When Jason Schlosberg and Donna Lombardo bought their house in Arlington, Va. in 2009, they were pleased with many aspects of their new residence. The house was spacious, the location was convenient, and an ample deck was perfect for entertaining, according to The Washington Times.
The couple were concerned, however, that the house was drafty and perhaps not as energy-efficient as it could be. They also were interested in finding ways to save on their utility bills.
Schlosberg was searching around the internet one day when he saw a deal for a $99 energy audit from a company called Access Green, based in Washington, D.C. He booked the audit, and an auditor came to his house and spent about two hours checking for a range of things, including air leaks, water damage and insulation levels.
Access Green ultimately gave Schlosberg's house an energy rating of three out of five stars. The report determined his house was 2.1 times leakier than it should be, meaning Schlosberg and his family were wasting energy and money every time they ran the heating and air conditioning.
Energy audits like the one Schlosberg received are becoming increasingly common as homeowners become more savvy about the financial and environmental benefits of energy efficiency. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, getting a household energy assessment and correcting identified problems can save consumers "a significant amount of money over time."
Energy Star estimates that homeowners ultimately can save 25 percent to 30 percent in utility bill costs by doing an energy audit and implementing a few measures to improve home performance.
According to Access Green, the average household spends 11 percent of its energy budget on lighting, for example, but switching to more energy-efficient lighting (such as compact fluorescent bulbs) can reduce the amount of energy used for lighting by at least 50 percent.
Audits are provided by a range of entities, including public utility companies; private-sector companies in the energy, insulation or heating and cooling business; and state energy offices. Homeowners are encouraged to find auditors who are certified to perform energy assessments through third-party organizations such as the Building Performance Institute or the Residential Energy Services Network, also known as RESNET. On its website, Energy Star also offers an interactive map to help homeowners find established auditors in their area.