How much does it cost to do an energy audit?
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Energy Audit Cost Guide
Updated: August 18, 2022
As people continue to seek out ways to reduce their carbon footprint, an energy audit remains an increasingly popular home service sought by many. These audits are generally performed by utility companies or third-party services and can help many homeowners save money on their utility costs, in addition to reducing their environmental impact.
The national average cost of an energy audit is between $145 and $420. Most people pay around $250 for a level 2 energy audit on a 1,200 sq.ft. home, including a blower test. At the low end of the spectrum is a level 1 energy audit on an 800 sq.ft. home for $80. At the high end is a level-3 energy audit on a 2,600 sq.ft. home using advanced tools and methods for $1,500.
Home Energy Assessment Cost
|Energy Audit Costs|
|National average cost||$250|
What is an Energy Audit?
An energy audit is designed to find any potential losses and possible solutions for those losses in order to reduce your bills and improve your home’s efficiency. This may also be called an energy assessment or study, but the process is the same. This audit gives homeowners the full picture of their house and its deficiencies and offers professional advice from the auditor on how to improve efficiency. The end result will be a savings of between 5% and 30% on your annual costs if you make all of the suggested changes.
Energy Audit Costs per Square Foot
Homeowners should expect to pay between $0.08 to $0.50 per square foot for residential audits. Like many whole-home services, audits are sometimes priced by the square foot, since more area means more work. Some audits will have various pricing tiers for home-size ranges, while others will actually charge a dollar amount per square foot to get an exact cost for each separate home. No materials are used in an audit, so the costs are solely related to labor. Any upgrade or replacement costs are in addition to and separate from the cost of the audit. The audit process takes about 2 to 3 hours, on average, with more extensive audits lasting up to 4 hours or more. Note that it will sometimes take a couple of weeks to schedule one, so you may want to plan ahead if you are trying to meet a deadline for a rebate or incentive program. In the table below are the most common home sizes in the U.S. and their corresponding cost range:
|Home Size||Average Cost|
|1,000 sq.ft.||$80 - $500|
|1,500 sq.ft.||$120 - $750|
|2,000 sq.ft.||$160 - $1,000|
|2,500 sq.ft.||$200 - $1,250|
|3,000 sq.ft.||$240 - $1,500|
Energy Audit Cost by Type
Energy audit costs vary greatly by type. Homeowners can expect to spend between $0.08 and $0.50 per square foot. There are different levels, or types, of audits that can be performed. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, or ASHRAE, has designated three levels of audits to ensure all auditors follow the same procedure. In the table below, are the national average costs for each type of inspection. Below the table, is a more detailed explanation of what each audit includes:
|Level||Cost per Sq.Ft.|
|Level 1||$0.08 - $0.24|
|Level 2||$0.25 - $0.35|
|Level 3||$0.36 - $0.50|
ASHRAE Level 1 Energy Audit
Typically, Level 1 residential audits cost between $0.08 and $0.24 per square foot. A Level 1 audit is also called a walk-through. Reporting and use of testing tools are limited as the auditor walks through a building to evaluate efficiency. These types of audits are usually only recommended for small buildings with low overall energy usage. Utility bills and interviews with property owners are included with this type of audit.
ASHRAE Level 2 Energy Audit
On average, homeowners can expect to spend between $0.25 and $0.35 per square foot for a Level 2 residential audit. Level 2 audits require more analysis and reporting procedures. Equipment pieces are inventoried, with energy usage for each piece evaluated. Improvement costs are projected with a savings analysis of each measure documented. The auditor will look for the highest potential for savings and create long-term savings goals. This type of audit is most often recommended for larger buildings. A Level 2 audit will also include Level 1 procedures.
