you.

Blower Door Test during Home Energy AuditDone right, a home energy audit can help you reduce your energy bills, increase the value of your house, and make you an altogether better informed homeowner.

To help make sure that your audit will be the best, most practical, most cost-effective and useful audit possible, we've put together a short list of questions to ask a potential auditor before he or she gets to your house.
 
1) What certifications do you hold, and what type of training was involved in those certifications? Your home is your castle. Find an expert. For more information, see our Guide to Energy Audit Certification.
 
2) Will you be conducting a blower door test? A blower door test is an integral part of an energy audit.  If a potential auditor doesn't plan on conducting one, you may want to consider talking to another.
 
3) Will you be using an infrared camera? And if so, "In this particular season, is there enough of a temperature difference between inside and outside to make infrared images useful?" We found an infrared audit to be extremely helpful, but bear in mind infrared thermography requires a temperature differential between indoors and outdoors to be effective.  Talk to your auditor about schedule options to make the thermographic inspection as effective as possible.
 
4)  Will you conduct CO testing?  Many auditors conduct Carbon Monoxide tests as a routine part of their audit. This is central to the overall safety of your house, and is worth including. In fact, auditors should evaluate all visible gas and oil lines and combustion appliances to insure that there are no leaks.
 
5) Will you test ventilation? A thorough audit is not limited to reducing energy waste.  Healthy houses must have appropriate ventilation.  Find out if your auditor intends to test the mechanical ventilation systems in your house (a category that includes everything from a range hood to an Energy Recovery Ventilator or a bathroom fan) to ensure that they conform to safety standards.
 
6) May I see a sample report? Audits are great, but we've noticed that the quality of reports varies significantly. Although we recommend that you follow your auditor during the audit, the report is key. Find out if the report will prioritize improvements based on their cost-effectiveness, and how it will be organized. You'll want to be sure it's intelligible, contains a concrete inventory of measures, prioritization of those improvements based on cost-effectiveness, and clear instructions for those things you can take on yourself.
 
7) Do you work as a contractor, as well as an energy auditor? Or, "Will you be planning on a contract to make the upgrades recommended in your audit report?"  For a lot of homeowners, it's handy to get a 2-in-1 building professional to conduct the audit and make the upgrades (often called a home performance contractor). It never hurts to know what real world building experience your auditor has.
 
And finally, there's no substitute for a few good references.  Be sure not to skip this step.
 

Done right, a home energy audit can help you reduce your energy bills, increase the value of your home, and make you an altogether better informed homeowner.