See more photos with this story online. Austin Inspectors Exchange, said the audits help make buyers aware of the bottom-line costs of the home. A $200 audit, he said, can save a homeowner that much in the first three months if certain repairs are made.
“A buyer might care if the A/C is pumping air into the attic,” said Meyerdirk, whose firm is an Austin-based residential and commercial inspection company that also performs energy audits.
He said the audits can reveal problems that home inspections won’t. Duct testing, which isn’t covered in a home inspection, is the main part of the energy audit, he said.
The recommendations might consist of adding more return air to the A/C unit or putting in solar screens. An inspection would note only if there are such screens and whether they are damaged, he said.
For Meyerdirk, the ordinance’s success has been that 95 percent of the houses his firm audits revealed duct leakage in excess of the city’s maximum 10 percent guideline. For the most part, those repairs can be made for $400 to $800, “and the returns can be seen within the first year,” he said.
Holly Everett had an audit done before recently selling a 37-year-old home she bought 11 years ago on Parkfield Drive in North Austin.
“The energy audit helped confirm my thoughts about the house being very energy efficient,” Everett said. “The auditor had many ideas about ways of saving money that I had never considered, plus he had lots of information about new products that can help further reduce my carbon footprint.”
Everett said she has reaped the benefits of work done by the home’s previous owner, who had an audit done long before the 2009 ordinance and made changes that included adding solar screens, extra insulation and a digital thermostat. Everett said she paid $40 to $90 a month less in home energy bills than friends with comparable houses.
Meyerdirk said the only downside he’s found is that so few audits are being done — he estimates that only half of the homes sold in any given month might qualify for the audit — so any energy savings as a result of people making upgrades is “a drop in the bucket.”
Still, there are advantages to the audits beyond energy savings, auditors say.
“The bottom line is that the very same measures that we do to a home to improve its energy efficiency often also