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Energy inspections for home sales

The global conscience regarding the environment has rapidly shifted in recent years, and an interest in saving energy (and money!) is shared by many people in all demographics. Homebuyers in particular are making more energy efficient choices in the search for their next home. As a result, energy inspections for home sales are increasingly an important step in the home selling process.

Energy Audit Checklists

Whether your house is on the market now or selling is only something you're considering, you'll be ahead of the game if your home has undergone an energy audit. A good place to start is our earlier article, "Strategies to Help Save Energy In Your Home." When the weather cools, it's time to look into programmable thermostats, a few touch-ups on your weather stripping, better insulation and new air filters.

In addition to the low-cost tactics noted in our previous article, here are some elements commonly found on energy audit checklists:

  • Age of the heating and cooling system
  • Potential for leaks in ductwork
  • Energy efficiency of water heater, windows and lights

Heating and Cooling System

If your heating and cooling system is more than 15 years old, it's a given that it isn't energy efficient by today's standards. Even if it has been regularly maintained and is functioning properly, it can't compete with the efficiency of newer models.

Replacing your system can be costly, though not having a newer system doesn't necessarily mean it will cost you the sale of your home. But it is something to be aware of when it comes time to negotiate the sale price.

If you're on the fence about selling your home in the near future and are willing to spend a little money, the savings in fuel costs within a few years could exceed the cost of replacing your equipment now. In addition, you would be in compliance with current efficiency ratings when you decide to put out the "for sale" sign. Be sure the replacement has earned the ENERGY STAR designation, conferred through a joint program of the U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that protects the environment.

Potential for Leaks in Ductwork

If you choose to stick with your current heating/cooling system, you can add to its energy efficiency by ensuring your ductwork is properly insulated. If you haven't looked at your ductwork recently (if ever!), now's the time.

Don't be surprised by what you find, especially if yours is an older home. Recently we heard of a situation in which a homeowner looked in the crawlspace and discovered that much of the insulation around the ductwork running the length of the house had been picked through by rodents. Imagine how much it cost to heat that home!

Some minor leaks you can fix DIY with mastic or foil tape. Others, like the situation described above, involve installation of all-new insulation - still doable DIY, but a bigger job to take on. Extensive problem areas will require a professional. Go to ENERGY STAR for tips on selecting a qualified contractor.

Once all the leaks have been sealed and properly insulated, you'll be pleasantly surprised by the savings you'll notice on your energy bill.

Other Features Buyers Consider

Energy inspections for home sales wouldn't be complete without a review of the efficiency of a home's water heater, windows and lights. Of these, gradually replacing your lights with more energy efficient lamps and bulbs is the most cost-conscious. It will also serve to give your home an updated, more attractive look and set the mood as potential buyers do a walk-through. The U.S Department of Energy has great tips when choosing new lighting.

Do we really need to talk more about the importance of sealing leaks and proper insulation? Simply wrapping your water heater tank in high R-value insulation and applying weather stripping and caulking around your windows will increase your home's energy efficiency.

How to Choose an Energy Audit Technician

Following the steps above will surely make your home more energy efficient. But will they be enough when it comes time for energy inspections? For your piece of mind, you can have a certified professional conduct a thorough audit. Besides the obvious benefit of having all your bases covered, you'll also have help after the energy audit analyzing the data. ENERGY STAR, which offers the certification program, has compiled a list of these pros. Choose your state and look for raters in your area.