Conversation with an Energy Auditor: Kris Simonich
Pro Energy Consultants
What is the biggest overall misconception that homeowners have about energy efficiency?
Many homeowners think that, in order to dramatically improve their efficiency and lower costs, they need to explore cutting edge green technologies. While those technologies are fantastic, energy efficiency starts with how the structure of a home and its systems interact. After all, it's the home where the energy is used...and wasted.
Tell us a little about energy audits. Why are they important? What should homeowners expect?
Pro Energy Consultants use state-of-the-art infrared imaging and blower door testing to determine wasteful energy use in a home or facility. The blower door, installed to a home's front door frame, acts like a giant fan and blows air out of the home, exaggerating the airflow and pressurization of the house and making energy leakage far more detectable. Pro Energy Consultants then uses the latest in infrared technology to scan the structure and systems in the home. This technical testing and equipment gives homeowners a clear picture of exactly where their home is losing energy, and therefore, wasting money. The entire process takes approximately one to three hours. Other than allowing the auditor access to the home, homeowners don't really need to do anything to prepare for an audit.
In your experience, what are homeowners always the most surprised to learn from their energy audit results?
Most homeowners are very happily surprised to learn that many of the repairs that have the biggest impact on energy efficiency are very inexpensive and easy to get done. That is, once you know where they are!
Are there any specific energy efficiency challenges that homeowners in your state or region face?
As a national company, we find that true, ethical energy auditors are constantly battling other companies that are using the energy audit merely as an entry point in order to sell other products or services. A true energy audit should stand on its own and advocate for the homeowner's best interests. Period.
What advice would you give a homeowner who is hesitant to schedule an energy audit because they fear the recommended improvements will be too expensive?
It's very powerful to know what's really wrong in your home. While some of the improvements may be too costly to act on immediately, at least you'll know. Plus, there are always things that can be done inexpensively that will make a noticeable difference.
In that same vein, what's one low-cost weekend project that homeowners can do to make their homes more energy efficient?
It may be out of range of some do-it-yourselfers, but insulating any and all can lights in your ceiling will almost always make a big difference.
Now it's time for some inspiration. Tell us about one of the best home success stories you've seen in your time in this field.
We recently audited two dormitories for a children's not-for-profit in Ohio. Their savings in energy costs after we were done? More than 50%! They're a non-profit trying to improve the lives of disadvantaged children, and they need every last dollar they can save. It was a real "feel good" story for us.