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Get ready for the hot Arizona summers with an energy audit

Worried about what your power bills will be like this summer? Do you have one room in your house that’s always hotter or colder than the rest of the house? Or are you thinking about buying a new AC plus furnace system? And what would a system cost anyway? And do you really need it?

If you have questions like that, you can probably benefit from a whole house energy audit that will look at your possible problems – like leaky ducts and inadequate insulation — and suggest upgrades that may help you save money in the long run.

Two of Arizona’s biggest power companies – APS (Arizona Public Service) and SRP (Salt River Project) – will actually help you schedule an audit for $99. This is an audit that could probably cost about $300 to $500, according to the U.S. Energy Department. The utilities may refer you to contractors who will do the audits. These experts are certified in analyzing home energy efficiency. Even if you don’t live in the service area of these companies, you can schedule an audit from a local contractor. But be sure to check out the contractor’s background carefully.

Here is what an audit might do for you:

1 – It can tell you if your HVAC system is running correctly or needs maintenance or repairs.

2 – It can pinpoint insulation failures in your attic or other parts of your home.

3 – It can find out if your HVAC ducts are well sealed and properly sized and connected to your AC and furnace.

4 – It can find leaks in windows and doors.

5 – It can help assess whether you need a new air conditioner, for example, or whether you should just put sun screens on windows on the sunny side of your house.

Among several tests auditors should do:

• A whole house blower door test with a fan mounted into the frame of an exterior door. The fan pulls air out of the house, lowering the air pressure inside. Then the auditor uses another device to detect air leaks throughout a home.

• A pressure pan or duct blaster test to identify leaks in ducts for heating and air conditioning systems.

• Thermal imaging with a camera that can detect insulation and thermal envelope failures.

• Just because the auditor suggests jobs to do on your house doesn’t mean you have to move ahead with these jobs.

Even if someone gives you an estimate for repairs or replacement, get estimates from other contractors before hiring anyone. Whomever you hire to work on your house should be licensed, insured and registered with the Arizona Registrar of Contractors.

The good news is that many upgrades that you do may qualify you for a rebate from your utility company. Just be sure to check out all the possibilities and rules and regulations with your power company first.

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