An energy auditor can help you qualify for government rebates for home improvements.

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What is a Home Energy Audit?

Energy audits can show you where to save money, and qualify you for rebates.
by Viviane Kertész

A home energy audit is a voluntary service that homeowners can have performed on their homes, to learn where they can save money, energy and water. Home energy audits are also referred to as energy assessments or energy evaluations. An energy audit can be done at any time, but is most often performed as a requirement for receiving government rebates. When performed in the course of applying for rebates, home energy audits usually include two different visits—one booked before you undertake your home improvements, and one booked after implementing the improvements but before sending in the paperwork for your rebates. The initial audit is also known as the “D” audit or a pre-retrofit audit, while the “E” audit is the post-retrofit evaluation. Most rebate programs require that the audit be performed by an energy advisor who is certified by the rebate program. Check the rebate program for details.

Why Get An Audit?

Your energy audit will show you which home improvements can save energy and water consumption, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and save money on your home’s utility bills.

What Happens During An Energy Audit?

The initial or “D” audit usually takes 2 to 3 hours. An energy advisor will come to your home and perform a visual inspection of your whole home, from foundation to rooftop. The auditor will measure your insulation, where possible, note the age and efficiency of your heating and cooling system, your appliances, your doors and windows, and your water-using fixtures such as toilets and showerheads. In most cases, the auditor will also perform a blower-door test: This involves sealing a door with a plastic barrier that has a fan built in. The fan blows air out of your house. By measuring the change in air pressure, the test gauges how airtight your home is. This allows the auditor to assign the home an EnerGuide rating and an air-tightness score.

After Your Initial Audit

A couple of weeks later (or in some cases, immediately, if the auditor comes with a mobile computer and printer), you’ll receive a report with a list of recommended improvements. If the audit is part of a rebate program, the list should also indicate what rebates are available to you. The report also shows your home’s airtightness and its EnerGuide efficiency rating. Homes are benchmarked against other homes of a similar size, age and construction.

The “E” Audit

If you're applying for rebates, you may be required to perform a post-retrofit or “E” audit. At this audit, the energy advisor examines the improvements that have been performed on your home, and again measures your airtightness. If the improvements meet the criteria set out by the rebate program, the advisor will certify that the work has been done and will calculate how much you can expect to receive in rebates and grants. In many cases the advisor will prepare and submit the paperwork, too.

Where Can You Get A Home Energy Audit?

If you plan on undertaking an energy audit in conjuction with a rebate program (see a list of the major federal and provincial programs), start with the program guidelines. They may specify the approved energy advisors from which you can choose. Natural Resources Canada also provides a list of energy advisors that you can search by postal code. It may be worth comparing prices of energy advisors, since some may charge mileage, and rates are not always standardized.

Find a list of all the energy- and money-saving programs you're eligible for by searching our database of rebates—those requiring a home energy audit are marked with a letter "A."

See the EcoLiving rebate database to learn what you qualify for in your home province or territory.

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