Wednesday, April 1, 2009

"Free" Home Energy Audits

I'm not sure why, exactly, but a lot of people expect energy audits to be gratis, free of charge. Lo and behold, there are a couple forms of "free" energy audits available to homeowners: those provided by utility companies, and those provided by vendors of certain home improvement products. If you were to investigate, here's what you'd find out:

Utility-provided energy audits.
This service is often provided in response to consumer complaints about rising energy bills. It's a good idea, but think about it: how many resources can a company put into a service that generates no revenue? Despite the best of intentions, a "free" energy audit purposely cuts corners to produce what is often a simple, generic checklist. Not much in the way of cost-benefit analysis specific to YOUR situation.

Vendor-supplied energy audits.
Let's put is this way: If you get an energy audit from a company that installs windows, don't be surprised if their report concludes that your best option for saving money is to buy new windows.

That leaves you with the option of actually paying for an energy audit. This means making an outlay for the time and expertise that it takes to thoroughly diagnose your home's building envelope and appliance functionality. It means paying for a report that provides a cost-benefit analysis of specific improvements for your home.

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