ASHRAE Level 3 Energy Audit
Homeowners can plan to spend between $0.36 and $0.50 per square foot for Level 3 audits. Level 3 audits are rarely done on residences. These audits are usually reserved for large and complex commercial buildings. A Level 3 audit will have all of the components of a Level 1 and Level 2 audit as well as a detailed analysis performed by the technician. Comprehensive surveys are performed along with hourly HVAC monitoring and analysis. Existing utility bills are reviewed, with sub-metering done by the company. Level 3 audits usually include a PFT air infiltration test, which is a long-term test designed to measure the airtightness of your home and is often recommended as a supplementary upgrade to the blower door test. Your auditor installs an emitter and receiver inside your house that releases and later absorbs a trace of 100% safe, nontoxic gas.
Energy Audit Procedure
You need to do some minimal preparation before your auditor arrives for the inspection. Windows and doors should be closed and latched securely. If any windows or doors are broken, point these out to the auditor ahead of time. Make sure that there is easy access to the attic, basement, and crawl spaces and that nothing is blocking your appliances. Finally, make a list of any concerns you have or things you have noticed, such as drafts.
During the audit process, several things will be done that may incur additional charges. Of course, many of these are lumped into the flat rate or square-footage rate being charged for the audit in the first place. To get an accurate picture of your home’s energy usage, an auditor inspects the elements detailed below. Bear in mind that, regardless of the extent of the work done, your audit should not cost more than 10% of your annual bill.
Speaking of utility bills, the auditor reviews your utility bills for each of the previous 12 months and compares those to the national average costs. Following that, the auditor interviews you to understand better any specific areas of concern you might have. They conduct a visual room-by-room examination, followed by an inspection of the home’s exterior, including the roof and windows. Once the audit has been completed and processed, you receive an audit report. A report should be provided for all audits unless otherwise specified beforehand. This report provides a full breakdown of the audit’s findings, including key areas of concern and recommendations for changes. These recommendations may include adding insulation, upgrading appliances, sealing your home, replacing windows, and much more. Use the report to create a plan that improves your home’s energy efficiency and helps you save money. You can also retain it for your records and submitit for improvement or rebate programs.
Add-ons can cost anywhere from $50 to $3,000 depending on the type of add-on and other factors. While home audits offer invaluable insight and information into energy consumption, they are sometimes not enough. Add-ons provide additional data to help pinpoint problem areas and create a customized path forward to reduce consumption and costs.
|Add-On Type||Service Cost|
|Duct Testing||$50 - $200|
|Blower Door Test||$150 - $450|
|Infrared Imaging||$300 - $500|
|HERS Test||$1,500 - $3,000|
If not included, duct testing costs range from $50 to $200, with cheaper rates when included as part of an audit. This test is performed to check for air leaks and efficiency in the ducts throughout the home. Special tools manipulate air pressure while the system is running to identify leaks, inconsistencies, and other duct issues. This process is not always included, but it is a critical step in making sure the HVAC system is as energy-efficient as possible.
Blower Door Test
Homeowners should expect to spend $150 to $450 for a blower door test. Blower door tests are designed to check the airtightness of your home and identify any leaks. They manipulate air pressure indoors, drawing air through unsealed cracks and openings. This is done by mounting a large fan onto your home's front door. A blower door test can be included in the cost of a standard audit.
Infrared imaging adds about 50% to your audit, with a national average of around $300 to $500 for a limited moisture scan. This is not typically included in a standard energy or heating audit and incurs an additional cost. Infrared imaging equipment shows where heat is escaping, and cold air is entering. Repairing problem areas identified through infrared imaging leads to savings of up to 20% in heating costs.
The average HERS rating cost is $1,500 to $3,000, depending on the size of the home and the extent of testing done. A HERS test, or Home Energy Rating System test, is a procedure devised by the California Energy Commission. This test verifies efficiency and indoor air quality as it relates to the installation of HVAC equipment. However, it can also be used in an audit to satisfy state requirements or identify other potential problem areas.
