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No Foolin’ – Commerce Recommends an Advanced Home Energy Assessment before Making Major Home Improvements, Upgrades

From the Minnesota Department of Commerce

Before embarking on home energy improvements or remodeling, especially major projects, the Minnesota Department of Commerce strongly recommends having an advanced home energy assessment. An assessment, or energy audit, of how your house is functioning can help you decide what needs fixing or replacing. A follow-up inspection after the work has been completed can help document the energy savings.

An energy assessment will identify some simple low-cost measures you can take, such as weather-stripping doors, and it can help prioritize more expensive but cost-effective measures, like adding insulation and air-sealing or replacing a heating system. Analyzing the operation and interactions of the various components of the home upfront can save in the long run. For instance, consider an energy assessment before replacing major equipment such as a furnace or boiler. Determining and addressing air leakage, insulation, and other issues can help to correctly size a new heating system and ensure that it will work as efficiently as possible.

An advanced energy assessment should include the following:

  • A review of energy bills to help assess home performance and identify savings opportunities.
  • A blower-door test to determine air leakage.
  • Infrared scans to detect insulation levels and sources of air leaks.
  • Efficiency and safety testing for combustion appliances.
  • A thorough visual inspection for attic, wall, crawlspace, foundation, basement, window, door, and roof problems.

Contact your gas or electric utility to arrange an advanced energy assessment. More comprehensive assessments are available from private contractors specializing in comprehensive home performance reviews. Advanced energy assessments range in cost from about $100 to several hundred dollars, depending on the level of detail. An energy assessment will be your first step to saving energy and saving money on your utility bills.

For more information on home energy assessments and energy-saving improvements, check out the “Home Envelope” consumer guide on the Division of Energy Resources website.

Minnesota Energy Tips is provided twice a month by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources. Contact the division’s Energy Information Center at or 800-657-3710 with energy questions.

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