Harnessing Home Energy Reports for Better Insights and a Greener Tomorrow

April 22, 2024

In honor of Earth Day, we are excited to introduce a groundbreaking initiative at Inspectify that enhances the home inspection process and contributes to a more sustainable future. At Inspectify, we are proud to announce the integration of Home Energy Reports into our standard home inspection services to provide valuable insights into the efficiency of your home.

Our theory and goal behind Home Energy Reports

The average home inspection gathers most of the data needed to produce a home energy audit but not all of it. Typically, to gain this type of insight into efficiency, an energy assessor is hired to assess the home and create a report independently of the home inspection. As the world shifts toward a greener future, these energy reports become required for homes purchased or rented in certain cities and states.

So, we started thinking about what Inspectify could do to help. By tweaking the inspection scope and integrating with energy-focused partners, could we produce an accurate home energy report without requiring an additional assessor?

To achieve this goal, we’ve collaborated with Joule and the Department of Energy (DOE) HES Scoring Tool to leverage the wealth of data collected during a routine home inspection. Specifically, we added a few extra questions to our standard home inspection template, such as whether the ceilings were 8', 10', or 12'+ high. The answer then gives us the volume of the conditioned space on each floor for heating/cooling calculations, which, combined with the appliance data for the HVAC equipment, gets us within striking distance of the data needed to produce an accurate home energy report.

Testing the theory and evaluating the results

Knowing that the typical home inspector is not a trained home energy assessor, we decided to test our new inspection scope and template by sending a DOE-certified home energy assessor to follow up on a dozen home inspections and compare the results of the home energy reports produced from data collected by the home inspectors with those of the energy assessors. 

The results? The results were extremely promising.

We compared three specific aspects:

  1. The estimated fuel (electricity, gas, etc.) consumption of the home
  2. The estimated energy costs from that usage
  3. Recommendations for increasing the home’s efficiency

Of the first two metrics, all were within 16%, with an average difference of only 6%. Our goal was to be within 20% of the energy assessors, so this exceeded our expectations! The third metric, recommended improvements, was the same as the certified assessor's. This included recommendations such as more insulation, updated windows, and replacing gas furnaces and/or AC units with a heat pump at the end of their useful life.

Interpreting the results

In the energy efficiency space, the experts discuss "modeled" vs. "measured" approaches. Measured quite literally means measuring energy usage over a year, making improvements, and then measuring the results of those improvements for an additional year.

Given that the measured approach is obviously time-consuming, modeling makes more sense and is more practical for decision-making. Reality will always differ if you can picture homeowners leaving the windows open and cranking up the thermostat or perhaps an abnormally warm winter or hot summer, any of which would throw off the measured approach but not the modeled approach. So, we went with the modeled approach and compared ourselves to one of the industry standards, the aforementioned DOE.

Being within 6% of the DOE's certified energy assessors' results makes us confident that our slightly more heuristic approach achieves an accurate assessment with the same recommended actions. All this without having to add the steps of finding and hiring an energy assessor and a home inspector.

What does all this mean?

Awareness is key to energy efficiency, and understanding how efficiently your home operates today can help you plan for tomorrow. 

By utilizing the Home Energy Report data—ranging from HVAC systems and windows to insulation levels—we can estimate your home’s current energy usage and utility costs. More importantly, these reports provide actionable recommendations for improving your home's comfort and efficiency. You’ll gain better insight into what to prioritize when it comes to replacing or updating appliances, improving insulation, starting renovations, or increasing the resale value of your home.

Our partnerships with Joule and EnergySage help provide even deeper insight and a growing list of incentives, tax credits, and rebates. If you qualify, you can take advantage of these.

So, what’s next?

Moving forward, almost every home inspection conducted by Inspectify will include a Home Energy Report as an essential supplement. This report mirrors the DOE's Home Energy Score and is a starting point for future initiatives. Speaking of the DOE’s Home Energy Score, we are working on becoming a DOE-certified provider to serve the growing list of cities that require that certification (hello, Portland, OR, Bend, OR, Ann Arbor, MI, Berkley, CA, etc.).

We envision expanding these insights to inform renovation plans, appliance replacement planning, and other sustainability-driven projects. Stay tuned for more updates as we continue to enhance these reports with additional energy efficiency insights.

For more details about our Home Energy Reports, feel free to reach out to our team. Let's make every day Earth Day by embracing energy efficiency, one home at a time!