Energy Efficiency Problems
Solving energy efficiency problems costs between $50 and $12,000 depending on the nature of the problem. These costs are in addition to the cost of the audit. There are several common issues, small and large, around the home that can impact efficiency. These issues are all too common for many homeowners. Often, these problems are identified in an audit, and most are fairly simple to resolve. Below is a list of the most common issues and how they are resolved, along with their costs:
|Inefficient Lighting||$50 - $8,500|
|Inefficient Appliances||$380 - $12,000|
|Air Leaks||$600 - $2,300|
|Inadequate Insulation||$3,000 - $7,000|
Energy-Efficient Home Upgrades
Energy-efficient home upgrades cost $200 to $12,000 depending on the upgrade in question and other factors, such as the size of the home. Once the audit has been completed, you will need to discuss the suggestions and concerns of the auditor. Ask questions and get as many explanations as you can so you can give your home the improvements it needs. Establish what your priorities are and resolve small issues promptly. The following table will show you various improvements that you can make, along with their average costs. And below that, each fix is discussed in detail.
|Smart Thermostat||$200 - $500|
|Weatherstripping||$200 - $600|
|Energy Star Appliances||$380 - $12,000|
|Home Air Sealing||$600 - $2,300|
|Attic Insulation||$2,000 - $3,250|
|Storm Window||$2,000 - $5,000|
|Window Replacement||$3,500 - $10,500|
Smart Thermostat Installation
Installing a smart thermostat costs $200 to $500, according to the national average. Adjusting equipment settings, adding timers, and installing thermostat controls can result in savings of 50%. They allow you to set the temperature from a mobile device and to preset times for heating and cooling periods. As an example, if the home is unoccupied during the day, you can set the air conditioner to 78°F and then schedule a more comfortable temperature before you arrive home.
Typically, weather stripping alone costs $200 to $600, depending on the extent of the work. Weather stripping may be done as a part of a comprehensive air sealing process or on its own. The process involves adding an extra layer of insulation made specifically for sealing cracks and leaks to all of the doors and windows. These are common places where energy inefficiency is high, because weather stripping can wear down over time and require replacement.
Installing Energy Star Certified Appliances
You may spend as little as $380 for a new energy-efficient microwave or more than $12,000 for an Energy Star certified top-of-the-line fridge, so costs vary significantly. The biggest impact on your home’s savings is evaluating the need for new appliances. Replacing old and inefficient equipment and appliances with Energy Star certified products gives you up to 30% in savings. These appliances typically cost about 5% to 10% more than nonrated appliances.
Home Air Sealing
Home air sealing results in savings of as much as $150 per year, and the process costs about $600 to $2,300. Air sealing your home is the best way to improve the efficiency. In this process, a technician will inspect the entire home and identify any cracks, leaks, or other places where air might be leaking.
Many homeowners worry that after air-sealing, their house might be too "tight" to breathe. This concern is based on the old misconception that some drafts and air leaks are necessary for a home to have healthy ventilation. In reality, there's nothing to worry about when your home is tightly sealed. An efficient home is tightly sealed but also has controlled ventilation installations. Relying on air leaks to provide your home's ventilation runs the risk of long-term damage as well as uncontrolled energy waste.
Homeowners can expect the cost of attic insulation to vary by the size of the attic, with an average of $2,000 to $3,500. Insulating the attic is a sure way to save energy. After all, heat rises, and much of the loss in the home goes right out the roof. With proper attic insulation, you can save up to 25% or more on your bills. Replacing insulation also increases the home’s value.
Storm Window Installation
Storm windows typically cost $2,000 to $5,000. Adding storm windows can further increase the efficiency of your home by as much as 33%. Storm windows add an extra barrier to the windows in your home that can accommodate them and are specifically designed to help mitigate energy loss and improve comfort.
Typically, window replacement costs an average of $3,500 to $10,500 per window for standard single-pane double-hung windows without the addition of storm windows. In the event of serious leaks or efficiency losses, new windows might be in order. While installing new windows may involve a variety of costs, it will significantly improve the efficiency of your home.
