How much can we expect to pay for an energy audit? Is there some benchmark pricing based on square footage?
We live in the northeast. Our home is approximately 2,300 square feet. It was built in 1981, has electric heat, and is - as far as we know - well insulated.
Energy audit pricing fluctuates broadly based on who is providing the audit and why they are providing it. Basically, there are two options:
- independent raters, who perform audits as a third party for their livelihood, and
- building performance contractors, who perform audits with the intent of discovering energy upgrade work for them to perform (my firm falls into category 2).
Since contractors have the end goal of actual upgrade work, they typically charge a lower price (because they are simply trying to break even on the audit). It is also common for the energy audit fee to be credited towards signed upgrade work. I see prices range from roughly $199-599 depending on the depth of the audit.
Since independent raters need to survive based on audit work alone, and they also typically perform a more comprehensive audit, I'd expect their pricing to range between $299-899 depending on the scope and if they are generating any official ratings (like a HERS Score). Again, the advantage is that they are truly a third party and can provide official ratings.
Both contractors and independent raters can create totally legitimate reports; however, if working with a contractor for your audit, you need to make sure there is solid trust established so you don't feel they are biased towards recommending work that will benefit them financially without directly addressing your goals and what truly needs to be done to create a comfortable, healthy, efficient, durable, and safe home.
If you're considering an independent rater, make sure that whoever you hire has a good relationship with someone who can actually perform the work.
- I have seen it occur many times that an independent rater will be paid to provide a report, but then a contractor will want to be paid again since they don't feel they can trust the rater's report due to liability issues or different testing protocol.
- In other words, make sure a rater has a solid and trusted relationship with one to three BPI Accredited Contractors if you have the intent of doing work.
Lastly, you should certainly check with your local utility or government to see if any programs exist to subsidize the cost of the audit (this is pretty common).
Long answer, I know, but that is what it takes to do things right.
For more information:
Read "I keep hearing that I should get a home energy audit. What should I expect to pay and expect to get?" a Q&A answered by Steve Saunders.