13 May the third party energy audit?
What does “Third Party” mean, and why is it important?
So you are fed up with your high energy bills and the uncomfortable areas in your home, and you have decided that an energy audit would be a good first step in solving your issues. Now what?
There are many companies that offer energy auditing services, so how should you choose your auditor? Your heating and cooling contractor offers an audit, so perhaps that would be a good way to go. There is also the home performance company that will send their auditor/estimator or “energy advisor” to your home. Or, perhaps the insulation company that is offering a “free” audit would be easiest. The answer is none of the above.
When it comes to energy audits, you want a professional with the following qualities:
1. BPI (Building Performance Institute) or RESNET (Residential Energy Services Network) certification.
2. An extensive background in residential construction.
3. The ability to provide you with post audit recommendations that are unbiased and 100% objective.
The only way to achieve all of these criteria is to have a third party energy audit conducted on your home. What does this mean? A third party energy audit is carried out by a company that only does energy audits. Their job is to provide you with a thorough 100% objective analysis of your home, and to provide you with a list of recommendations that will make your home more comfortable and energy efficient. Once the audit report is generated, their job is done (until the retest, but we will get to that). They are always available as an advocate and trusted resource to guide you through the implementation process, but they do not receive any commissions or sales bonuses for measures installed. Their only job is to give you great advice.
Now, if you did not have a third party energy auditor, the next step after the audit is actually quite magical. After completing your energy audit and providing you with a list of recommendations, your energy auditor now turns into a salesman! Who better to sell you all of the improvements that you need, than the person telling you that you need them?! Our question is this: How can someone that makes their living off of selling you energy efficient home improvements provide you with a 100% objective analysis when it comes to your home energy audit?
There is also the matter of the retest. All of our clients have whats called a “test out” audit conducted on their home. After the work is completed and energy efficient measures have been installed, the energy auditor returns to the home to measure its improvement and make sure everything was installed properly. The degree of separation between installer and auditor is perhaps most important at this point in the process. If the same company that air sealed and insulated your home came out to conduct your retest, would they point out any problems during this test? Who knows. It is for this same reason that the EPA mandates that companies that do mold, lead, and asbestos remediation can not also do post remediation testing. They could simply tell you that everything was done correctly when problems still exist. At Green Home Energy we always try to go above and beyond to provide a perfect finished product for our clients. But the fact of the matter is that we are human, and our work is conducted in some not so people-friendly places (like attics and crawl spaces) and mistakes can and have happened. However, in these cases the mistake was caught by the auditor on the retest, and brought to our attention. In the rare occasion that this happens, we are immediately back out to the home to fix the problem at our expense until everything is done correctly. If another company says they never make mistakes, then they and their auditor are lying.
At Green Home Energy, we specialize in providing our clients with custom comprehensive whole home energy efficiency solutions. This is why we do not conduct energy audits. We see a direct conflict of interest when energy auditors are also salesman. We do, however, have a very short list of prescreened third party energy auditors that we refer to our clients. This list is so short in fact, that as of right now we only have two energy auditors that we trust to carry out our audits. Both of these auditors have extensive residential construction experience, they both are BPI certified and have done hundreds of audits in South East Michigan, and most importantly they only do energy audits.
If you are going to invest in your home and install energy efficient improvements, starting out the process with a third party energy audit is the best money you can spend. And as with anything else, with energy audits you get what you pay for. Beware of companies offering free or discounted audits as this usually a way to get their auditor/salesman’s foot in the door, and not a comprehensive audit.
If you have questions about energy audits, or would like us to set up an appointment with one of our third party auditors send us a note, or call 1-855-GREEN-70! Or, check out our video explaining the energy audit below.