Energy and its use has become a hot topic in the United States. The energy audit industry first began to take hold as a result of the energy crisis of 1973 when the American public first took notice of their energy consumption habits. A home energy audit is a service where the energy efficiency, safety, comfort and performance of a home is evaluated by a technician using sophisticated equipment to diagnose and recommend the most cost effective solutions improving the entire house. Typically, the home energy audit analyzes the entire residential energy environment. Performed by a certified technician, the audit includes testing on a home’s:
In recent years, the attention to energy consumption has exploded on both a local and national scale as this topic has been brought to the forefront of every current political debate. Throughout the United States, steps have been taken to propel the energy audit industry to the top of the minds of politicians, consumers and businesses.
Many states have passed laws making energy audits a requirement for all home sales. Additionally, other states already require or are considering audits a requirement when applying for incentives. As a result of the popularity of the energy audit market, the National Association of Realtors has recently developed a separate “Green” Multiple Listing Service (MLS) listing. Programs such as these are all turning towards independent third party validation in the form of energy audits and HERS ratings to lend credibility thereby having a significant impact on the number of energy audits performed across the country.
Today, homebuilders must consider energy efficiency in their new home designs in order to remain competitive in the marketplace. As a result of federal and state building code updates, Energy Star qualification is now more attractive to builders. In order to achieve the benefits of Energy Star qualification, builders must have a HERS rating performed. In most cases, a HERS rating will be subcontracted to an Energy Auditor or HERS Rater. Most of the major mortgage lenders now offer energy-efficient or energy improvement mortgages, which allow a mortgage lender to count the monthly energy bill savings produced through a home’s improved energy efficiency as additional income. This increases a buyer’s borrowing capabilities. These energy mortgage programs rely upon a home energy rating performed by a HERS Rater to calculate the savings generated from a home efficiency features.
The government has also increased the need for energy audits through the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA). This allocated five billion dollars to weatherize low-income homes, $4 billion to repair and make more energy efficient public housing, $3.1 billion for the State Energy Program, $2.73 billion in Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants, $454 million to retrofit ramp-ups in energy efficiency, and $20 billion in tax incentives, which include tax credits for the purchase of energy efficient appliances, windows, doors, and insulation. Today, there are several pieces of legislation that have bipartisan support, which will positively affect the energy auditing market.