Starting an Energy Audit Business
By Eric Hammer
Have you ever thought about starting an energy audit business?
Put simply, what you would do is to walk around someone's home
or office and help them figure out where they can save money.
You'll point out which appliances are not efficient and should
be replaced with new ones (You'll also need to be able to explain
in dollars and cents exactly how long a new appliance will take
to pay for itself.). You can also suggest energy saving options,
such as installing solar panels on the roof of a building, using
different colors of paint to absorb or repel energy (for example,
if you were to paint your roof white, it will reflect the sun
more, typically resulting in lower air conditioning costs) and
of course, you can suggest tried and true methods for saving
money, such as improving the insulation on windows and doors.
As the owner of an energy audit business, you'll also ultimately
be in a position to do some good for the planet and for your
fellow human being. After all, by helping people to save on energy,
you're doing two great things - you're helping someone save money,
which is always welcome and you're helping to save the planet
by reducing the carbon footprint of your clients. Therefore,
this job is a great one for those who want to do something positive
with their lives.
How Much Can You Make?
Typically, energy auditors charge around $400-$500 for an
audit of a person's home and around $500-$600 for a small business.
Of course, the amounts you charge can go much higher if you happen
to be working on a larger space.
In all cases, the money is almost pure profit since there
are few disposable items involved. The equipment necessary, such
as thermal cameras and handheld computers are long term investments
rather than short term investments so, while your startup costs
may be higher, most of the money you earn (aside from paying
taxes and insurance) tends to be yours to keep.
Ways to Make More | Related Opportunities
Consider working with city and state authorities as well as
private business. Often, the local power company will have energy
auditors on staff rather than contracting out with an external
energy audit business so you may be able to land a regular, steady
job working with such companies.
In all cases, remember that this is a service business. People
need to be able to trust you and therefore, your reputation will
be everything. If you end up making costly recommendations which
don't actually help at all, you'll quickly find yourself out
Finally, while you can make extra money by referring your
clients to contractors who can install the material they need
and then taking a commission, you need to be very careful to
disclose this up front so that your customers know they can trust
you. Nothing looks more suspicious to a customer if they happen
to find out after the fact that you got a commission without
their knowledge. The way this can be spun effectively is to arrange
for a discount from the contracts in question, which you share
with your clients (i.e. if the contractor can offer your clients
a 15% discount, you might take 5% and explain to your clients
that you have arrangements with this place to offer a 10% discount.
Just be sure to make clear that you get a commission as well
and don't pressure your clients to sign with the company you
Qualifications / Requirements
While state laws vary on the requirements for becoming an
energy auditor, typically you should expect to need a master
degree in engineering so that you can fully understand all the
inner workings of doing a job like this. You'll also want to
pass an exam from one of the national organizations that certify
Start by reading about how energy audits are done. Take some
books out of the library and read up on what you can do at home
to save energy. Then, take an honest assessment of your own home
and the homes of some friends and relatives. Once you have done
that and feel like you would like to do this for a living, get
certified officially as an energy auditor (and if you don't yet
have your degree, be sure to apply to college).
Check out these helpful resources to find out more about how
to start and energy audit business:
WiseGeek: How to Become and Energy Auditor -
a bit brief, but it provides a good overview of what you'll need
to do in order to get started in this business.
Building Science Tech: How to Become an Energy Auditor
- a little more comprehensive than the site above, though they
tend to focus on "tips" rather than the over-all process.
Energy Audit Institute - A school to learn how
to become an energy auditor so you can start your energy audit