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Can You Really Afford NOT to do the Improvements?

One of the biggest decisions homeowners have to make after an energy audit is whether or not to spend the money to complete the recommended improvements.  While some companies offer auditing only, Efficient Energy Solutions, LLC is a full service auditing company that offers both auditing and contracting services.  One of the biggest challenges is the homeowner that is on the fence about spending the money to actually make the improvements that are suggested to them.  Convincing a homeowner that it is in their best interest to make the improvements without sounding like a salesman can be a real challenge.

When a homeowner calls me, it is usually because they are having comfort or energy consumption issues in their home that have become enough of a problem to take action about them.  Like a doctor for your home, I determine the specific problems with the home and then offer a cost effective plan to fix those problems.  Because the highest ticket items are usually lower on the list of importance, you would think that the homeowners would be more than happy to spend the money, especially if it specifically addresses their problems.  That said, the current economy has tightened the purse strings on even the most willing purchasers today. 

So now the question for homeowners is, “Should I spend the money or not?” I counter that question with one you should really be asking.  “How much more will it cost me to heat or cool my home if I wait versus doing the improvements now?”  There are several factors to keep in mind when asking this question.

  1. The improvements made are permanent and will contribute to your home’s comfort and energy efficiency from day one.
  2. Because the improvements are permanent, they will contribute the most in both the peak heating and cooling seasons.
  3. Even if the percentage improvements are conservative, they will start to pay for themselves from day one.
  4. Utility costs usually go up, not down.
  5. There are several financing options available to homeowners.

A good example of this comes from a recent audit I performed.  The homeowner’s utility bills (electric + gas) from the previous winter averaged about $600 a month or $1800 for the three month period.  The issues in this particular home were pretty simple, the house needed air sealing, duct sealing, and some additional insulation.  The cost for the improvements was $1200.  Let’s say the improvements lowered the utility bills by a conservative 20%.  That’s a savings of $360 for the three month period with a payback of three and a half winters.  That’s not even taking into consideration the savings during the summer months when its 90 plus for about three months here in Atlanta.  So basically we are talking about a payback of just over two years.  From that point forward the savings are gravy.  Also keep in mind that the most common motivating factor for the call to the auditor was a comfort issue in the first place, making the energy savings a nice bonus.

Remember, the main reason for calling on an energy auditor is to get an unbiased expert opinion on what your home’s specific problems are and the most cost effective ways to dealing with those issues.  Dealing with a company that offers both auditing and the actual improvements has its advantages mainly because that company can guarantee the improvements are done to the exact specifications of the audit.  When it comes down to it, the choice always belongs to the homeowner.  We provide homeowners both auditing with contracting and auditing only, whatever makes them happy.  So when that auditor hands you that list of improvements, ask yourself “Can I really afford NOT to do the improvements?”


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