Results of My Online Home Energy Audit

>> Thursday, April 2, 2009

I wrote the other day about different types of energy audits available. Since I live in an apartment, I went with the free online energy audit offered by my power company. Without the blower door test or thermographic scan performed by a professional auditor, and without anyone from the power company actually visiting my home, the results are generic. But they're a good place to start.

Typical Annual Electrical Usage

Space Cooling.....40%
Space Heating.....22%
All other uses.....5%

My Comments:
This table indicates that the best place to focus my efforts in energy efficiency would be in cooling my home.

Your Monthly Electrical Usage

In this section of the report, they created a graph comparing my monthly energy costs and the average temperatures for those months.

My Comments: Since I've only lived here for eight months, it's hard to get a good visualization of my energy usage. But so far, I can tell that I paid the most on energy in August, February, and March.

Savings Summary

Medium Potential Savings

  • Replace your water heater with a solar system ($2,250-$3,350)
Low/Medium Potential Savings
  • Raise cooling temperature when not at home (no cost)
  • Install tinted window film ($2-4 per sq. ft.)
  • Install ceiling fans ($35-$150)
  • Get your cooling system serviced ($40-$75)
  • Use a clock thermostat to control cooling temperatures ($100-$250)
  • Replace old appliances with high-efficiency models ($200-$1,000)
  • Add trees or awnings to shade windows during summer ($500-$2,500)
Low Potential Savings
  • Shade windows with east or west exposure in the summer (no cost)
  • Open shades during the heating season (no cost)
  • Clean refrigerator coils ($no cost)
  • Set your water heater thermostat to 140 degrees (no cost)
  • Wash and rinse laundry in cooler temperature water (no cost)
  • Repair leaking water pipes, faucets, and showers (no cost)
  • Install electrical outlet gaskets ($.15-$.90 each)
  • Change your air conditioner filter monthly ($.50-$8)
  • Insulate the hot water pipes from your water heater ($1-$2 L.F.)
  • Install energy efficient lighting (variable)
  • Fix refrigerator door seals ($55-$85)
  • Install an outside combustion air kit and tight fitting glass doors to your fireplace ($100-$300)
My Comments: One of the questions on the audit was what type of house I live in (apartment, townhouse, single family home, etc.), and I'm curious if I would have received different recommendations if I lived in a different type of home. I expected to see suggestions for adding insulation, sealing air ducts, insulating attics, sealing crawlspaces, replacing windows, etc. But maybe their system recognizes that a person in an apartment wouldn't be able to do those things.

Even so, most of these suggestions are things I have no control over, but at the very least, I can do the "no cost" solutions.

If anyone else has gotten an energy audit from their power company, I'd be interested to hear about your results. Similar to mine, or does your power company do a better job of personalizing their report?


Frank Ladd,  April 2, 2009 at 5:25 PM  

Your survey seems broken. Your bill is the highest in August, February, and March. That means your heating costs are high as well. I think it is great that the power company tries to help with this free service and they do the best they can for free. I'd smoke test all your windows and doors and make sure they don't leak badly. It is easy to do. If you cannot find out how then let me know and I get you instructions. - Frank Ladd

Erin aka Conscious Shopper April 2, 2009 at 10:23 PM  

Frank - Yeah, the audit wasn't all that helpful, but I think it's a good beginning point for someone who doesn't know where to start. I'd definitely be interested in hearing more about the smoke test. You can email me at ena [underscore] peters [at] gmail [dot] com.

Frank Ladd,  April 3, 2009 at 12:06 PM  

Email didn't work try me at

William September 9, 2009 at 11:27 AM  

As an auditor that has been doing this professionally for 8 years (before it was "cool"), the biggest and cheapest impacts are common sense and personal habits. Each home is different. I have modeled 100's of homes and the small things like the duct system type or the direction the home, apt., etc is facing can make a big difference in the order of recommendations and the return on investment you will see. If you don't know where to start, an audit is the way to go! If you talk to an HVAC person, he/she will try to sell you an new system, a window salesman will try to sell you new windows, an auditor will guide you through the woods and stop you from spending money needlessly. If you don't want to spend the money, educate yourself as much as possible so that you do not make a mistake and change habits accordingly.
Thanks for the article!
Bill Klotz

Erin aka Conscious Shopper September 9, 2009 at 9:40 PM  

@William - I toured an energy star home several months ago where I got to watch them conduct a blower door test. Very cool! Might have been your company...Anyway, I definitely agree with you that an auditor would be more trustworthy than an HVAC or window salesman, and I'm sure a professional audit is worth the investment in the long run. If we weren't renting...Thanks for visiting!

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