This periodic sponsored Q&A column is written by Adam Gallegos of Arlington-based real estate firm Arbour Realty. Please submit follow-up questions in the comments section or via email.
Question: I own an older Arlington home with fairly high utility bills (in my opinion), do you think a home energy audit is a good investment?
I think that you will find a good home energy audit to be well worth the investment. I personally own an Arlington home that is about 6 years old and an energy audit discovered a valuable list of improvements for us to make. I’m happy to report that most were accomplished for little to no money.
Our energy audit cost $400, but has saved us many times that amount of money on gas and electric usage. In fact, I wrote an article earlier this year about how Dominion Power had accidentally switched our account with my neighbor, who owns the exact same house. Once the administrative mess was cleaned up, we were credited almost $1200 for the lower energy consumption of our house.
I spoke with Chris Conway, one of the area’s leading home energy auditors. He confirmed that most improvements are very low cost with a resulting 5%-30% savings on energy bills.
Chris explains that his audits typically include a blower door test and thermographic scan of the home, but the most important benefit of a home energy audit is the homeowner education. He teaches you how to achieve a tight building envelope for a long term return on investment. According to the Department of Energy, 54% of your total energy bill comes from heating and cooling. With the right information you are empowered to make decisions that will provide the biggest bang for your buck.
Though I would recommend a home energy audit for most homes regardless of age, older homes tend to have the most room for improvement. A blower door test will reveal exactly how much conditioned air your home is leaking per hour. In older homes, this is sometimes equivalent to leaving a window or door open 24×7.
Chris recommends an energy audit for anyone interested in making home improvements, improving air quality, saving money on energy bills, increasing comfort, mitigating moisture problems, or reducing your carbon footprint. During our conversation he mentioned a startling fact that recent EPA data states 1 in 5 families have a member with respiratory problems and a typical home can actually have up to 3 to 4 times more contaminants on the inside compared to the outside. A simple home energy audit can address these types of environmental issues.
There are more than a few home energy auditors to choose from in the Arlington area. I spoke to at least half a dozen before choosing someone for my own home. I was curious about their background, education, track-record, equipment, references and philosophies. I also wanted a sense that they would spend time educating me about my home. Feel free to contact me for a list of the local home energy auditors I would recommend.
The cost for a professional home energy audit can range from $150-$600 depending on the depth of the audit and the size of your home. If you are worried about the cost, you can look out for promotions from companies like Everblue and Dominion Power. State funded programs have also existed from time to time.
My final piece of advice is to make a list of any issues you are having, such as rooms that are notoriously drafty, cold, warm or damp. These insights will help the auditor identify the best solutions for your home.
The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
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Please join us on Saturday, June 3, from 2 to 4 pm for the Glencarlyn Home Tour in Arlington’s historic Glencarlyn neighborhood. Among the featured homes will be a sparkling new home by A&N Builders at 5604-4th St. South. The inviting front porch opens to a light-filled space featuring high ceiling, wood floors, gas fireplace, Pella windows, Shrock cabinets, Quartz countertop, and JennAir appliances. Doors from the family room open to a large covered porch with a few steps to the level, landscaped rear yard. Upstairs, there are four bedrooms, three bathrooms, laundry room, and linen storage. The big lower level has a rec room, gym space, and a fifth bedroom and bathroom plus even more storage. After leaving the home, stroll to the Ball-Sellers home, the oldest residence in Arlington, the community gardens at the library, Carlin Hall, and the 94 acre Glencarlyn Park. A lovely way to while away a late spring afternoon.
Is home ownership a goal of yours in 2023? Now is the time to make it happen! Grab a (virtual) drink with the area’s top Real Estate experts, learn all about the home buying process and on how you can get $1,500 towards your closing costs immediately!
Did you know the average Arlington renter will spend $150K in 5 years of renting? Stop paying down someone else’s mortgage! Join us for a Rent vs. Buy Happy Hour on Wednesday, June 7th at 6 p.m. via Zoom. If this time doesn’t work, we also are offering times convenient for your schedule!
A lot has happened in the local market since the beginning of the pandemic. Sip on your drink of choice and learn from Northern Virginia, Arlington and Washingtonian Magazines top producing agents! We will discuss the latest market updates, the home buying process and rent vs. buy cost savings. Please RSVP by clicking here.
Call/text Manavi at 703-869-6698 with any questions!
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