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Home Energy Audits

 

Technology Snapshot & Benefits:

A home energy audit is an important tool for energy conservation and savings by homeowners. Considering the high cost of energy today, lowering utility bills by making a home more energy efficient is essential. An energy audit can help identify areas of a home that can be a financial and energy drain, in order to save on heating, electricity, water, or gas bills. By reducing costs, consumption, and the reliance on foreign, non-renewable, energy sources a home energy audit is one of the most cost effective ways to not only make your home more energy efficient, but in addition more comfortable as well. Auditors come into your home, complete an individually unique analysis for your household, and give suggestions on areas that need improvements. Some of the improvements that are often suggested involve sealing doors and windows, adding insulation, weather stripping, improvements in ventilation, ducting and airflow, and improvement of heating and cooling systems to function more efficiently.

 

Multiple audit options exist on the market, with everything from do-it-yourself packets to professionals that specialize in this industry. Whether you elect to hire a professional or conduct a home energy audit on your own, the process aims to diagnose the problem areas in your household in terms of energy efficiency and comfort.

 

Various tools and testing methods exist to help in the diagnostic process of a home energy audit. Blower door tests and infrared technologies are two of the most valuable tools that an energy auditor has, second only to their knowledge and experience. Both types of analysis serve to aid the auditor in different ways. A blower door test determines the air tightness of a home and helps to identify potentially problematic areas where air leaks are an issue. Infrared technology has recently entered the energy audit industry and enables an auditor to see hot and cold spots behind walls and other structural components.

 

The advantage to hiring a professional to conduct a thorough home energy audit is that they are more likely to see things that a homeowner may miss. However, by following directions on sites such as the Department of Energy to conduct self performed home energy audits, homeowners can identify some of the larger and more important issues within your home without professional assistance.

 

Keep in mind that energy audits can be conducted on commercial properties as well, however you'd want to hire a commercial specialist for those jobs.

 

Estimated Cost Savings:

The estimated cost savings associated with home energy audits are three fold. In most cases if the homeowners follow the suggestions of the auditor they will find an improvement in comfort, an increase in the level of efficiency, and a decrease in monthly utility bills. Most solutions which arise from an energy audit eventually pay for themselves through the savings on bills.

 

Completing a home energy audit is the optimal method for finding areas in a home that waste energy. Using the findings of an energy audit to properly seal and insulate a home is important for energy conservation. By diagnosing the problem areas and making the right improvements many households could easily see a reduction in home energy use by 30 to 40 percent - and in some cases even cut in half. The typical household in the United States consumes so much energy in electricity and heating fuel that its greenhouse gas emissions are equivalent to two average automobiles. Cutting your energy consumption by 25 percent may be equivalent - in climate impact - to eliminating emissions from a car for 6 months each year, or keeping three to four tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere.


An import point to keep in mind is that repairs resulting from an energy audit also increase a home's value and return on investment.

 

Issues:
Issues in energy audits may arise when an auditor is inexperienced or a homeowner conducts a poor self initiated home energy audit. Negative results rarely stem from performing an energy audit as it is just a diagnostic step in the energy efficiency process. Issues may arise once work has begun on the improvements decided upon by the homeowner, but this should be rare if your audit was thorough and precise.

 

Some confusion may arise when trying to decipher the differences between audit, rating, and assessment. One of the major differences between home energy rating and an energy audit is that the rating is a recognized tool in the mortgage process. The information derived from the home energy rating provides important information about a home's energy performance and the economic analysis necessary to support lending decisions. The home energy audit is very similar to home energy assessments which focus to diagnose a home's problem areas and address those issues rather than certify that a property meets specific environmental and energy consumption standards.

 

Regional Issues:
The regional issues regarding this technology/practice revolve around the fact that this is a very climate specific field. Often the best solution to an energy efficiency problem is unique to the region in which it comes. Find a professional energy auditor who is local or comes from a similar climate area.

 

Installation (Getting It Done):
There are numerous resources available to contact energy auditors in your area. In most cases utility companies may have some contacts in the industry that they can refer and often supplement some of the costs of the consumer. Contact your local utility provider today for more information on certified auditors. Make sure the company you go with has a good reputation, can offer referrals, conducts blower door tests, and that either does or subcontracts infrared scanning technologies. Organizations such as Energy Star also have lists of certified home auditors available to consumers. In addition be sure to check that the company is local and well experienced.

 

Videos on This Topic:

 

From EcoBroker International:

 

 

 

From Other Sources:

 

Home Energy Audit (9:26) - Green Dream Group - An important step to ensuring that your home is operating at its highest possible level is to get a home energy audit.  These audits will not only tell you if your home is wasting energy, it will tell you where and, in some cases, how to fix it.  One of the most common tools used in home energy audits is the blower door test, seen in this video explaining a typical audit.

 

Meeting the Green Challenge - Home Energy Audit (8:04) - In this video, watch as a home energy auditor surveys an older house for places for potential improvements, including appliances, attic leaks, and old furnaces.

 

More Information On This Topic:

Department of Energy - Home Energy Assessments

Energy Star - Home Energy Audits

Home Energy Saver - The Energy Calculator

Residential Energy Services Network

    What is a Home Energy Audit?

    Benefits of a Home Energy Audit

    What is an Energy Rating?

 

 

 


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