Energy Audits & Assessments

Parent Q&A

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  • We are purchasing an ancient home in Berkeley and need to have a BESO energy assessment performed within the first 12 months. I'm excited to learn what energy upgrades we can enact immediately with what will be a limited budget and to make a plan for future upgrades. Can anybody share recent experiences with any of the approved assessors? The city's list is posted at…

    I found it a giant waste of money, but I was dealing with an already-renovated house, so perhaps you'll get more useful information out of it.

    The recommendations I received were to insulate the floor and attic (attic was insulated, but not fully to code apparently). But no pricing was given and no estimate of savings was given. Given our climate and how low our heating bills already were, I was pretty confident the extra insulation wouldn't be worth it.

    We've had a very good experience with Matthew Shedd from Blue Rock Homematt [at] I had contacted most of the vendors listed by the City of Berkeley's web site. They differed greatly in responsiveness and price. Matthew was on the more reasonable end of the price range and, useful for your purpose, they specialize in improving energy efficiency of homes. So he can also make good recommendations.

  • We moved into a house a couple of years ago and it feels like some areas of our house can never get warm! We're thinking about getting an energy audit to figure out the most effective ways to spend money on energy upgrades. I was wondering if anyone had had recent experiences with an energy audit, and whether you thought it was worth it? Do you have any good companies to recommend for this? Thanks!

    Yes, and you can get a rebate from BayRen. Hassler Heating and other HVAC outfits will do them (and try to sell you solutions) and submit the rebate on your behalf. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Consultant to give me an energy assessment

March 2012

TAKE ME OFF THE GRID! I'm rebuilding in Berkeley and looking into solar, wind, and water power. Having some trouble on rainy days getting power from solar and looking to install other passive energies. Anyone out there give energy assessments? Honesty, I found no one in the phone book or web search so thanks ahead for any wacky-doodle ideas folks! ~ gettin' off fossil fuel NOW!

If you want to 'get off the grid' I heartily recommend calling Larry Giustino at A-1 Sun. They do solar installations and other related work. I have known Larry for a number of years and attended a number of his presentations. He gave me an extremely reasonable bid for solar at my house. In addition, since Larry knows I am a piano and guitar teacher, he has helped sponsor our awards program here for our young students.You can contact Larry at larryg [at] or or (510) 526-5715. Ernie M

I recommend Keith O'Hara with Eco Performance Builders ( Keith is 'totally geeked out' (in his own words) on green building. He's clearly passionate and very knowledgeable about it. He did an energy audit and work on our home to give us heat (we didn't really have any) and some other improvements to help us retain the heat. He looked at the house as a whole, rather than trying to stuff us into the standard box that everyone else we talked to tried to do. His energy audit gave us several options to choose from and he was very good at listening to what we wanted when coming up with solutions for our home. We only used EPB to fix our heating problems, but they also work with off the grid and net zero homes. So glad we didn't go elsewhere

Non-Profit that provides free energy audits

May 2009


My name is Christina C. and I am with an environmental non-profit based in Berkeley, Rising Sun Energy Center . We run a summer program called California Youth Energy Services. It's a free service which provides homeowners and renters all around the bay area with a free energy efficiency audit and free energy saving equipments (such as CFLs, clotheslines, and efficient flow showerheads, etc.)

We can do all of this for free because we also hire and train local youth for the summer to become energy specialists and perform this audits. We are funded as a workforce development program for youth.

I am writing because we were hoping to get the support of the Berkeley Parents Network. Hopefully some of you have heard of us or have taken advantage of our services before. If not, we encourage you to come by our office on 2033 Center Street to check out our operation and sign up for a summer appointment!

Someone to ''air seal'' my home

Sept 2008

I live in a 2-story 1920's vintage house with hardwood floors, original single-paned windows (floor to ceiling) and a very drafty fireplace. I cannot face another winter of freezing while also paying $500 a month to PGE!

In reading through old posts, I got some great ideas, but I think I need a contractor to ''air seal'' my home. However, I can't seem to find any and one that was recommended a while back doesn't seem to be in business anymore.

Has anyone else done this? Need someone competent to seal cracks in door frames, windows, fireplaces - we have cracks big enough that daylight is visible on multiple sides of our front/back doors and many windows. Tried to weather strip last year but it really didn't do the trick.

Appreciate any advice or recs!! Best- Jessica

I recommend checking out Advanced Home Energy: (510)-540-4860. We have a house in the Berkeley hills that was very drafty and during the winter we had to run the furnace all the time to keep the house warm. Advanced Home Energy came in last year and used a tool called a blower door to pressurize our house and identify where all the leaks were. Originally we thought the leakage was coming from our windows and doors, but it turns out that the majority was coming from our recessed lights and attic space. They also had an infrared camera that could see the air escaping! I was impressed and am very happy with the results. They weatherstripped our doors, sealed all the cracks and leaks in the attic and insulated our attic. Our utility bills went way down during the winter and our house is finally comfortable. Satisfied AHE customer

We worked with Sustainable Spaces out of San Francisco. Their staff was very helpful and really seemed to care about my needs having to do with scheduling, etc. They can come and do a home energy audit and figure out exactly what you need. Beth

We also have a new program that we are launching called Smart Solar, which is funded by the city of Berkeley to be an unbiased informational resource for residents who are interested in adopting solar for their homes. I could send you some information on this program as well if you think community members are interested.

Christina C.

Our house is freezing

Feb 2008

Our PG bill was over $700 in December, yet our 2400 sq ft house is still freezing. I would like to find an insulation company that could assess the quality of our existing insulation to see whether the insulation is part of the problem. Our home has 12-ft vaulted ceilings (but no attic), and I speculate that that is why it's so cold. Might it be possible to have the ceilings lowered to create room for additional insulation? I would like to hear about your experiences with improving insulation and any companies or techniques you might recommend. We are wearing 4 layers of shirts plus long underwear, sleeping under layers of down comforters, and using a programmable thermostat to drop the heat significantly at night. - freezing in Montclair

To the person with the $700 pge bill who is still cold..I was moving into a an old drafty house that I knew to have high bills and still be cold (my father had lived there). I was determined to make the the house more energy efficient and comfortable. I looked around for a long time before I found a place called Sustainable Spaces is San Francisco (google them) that for $600 or so will come to your house and spend several hours doing a complete energy audit to determine where all your leaks are and then give you a full and detailed report including a prescription of how to fix it and how to get the most bang for your buck. I thought they would say replace the windows...but they didn't. I insulated my vaulted ceiling and ceiled up the ''building envelope'' and did weather stripping everywhere. They also do the work and refund half the cost of the audit if you do. They were extremely pleasant to work with and now even on these cold days, my bills are reasonable and my house doesn't have breezes going through it. Laura

As a former CHEERS (California Home Energy Efficiency Rating System) rater and building contractor emphasizing energy efficiency, I could identify the energy waste in your home as well as the sources of heat loss, energy waste and thermal discomfort. Your uninsulated vaulted ceiling is certainly an energy hole in your house. If your roof above it is old and near it's end, you might consider rigid foam insulation on top of the roof. George

I just had a great experience with Advanced Home Energy. They were reasonably priced, did great work (I can already feel a difference in the warmth of my home),cleaned up after themselves, were polite, and honest and upfront with all costs. They told me what I needed (and what I didn't! Just as important, I think), and stuck to their estimate even when the work took three days (their original time estimate was 1 1/2 days). A really good company with some really fine employees. Their phone number is (510) 540-4860. Melanie