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Ask Eli: Home energy audits are worth considering

This regularly scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Arlington resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Video summaries of some articles can be found on YouTube on the Eli Residential channelEnjoy!

Question: I’m staring at another winter with a drafty, chilly house. Do you have any recommendations for ways of identifying the problem areas and prioritizing the solutions?

Answer: I’ve used very few posts to promote a product or service, but in the case of home energy audits I don’t think that most people are familiar with them, and I’ve personally found a ton of value in having them done and have clients who have found a lot of value in them as well.

It can be a worthwhile investment for a range of use cases including those who live in a drafty old house, anybody with a couple of rooms that are unusually hot/cold, or the owner of a new home who wants to quality check the construction and installation of energy-related systems.

Note: I’m not getting anything from the vendor I recommend later in this post, this is a good faith recommendation for something I think more people should consider.

What is a Home Energy Audit?

A home energy audit is a series of tests done on your home to measure its energy efficiency and test the operation of many of your homes core systems including how tight/leaky your home is (via blower door test), the effectiveness of your insulation, how well your heating and cooling systems are working (if they’re drawing enough air, leaky air ducts, etc), the CFM (amount of air being extracted) of your bathroom exhaust fans, gas leaks, areas with elevated moisture, and more.

I pulled some examples of test results from different reports I’ve seen and shared them below.

Examples of infrared results identifying air leaks and cold spots:

Results of the blower door test measuring overall air leakage/tightness of an old home vs a new home:

Example of CFM measurements taken that show improperly installed exhaust fans:

Testing done on all combustion appliances (those that burn gas/fuel) to ensure they’re operating safely:

Testing on heating and cooling systems to measure for static pressure, delta T, and other efficiency measures:

Who, How Much, and a Discount

All of my experience with Home Energy Audits has come working with Brian McKnight at Home Energy Medics and I’ve been very happy with his/their service. For about $500-$900 (price depends on size and age of home), I think it’s a great investment towards learning more about your home and identifying areas of improvement to prioritize.

At risk of this coming off like I’m getting incentivized to post this (I am not), they have a referral program if you use my name and I will happily ask them to apply the $150 referral bonus I would receive as a discount to your service, in addition to the $50 discount you’d get as part of that referral program.

How to Use the Results

Energy/thermal issues can be difficult and expensive to chase without the right information. What seems like an insulation issue, may be better addressed with air sealing. What seems like a dying air conditioner, might be leaky ducts. What seems like a working exhaust fan, may be poorly installed and producing more noise than air extraction. The audit provides you with a ton of specific energy related information that can significantly increase the efficiency and comfort of your home, and quite possibly help you reduce your utility bills.

The report will include a list of recommended work to perform and sometimes, depending on how much work there is, they will bucket the work in terms of “good, better, best” to help you budget and prioritize. Home Energy Medics can do the work, and they do a good job, but you can save money by bidding out work yourself using their recommendations.

If you’d like to discuss buying, selling, investing, or renting, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at [email protected].

If you’d like a question answered in my weekly column or to discuss buying, selling, renting, or investing, please send an email to [email protected]. To read any of my older posts, visit the blog section of my website at Call me directly at (703) 539-2529.

Video summaries of some articles can be found on YouTube on the Eli Residential channel.

Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland with RLAH Real Estate, 4040 N Fairfax Dr #10CA

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