Best Small Business to Start: Energy Auditing

Environmental awareness prompts rise in energy auditing opportunities


Energy Auditing

Along with a rise of public concern about the environment has come an increase in energy auditing—assessment of homes and businesses for energy efficiency. Energy audits appeal to cash-strapped homeowners, business people looking to shrink their energy bills, and green-minded people looking for an unbiased opinion of what their homes or workplaces need to become Earth friendly.

What does it pay?
While no statistics for energy auditors specifically are available, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage for construction and building inspectors in May 2007 was $50,440.

What kind of background do you need?
To start out as an energy auditor, a background in science is recommended but not required. More important is knowledge of the environment and how daily living, especially household appliances, affect it. Simple geometry is the main tool in assessments—square footage is one of the most important factors affecting energy output. A certification from ResNet (Residential Energy Services Network) is becoming important as more businesses enter the industry.

How do you get started?
Energy auditing has a relatively low barrier to entry—around $10,000 to start. A couple pieces of inspectional equipment are necessary to start, including a blower door (an adjustable-frame door vital to testing for air leaks). Jim Conlon, founder and president of Elysian Energy in Washington, D.C., says the hardest part of the job is letting people know energy audits are available. Conlon left the Chicago stand-up comedy scene to start Elysian. He still gets on stage, but now it's to spread the word about energy auditing, which many in the District of Columbia have received for free through a government rebate system. Energy auditing is just one part of the rising green market. "We need high-level, top-down leadership," Conlon says, "but there's still a lot of work to be done at the bottom. It's sort of a grass-roots service."

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small business
energy policy and climate change