Educational Consumer Tips
Better Business Bureau
Category: Home Improvement
“Energy Audit” is a rather loose term left undefined by many companies in the industry. Other terms used include “Energy Evaluation”, “Home Energy Assessment”, and “Home Energy Consultation”. There are big differences between these options and BBB encourages consumers to educate themselves before being solicited by a company that may provide misleading information.
Local utility companies and government agencies have worked to define an “Energy Audit” as a comprehensive evaluation of how a home uses energy. This Audit should only be performed by a BPI (Building Performance Institute) credentialed contractor, or RESNET Home Energy Professional. The cost of an Energy Audit can vary based on the size of your home and whether or not local utilities sponsor specific programs. The Energy Audit is usually not free and can take several hours to perform. More important, an Energy Audit provides consumers with a customized assessment report of the energy usage in their home and recommendations specific to the needs of the home.
An Energy Audit includes (but is not limited to):
• A Home owner interview to identify primary concerns and goals.
• Check for ceiling and wall leaks using diagnostic equipment (blower door testing) by the contractor
• Check for leaks in the AC duct system
• Check insulation levels in the attic
• Combustion safety tests
• HVAC (Air conditioning) testing
• General survey of lighting and appliances
• Customized assessment report of the energy use in the home and recommendation specific to the need of your home
Ask the company offering the Energy Audit to provide you with a copy of their BPI certification or RESNET credentials prior to their arrival. After reviewing recommendations with the contractor, customers may be presented with a proposal. Make sure the proposal is itemized with labor and material for the work that will be completed. Confirm utility rebates with your utility company and contact a tax advisor regarding federal or state tax credits. Consumers can also go to www.dsire.org or www.energystar.gov for more information on tax credits. Be aware that tax credits only apply to specific technologies.
BBB encourages consumers to be cautious when companies call you unsolicited. A well-promoted, professionally run company generally generates its own business and usually does not “cold call” because it doesn’t need to do so. Beware of Energy savings claims such as “will lower your utility bill by 40%” or “savings up to 50% on your electric and gas”. Consumers should be aware that utility companies have informed BBB that they do not cold call or telemarket their energy audit programs. Anyone claiming to be the utility is likely misrepresenting themselves. While making solar upgrades can save you money on your bill, your bill comes from multiple sources. Consumers may want to consider lower or no cost ways to save energy first and and may want to call their utility company to find out energy savings ideas and options.
For more information on an APS Energy Audit, contractor referrals or general questions, please call 1.877.850.8358 or go to aps.com/checkup. For more information on an SRP Energy Audit, contractor referrals or general questions, please contact 602.889 .2656 or go to savewithsrp.com. For more information on available Southwest Gas energy efficiency rebates, please go to www.swgasliving.com/efficiency/az or call 1.800.654.2765.
For consumers that had an experience with a company offering an Energy Audit and would like to file a complaint, go to www.bbb.org.