Most homes are not as energy efficient as they could be. We all want to save money and have efficient energy systems, but we usually don’t know where to start. That’s where a professional home energy audit can pay off. A home energy audit can help you prioritize the type of equipment upgrades you should make, as well as the types of projects you should tackle to improve the home’s efficiency.
Prepping for an Audit
Once you have hired a professional auditor, there are some tasks you undertake prior to the visit. List problems such as drafts, uneven cooling or heating, or too much humidity and condensation. Gather your utility bills for the past 12 months. You can also jot down basics about your home, such as square footage, the number of hours the home is occupied, average thermostat settings for heating and cooling, and the number of people in the home.
What the Auditor Will Do
Your energy auditor will review the problems you have listed, but will also conduct their own visual inspection of your entire home. The inspection involves examination of several key areas throughout your home as well. The auditor’s inspection of the interior and exterior will include:
- Checking for air leaks around doors, windows, fixtures and outlets, the thermostat, and fireplace. Depending on the type of leak, usually caulk or weatherstripping is used to reduce air seepage.
- Your auditor will determine if there is enough insulation or identify areas that should have insulation.
- The auditor will check electrical appliances to determine if age and condition affect efficiency.
- Vent fans will be assessed for flow rate, and ducts and dryer vents will be inspected.
- The furnace and other combustion appliances will be tested for leaks that could lead to problems such as dangerous carbon monoxide poisoning.
- The Blower door test – The blower door test uses a powerful fan mounted in the frame of an exterior door. The fan pulls air out of the house, lowering the pressure. The higher pressure outside the home forces air through the leaks in the house. The auditor uses a smoke pencil to detect the leaks.
- A Thermographic scan – Equipment used for the thermographic scan will measure temperatures throughout your home using still cameras and infrared video. The cameras detect temperature variations caused by heat and moisture. That is, the thermal camera detects the heat and creates an image which is recorded on film or video showing the temperature variations — white in warm regions and black in cool places. From these images, the auditor can identify areas in your home that contribute to energy loss. The scans may be done indoors or outdoors, but interior scans are more common. The effectiveness of the blower door tests can be enhanced by conducting the scan in conjunction with the blower door test.
Your auditor will also evaluate the overall performance of your HVAC system. A thorough audit should include a safety inspection and an assessment of the electrical system. Carbon monoxide and smoke alarms should be noted and tested, and all light fixtures and recessed lighting checked.
Your auditor has the equipment and expertise to perform specialized tests such as:
Once the audit is complete, the auditor will analyze all findings and provide the homeowner with a comprehensive report. All recommendations will be geared toward increasing energy efficiency, savings and comfort. Enlisting the services of a qualified HVAC professional to inspect your equipment and advise you on upgrades or replacement is a very effective way to ensure you make the right energy-saving choices for your home.
DIY Home Energy Audits
Although a professional home energy audit will yield the best results, you can do your own inspection to help improve energy efficiency in your home. You can do some of the checks your auditor would do. Do a walk-through of your home, noting problems. Look for air leaks, examine lighting choices and look for ways you can save, for example by upgrading to energy-efficient light-emitting diodes (LEDS) or compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). You can also evaluate your use of your heating and cooling equipment. How you program your thermostat, or investing in modern thermostat technology, can greatly change the way you use energy to heat and cool your home.
Home energy audits can help you to realize significant savings on your energy bills. Learn more about how a home energy audit can help your Charleston-area home by calling Goose Creek Heating and Air at 888-880-1131. Our qualified technicians can conduct a thorough evaluation of your HVAC system, and provide effective and reliable repair, installation, and maintenance service.
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