Freddie Mac used to publish a booklet called A Consumer's Home Inspection Kit, which doesn't seem to be available on their website anymore, but I found a copy elsewhere. I think the concept of a consumer home inspection is very attractive and, furthermore, of immediate interest to any energy watcher.
I should mention that I think that the whole home inspection industry is a crock. I had a home inspection on each of the four houses I have purchased over the years, and in each case the home inspector failed to discover critical flaws. Why was I paying an expert $200-$400? To inspect the house and discover those critical flaws. And what recourse did I have? None. (Home inspectors always require that you sign a contract releasing them from all liability before they start work.)
But inspecting your own house? Great idea! You just need to know what to look for, and the Freddie Mac brochure is a great place to start.
What if you aren't buying house right now? Well, you can still benefit. At the back of the brochure is a table Schedule of Normal Life which lists the normal lifespan for your household appliances:
|Appliance||Average Lifespan (Years)|
|Hot Water Heaters, Gas||8-12|
|Hot Water Heaters, Electric||10-15|
So just how long have you had your air conditioner? Furnace? Hot water heater? If your appliances are nearing the end of their lifespan, you should start planning ahead. You can generally find a better deal if you shop in the off season and you should have the luxury of doing so if you start shopping before the appliance finally gives up the ghost. Energy Star appliances may cost a few dollars more but will save you big money over their expected lifespan — and, depending on just how old and inefficient your existing appliances are, you may save even more by replacing them before they wear out.
Just a thought.