Electric Bills Increase 4-fold after Energy Audit


Yes, it was cold. But when bills increase by this much, even after home energy checks, it is frustrating for home owners. Like I have said in the past, home energy audits may save energy, but will never save you any money. This area of homes are all newer than 10 years of age. I have done several inspections in this area, and most of these homes are around 2,400 sq. ft. two-story homes. KCPL rates here are up 6% in one year.

Your making it sound like the audit cause the increase in the bills. This is not the case. The country has had very cold winters this year and last year. The colder it gets the more heating degree days and the usage will go up. I bet they are using electric heat and don’t realize it. I have done a few hundred evaluations on homes. Peoples bills change all the time due to behavioral and blame it on something else. I was called to a home recently with a $1700 bill. It wasn’t the house that was the problem it was heating the uncovered pool in the winter that was the problem, another one started using the gas fireplace to heat the house and the gas bill doubled. These are easy finds but we see it on retrofitted homes all the time. I will be doing a HERS Rating today on a home that was a referral from another person that did a rating and a large retrofit. We save money all the time. In fact an Energy Efficient Mortgage requires proof of this.

IMO, home energy audits are a scam. Yes, I give free energy saving tips to all of my clients, which some home owners who hire audit companies, have to pay for. Most of these tips are free, and no-brainers. Some are InterNACHI articles.

My personal home, which I built, has Anderson energy windows, high insulation in walls and attic, south facing large windows, heat pump, etc. My bills go up every year. Yes, perhaps your client who pays for this “energy audit” may save some money the first year or two, but utility companies need to make a profit. Use less energy, all they do is raise the rates. They know how much energy every home uses. Use less, raise the rate of that home. Simple.

As more people save energy, rates will increase, so utility companies keep their stock prices and dividends up. IMO, this gives our clients a false sense of NACHI services in the energy audit field.

I had a home energy audit done a few years ago and feel money well spent .
Our Home is very good built 1987 with a few minor improvement’s tested at 78 .
we have electric base board heating .
On his advice we added a MR.Slim heat pump and it does about 90+++ of our heating and now our air conditioning .
Very satisfied ](http://www.highseer.com/16-seer-inverter-mini-split-ductless.html)http://www.highseer.com/ductless-mini-split-heat-pump-wyb018gm9-151.html ours is 21 seer

Agree. Newer R-410-A A/C units are very efficient. Heat pumps with this newer Freon are even better. Heat pumps are the way to go in any new construction. You have to watch the temps, however, as some units run constantly at temps under 20 degrees, and actually become energy inefficient. Back-up gas 90% furnaces then kick-in to assist.

Inspectors should remember that any 90% system or heat pump thermostat settings should not be varied due to long re-heating times when homes get cooler inside when people are away. Program-able thermostats should not be used, IMO. Set the temps, and leave them there. Newer 12-volt fan/furnaces that run constantly are also nice, and can save energy.


I agree and disagree with the scam comment. The problem with that entire industry is that the bad companies that are looking to sell RB, windows/doors, etc and use it as a marketing tool and sometimes an out right scam get all the press. They shed a bad light on the industry.

A competent HERS rater is well worth the money almost always.

The scam is believing your Anderson windows are saving you more energy than another window. The FTC busted the 3 biggest window manufactures for false claims. South facing windows are great when the suns out I hope you have a slab or a Thrombe wall to release that heat in the evenings when the windows are letting the heat out of the building. Want to give people free advice. Hire a good Rater to come in a properly evaluate the home. It’s more than energy savings. It’s comfort, durability, and health that we address when making recommendations after an Audit.

If you are saying because they run all the time they become inefficient, this is not the case.

Also explain why they run all the time (It’s not because it’s 20F).

What is wrong with you that’s CMI talk don’t you know anything:p

Sorry, I stumble onto the Florida “Residents Only” section not realizing where the heck I am and forget to speak the correct (approved) language. I have Texas down though!

Kind of like you trying to talk Missouri! :wink:

A home energy audit when done correctly is not a scam. It works and will save you tons of money, if you correct the issues found.

My personal house is a case in point. The house was built in 1901 a city row house, rehabbed 12 years ago by a not so good contractor, looked pretty, but no thought to energy concerns.

I did my own audit and then corrected the following:

10 seer A\c with a 80% gas furnace was replaced with an 18 SEER multi stage HP w\ 95%+gas furnace backup heat. - Two stage cooling and 3 Stages of heat. w\ Communicating T’sat

Took all the fiberglass batt insulation out of the attic. Vacuumed the space clean and closed all air leaks (had a 12 by 18 chase wide open from attic to crawl space- had a toilet double wet wall open all the way to the first floor- every top plate penetration was unsealed - EVERY one of them).

Sprayed 2- 600 board foot kits of Closed Cell Polyurethane Foam Insulation - R-7 Per Inch - added 10" of blown in cellulose insulation - weather stripped windows and doors.

Added interior storms (no exterior alterations allowed in our historic district). Found and sealed air leaks around building shell penetrations

I tracked prior 3 years of bills correcting for heating and cooling degree days.
I had 2 July’s with very similar total cooling degree days . The actual electric usage went from 3300KWH to 1600KWH in those months. We saved 52% in one month. We were on a gas bill budgeting plan and after a cold winter I called and complained that we had over $800 in credit going into the spring. That’s what we saved the first year .We switched to actual billing and the monthly gas cost in the winter was about the cost of the old budget plan that we used to pay 12 months of the year.

When we did this I used the tax credits to offset a huge part of the work. Our pay back was quick. The bonus is that as energy prices increase we are at 50% of our old usage, so a rate increase is based on half the old usage per month .

I now have a tight, quiet, clean, comfortable house that saves me money every month.
Before the tax credits expire in 2014 solar will be on the house saving even more.

So are energy audits bogus, maybe if a crook does them. But you can get real dramatic results if you can afford to implement the recommendations of an energy audit.


John Meara
(retired engineer - IAQ & Energy consultant )

PS - Even the best of us mess up. I didn’t downsize the HP tonnage enough. I had issues with humidity control in the summer, due to short run times of the unit (never kicked into high stage until it got over 100 degrees) - Terrible short cycling …arrgghhh…

My insulation and sealing was way better than I calculated in my load calcs. Had to add Added a whole house dehumidifier to fix the issue but that also gave me enough outside air to make my CO2 reading better.

oversize your heatpump can be good for winter provided it runs at high speed in the heat mode. But if you overize it for a/c it can be problematic. You state it never kicks into high until it is over 100, if so you shouldn’t be short cycling on low unless you really screwed the pooch(like doubled the tonnage you need). Why add the whole house dehumidifier? You have other options. Slow the blower fan down a bit, drop it from 400cfm to 350cfm. Some manufacturese add a blower speed control which is controlled by a humidistat. If RH is high it will slow the blower down, once RH is below setpoint it will ramp the blower back up to speed. You should have a TXV on the evaporator, have an HVAC guy adjust it. If not an adjustable one change it to one that will cause more latent heat to be removed. Instead of a dehumidifier why not add an ERV or HRV this will drop your CO2 levels and will add some extra load on the evaporator, resulting in loger cycles.