Should You Get an HVAC Energy Audit For Your Home?

HVAC technician performing gas heater check

The pain of having your air conditioner burn out on the hottest day of the year, or seeing heating bills skyrocket thanks to an inefficient HVAC, are ones that some homeowners know all too well. Thankfully, there are ways to make your HVAC more efficient, but they aren’t always obvious. That’s where an HVAC energy audit comes in. Read below to learn more about whether you should get an HVAC energy audit for your home and what it can do for you.

What Is an HVAC Energy Audit?

An HVAC energy audit is fairly self-explanatory. A professional will do a walkthrough of your entire home, particularly your heating and cooling system, to determine your HVAC’s energy use, how you can lower it, and how it can be made more efficient. It’s different from a general home energy audit, which examines all of your home’s systems.

A professional energy audit examines things like how much insulation your home has, the strength of your heater and air conditioner, and how many air leaks you have. There are different levels of audits, from 1 to 3, each more involved and detailed than the last. Most homeowners will never need Level 3 unless they’re planning a remodel.

Why Would You Get an HVAC Energy Audit?

There are several reasons why you would get an HVAC audit done. Here are a few benefits of an HVAC energy audit:

Save Money

Energy efficient house audit
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The more efficient your HVAC system is, the less energy it uses. By getting an energy audit and utilizing strategies to reduce your energy use, you stand to save on your monthly utility bill.

Longer HVAC Lifespan

Better HVAC efficiency means that your system doesn’t work as hard, which will reduce the strain on it and extend its lifespan. Using the strategies an energy audit gives you can extend the amount of time before you have to replace parts of your system or the system as a whole.

Less Chance of Breakdowns

The more strain that an HVAC is under, and the harder it works, the more chance of it breaking down or failing. By increasing the efficiency of your HVAC system, you reduce the risk of that happening. A breakdown can happen at any time, but you’re particularly susceptible in an extreme weather scenario, whether it’s high heat or cold or severe weather conditions, such as a heavy rainstorm, flood, or hurricane.

Home Value

An HVAC energy audit can increase the total value of your home if you get an HERS certification, or Home Energy Rating System. It states that your home’s heating and cooling system is efficient, which is attractive to prospective home buyers.

Find Issues

Over the course of your HVAC energy audit, the auditor may discover issues that you didn’t know you had. This includes holes in your ductworks, mold, or other problems that are negatively affecting your home and HVAC.

Increased Comfort Level

Couple enjoying the cold air of the AC
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Making your HVAC more efficient means that it will have an easier time bringing your home’s temperature to your desired level and keeping it there. If you notice that the temperature in your home is slow to change, an HVAC energy audit could be just what you need.

Better Health and Safety

An HVAC energy audit can catch serious safety issues, such as faulty wiring, or incorrectly-installed systems that can lead to carbon monoxide leaks, and make sure that the indoor air quality in your home stays up.

Less Emissions

Reducing your home’s HVAC energy use with the strategies suggested after an audit means that you’ll be producing less harmful emissions. An energy audit could be of help if you’re looking to reduce your carbon footprint.

Tax Credits

There are many tax credits available through the Department of Energy and Energy Star as incentive for homeowners to get energy-efficient upgrades and to have energy-efficient homes.

What an HVAC Energy Audit Tells You

Once the audit is complete, your HVAC professional will provide you with information about what your suggested next steps are and how you can make your home’s HVAC more efficient. Here’s a short list of the things you can expect:

  • An estimate of your HVAC system’s operational efficiency and energy consumption
  • Suggestions on how to improve your HVAC system’s overall efficiency
  • Replacement suggestions for anything that needs to be/should be replaced
  • Estimations of the cost and benefit of the measures suggested

Steps of an HVAC Energy Audit

If you do get an HVAC energy audit done, your professional will go through a step-by-step audit process. The order may vary, but they’ll still likely do the same things. Here are the usual steps of an HVAC energy audit:

Examine Air Filters

Changing furnace air filter
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The HVAC professional will examine your air filters to make sure they’re not clogged and that there’s no blockages. They may also tell you if you’re using the right kind of air filter or which one is best for you.

Check Thermostat Setting

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Your auditor will ask you about your thermostat settings and may make a suggestion as to what to set it to for minimal energy usage.

Examine Ductworks

Man checking ductwork
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The professional will examine your duct system to make sure there’s no leaks, kinks, or other problems that you need to address.

Examine Insulation

Man checking insulation
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Your HVAC professional will determine the level of insulation in your home and whether or not you need to alter it to prevent energy loss.

Find Closed Spaces

The HVAC auditor will examine your house for spaces that are closed off from the rest of the ventilation system, which can lead to the buildup of harmful gasses, such as carbon monoxide.

Check for Leaks

As part of the audit process, your auditor will look for air leakage in your home. They typically check with the blower door test, but they may also use other methods.

Check Wiring

Finally, your energy auditor will examine your HVAC system’s wiring and see if any of it needs repairs or replacements. This step is highly important, as faulty wiring can easily lead to a fire.

What to Do After an HVAC Energy Audit

Once your HVAC energy audit is done, it’s time to implement the home improvements your auditor has recommended. Some, such as weatherstripping, sealing cracks, and making repairs, will be obvious choices. However, you may feel that certain upgrades aren’t worth the trouble or expense, such as replacing your heater with a heat pump, and you’re free to skip them.

Regardless of the extent of your changes after your audit, you should hopefully see a difference in your HVAC system and your monthly utility bills once you make the recommended improvements.

Is an HVAC Energy Audit Worth It?

An HVAC energy audit can certainly be worth the time, money, and hassle involved. If you want to lower your energy bills, extend the lifespan of your HVAC, or just find a problem you can’t identify, they’re a great place to start. The cost will vary depending on the company you hire, the level of your audit, and many other factors. Depending on how high your energy savings are, you should earn the money back fairly quickly.

FAQ About HVAC Energy Audits

How much money can an HVAC energy audit save me?

How much you stand to save by implementing procedures recommended after an HVAC energy audit depends on your household. The more energy you were using before, and the less you use after, the more you’ll save. In addition, you may be able to get a rebate for the audit, and some utility companies offer them for free, which will reduce the initial cost.

What is the blower door test?

The blower door test is a common test used during the process of an HVAC energy audit. The auditor will use a special fan called a blower door to pull the air out of your home and lower the air pressure. This process allows the auditor to find hidden leaks and gaps where air is escaping by using an infrared camera.

Can I DIY my HVAC energy audit?

You can DIY your HVAC energy audit, but it will be more difficult than hiring a pro. You need to know how to find gaps where air is escaping your home, and do it without the specialized equipment a professional auditor would use. You also need to determine other areas you can increase your HVAC’s efficiency, as well as do your research and find out how to do so. It may be better if you hire a professional, instead.

Audit Your HVAC

An energy audit for your home’s HVAC system can give you the tools you need to improve the efficiency of your heating and air conditioning system. If you want to save money and extend the life of your system, it could be right for you.

If you want to get an HVAC audit or have other heating and cooling needs, contact your local HVAC professionals. They can help you keep your HVAC system in good condition so that your indoor air stays clean and comfortable.

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Austin Geiger

Austin Geiger is a writer who's passionate about home care. He enjoys writing about home maintenance practices, as well as projects to turn an outdoor space into a backyard paradise.