Additional Considerations and Costs
- Finding an auditor. You shouldn't assume that every advertised service meets professional standards. In fact, many don't. Before choosing an auditor, verify that they are certified by the Building Performance Institute. You can use the BPI's online search tool to check whether or not an auditor is BPI certified.
- Rebates. Check with your local authorities if you are eligible for discounted or free home audits. These audits may not include all of the inspection tasks that standard audits do, such as blower door tests or infrared imaging. Many regional governments and organizations offer rebates on upgrades made after an audit, which can add up to as much as $5,000 for gas-heated homes, and $8,000 for electrically heated homes. There are separate rebates for different upgrades. Maximums may apply. Your energy provider may be able to provide you with a loan of as much as $30,000 to cover efficiency upgrades.
- DIY. You can perform a DIY audit. First, grab your last 12 months of utility bills and enter some basic information about your house into the ENERGY STAR Home Energy Yardstick tool. It will compare your home's efficiency to that of other homes like yours. This online tool also provides suggestions for improvements you can make.
- Travel fees. If you live outside of your chosen auditor's service area, you'll likely be charged a travel fee. Travel fees are completely dependent on the current price of gas, the specific distance between your home and the service area, and the auditor's discretion.
- Commercial vs residential audits. Compared to residential audits, most commercial audits involve an in-depth look at processes. Commercial ones normally look not only at the building as a whole but also focus on the places where the business owner is losing the most money due to wasted energy. Commercial audits rely on the ASHRAE scale, with the majority of buildings needing a Level 2 audit.
- Energy rating vs audit. An energy rating and audit are not the same thing. A rating determines how efficient your home is compared to similar properties. The rating is provided through the HERS (Home Energy Rating System) scoring index. Ratings are used to project utility costs and are most often provided for real estate purposes. Audits pinpoint how a home is wasting it and offer strategies on how to fix the issues.
- EnergyStar certification. EnergyStar certification is the “gold standard” in the U.S. for low energy consumption design. However, it only applies to commercial properties, not to residential homes.
- Other tests. Depending on the results of your energy audit, the auditor may suggest and then perform several additional complementary tests. These can include ambient CO testing to check for carbon monoxide in your home, duct leak testing, worst-case depressurization testing to ensure all combustion appliances are venting correctly, spillage testing to verify smoke/fumes are not being drawn back down the chimney, heating appliance CO tests to check carbon monoxide production from specific appliances, and oven operation testing. Your auditor will discuss which additional tests (if any) are necessary and what information they might reveal.
- How much does it cost to get an energy audit?
An energy audit typically costs around $250 for a standard one with a blower test on a 1,200 square foot home. There are some companies that will perform them free of charge if you purchase their product.
- How do I get an energy audit?
To get an energy audit, you will simply need to contact a third-party auditor. If you aren’t sure who to call, feel free to contact your utility company. They should be able to connect you to the right resources. Some utility companies will even perform it for you.
- What is an energy audit checklist?
The energy audit checklist includes a list of all items that need to be verified for efficiency during the auditing process. This will include things like checking windows and doors, ducts, appliances, and attics or crawl spaces. Depending on the level of inspection, it may be more or less extensive.
- What is the purpose of an energy audit?
An energy audit identifies inefficiencies in the home so that they can be fixed. These inefficiencies result in loss and cost homeowners a lot of money each year. Performing one can result in saving as much as 35% or more on utility costs.
- What is an energy survey?
An energy survey reviews how energy is being used in a building. This can be simple or extensive and may be available in three types: investment, detailed, or walk-through.
- What is air sealing?
Air sealing closes the gaps around windows, doors and stops other air leaks to help prevent energy loss and help homeowners save money.
- What is an electrical energy audit?
An electrical energy audit is an examination of your home with a specific focus on the electrical system and its components in order to find out why you may be losing energy.
The information provided by our cost guides comes from a great variety of sources. For more information, read our Methodology and sources.