I recently had not one, but two energy audits done on my house. I’ve mentioned before that Dominion East Ohio is offering audits through their Good Cents program for just $50. Then at the Home & Flower Show, I learned that Dr. Energy Saver will do an audit for free. I had wondered before how the Good Cents audit compared to others, so I decided this was a great opportunity to find out. My research isn’t complete though, since I have not (yet?) had an audit from Green Street Solutions, another local company who is currently charging $250. Even at $250, an audit is a great investment, since it provides you with information that can help you save considerably more than that. Here’s what I’ve found so far.
Both companies were very courteous, and the auditors were very knowledgeable. Both audits took about two and a half hours. Both used a blower door to help identify air leaks. Good Cents actually had two people there, one who asked me about drafts, cold floors, & utility bills, and another who took measurements and helped set things up. One thing I liked about Dr. Energy Saver was that he encouraged me to walk through the house with him during the blower door test so I could feel & see the air leaks for myself, with the help of a smoke stick. The leaks were more evident to me during this audit because Dr. Energy Saver had the fan on the blower door turned up much higher than Good Cents did. They then use a computer to convert the data to the standard 50 Pascals pressurization values. Seeing and feeling the movement of the air was a definite motivator to get these air leaks sealed up! Seeing the recommendations on paper just isn’t the same.
The Good Cents people provided a well organized written report with their findings and recommendations. Dr. Energy Saver did not provide a written report; they concluded their visit with a presentation describing the work they recommended and the costs to have this work done. If you have their complete “core” package of work done, they guarantee the work will pay for itself within 8 years with the energy you save. You would be able to see the improvement in air sealing as soon as the work was completed though, since they re-test the house with the blower door after the work is done. If you do not get the full package, they do not guarantee the return on investment, though I’m pretty certain any of their improvements would pay for themselves in that time frame.
In summary, the Dr. Energy Saver technician seemed more excited about the importance of making energy efficiency improvements, but did not encourage incremental improvements, and provided less documentation for you to follow up on yourself. The GoodCents auditor was professional, but not passionate. This is undoubtedly due at least in part to the fact that Dr. Energy Saver was trying to make a sale, while GoodCents was simply performing a service. I think Dr. Energy Saver might do a more thorough job if you are prepared to make a significant commitment to improving your home’s energy performance and want a “one stop shop”. If you want to make more modest improvements, or do work yourself, GoodCents provides good information on how you can most easily save on energy costs. But without the strong sales pitch, and the wind whistling through those holes in your house as the blower door runs at full speed, you might not have as much motivation to make improvements, and miss out on the chance to save money in the long run.
First published March 20, 2012