Does your power bill seem higher than it should (in both the summer and winter)? Do you notice drafts and energy loss as you walk by your doors and windows in the winter or extreme heat as you walk by them in the summer?
Doors and windows can have a great impact on a home’s power consumption, so it’s important to ensure you have the most optimal doors and windows to save on your power bill.
Obtaining an Energy Audit
While drafts and hot spots may seem obvious, there are industry professionals who actually conduct home audits to determine how efficient your home is when it comes to heating and cooling losses. These audits are designed to assess your home’s power usage, what is working and not working when it comes to saving power, and areas of weakness that might be causing your home to use more power than necessary.
The audits usually take two to six hours and include a number of tests that evaluate ways you can save power in your home. The goal is to help you save money long-term. Some utility companies offer this service, while some contractors also can do the audits. Some door and window companies even offer this service as a benefit to their customers.
Beyond Doors and Windows
Audits don’t only look at doors and windows, however. They also look at a home’s heating and air unit, insulation, duct work, and more. Auditors look for any way that your house might be working inefficiently—costing you more in power bills.
While there are door and window companies that offer audits, there are safeguards in place to ensure that to help ensure that any company, window or otherwise, doesn’t mislead the consumer to purchase a product that is not necessary to reducing use. These come through federal programs such as the DOE’s Home Energy Score pilot program and the Home Performance with Energy Star program (also managed by the DOE).
Additionally, home audits are rooted in data and testing, so the testing will show clearly whether your doors and windows are allowing air leakage, or if there is another issue.Get an Estimate
Other Benefits of Energy Audits
Even government organizations have taken an interest in saving energy through audits. While the DOE’s Energy Star has long certified products that are the most efficient (including doors, windows, refrigerators, dishwashers and more) some states have gotten involved as well and are encouraging the public to get their homes checked for efficiency.
For example, New York state has an organization called the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). The NYSERDA offers homeowners 10-percent rebates on improvements undertaken. Additionally, the state has enacted a law that mandates that the large utility companies in New York to offer customers the ability to finance retrofits through loans paid back on customers’ utility bills. The legislation delegated much of the implementation to NYSERDA.
Other states, including California, offer various rebates via utility companies as well. You will want to check your state’s laws to see what types of rebates and assistance are available there.
What to Look For
When you’re choosing an audit company, you will want to look for a few particular certifications to ensure they’ve done their homework. Both the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) and the Building Performance Institute (BPI) offer audit certifications. When selecting an auditor, it’s important to ask for documentation that the companies you’re considering have obtained these certifications.
Under the RESNET program, audit candidates must pass a national online test and perform five ratings under the supervision of a certified RESNET home rater. “Only then can the home energy rater candidate be certified by a RESNET accredited rating provider,” according to its website.
BPI tests and certifies technicians through both written and in-person exams. BPI-certified auditors use the group’s “house-as-a-system” approach to reviewing the home’s energy usage.
Choosing Energy-Efficient Doors and Windows
If an audit determines that your doors and/or windows are a source of energy loss and replacing them could save your family money over the long term, you will want to look for doors and/or windows that are Energy Star-rated. Energy Star products are “independently certified to save energy without sacrificing features or functionality,” according to Energy Star’s website. (The same goes for other systems that might need repaired or replaced as a result of the audit. Energy Star also rates appliances, heating and cooling systems, roofing systems, insulation and more.)