Making an informed home purchasing decision typically requires relying on the help of multiple skilled inspectors. A thorough home inspection can give you a heads up for severe problems, such as aging roofing or even foundation issues. However, a standard residential review won't necessarily tell you everything you need to know about your new home.

If you want to maximize your new home's value and long-term affordability, an energy audit is another job you may want to consider. Below are three ways an energy audit can help you make a more informed purchase.

1. Better HVAC Assessments

A typical HVAC inspection can tell you quite a bit about a house's heating and cooling system. You'll learn about the age of components, their overall maintenance status, and whether they're a good fit for the size and characteristics of the house. However, there's also quite a bit that an inspector can't tell just by looking at the system.

An energy audit will help you understand if the house has significant issues with its envelope, reducing HVAC efficiency. Common problems include poor insulation, draft doors, old windows, etc. Since HVAC systems need to work harder to cool and heat inefficient homes, this information can provide you with a better assessment of the system's condition and likely lifespan.

2. Accurate Long-Term Ownership Costs

There's more to owning a home than paying the mortgage and dealing with occasional maintenance problems. Your long-term ownership costs also include your utility bills, and a house with significant energy problems can cost far more than you might expect. In many cases, simply looking at local utility costs and estimating based on average usage isn't enough to provide a clear picture.

An energy audit will reveal how a house's energy usage stacks up against the average for an area. An inefficient home will cost far more over time, and you can use this knowledge to estimate your utility costs. If you're trying to keep your monthly bills in check, an energy audit can reveal that an otherwise affordable house may become an energy nightmare.

3. Room for Improvement

Not everything an energy audit finds is necessarily a negative. Many energy and efficiency issues are relatively minor, and an energy audit can help inform you about cost-effective upgrades you can make after closing on your new house. It can also help you plan for more expensive future upgrades, such as ductwork repair or replacement.

While an energy audit might not be standard for new home purchases, it's worth considering. Even if you decide not to schedule an audit before you buy, planning for this specialized inspection in your first year of ownership can offer many of the same benefits and allow you to improve your home's efficiency while reducing your utility bills.

Contact a company that performs home energy audits for more information.