Having an energy audit is like taking your house in for a check-up. Like the human body our homes are made up a various systems that work together. When there is something wrong with one of the systems, we get symptoms. Like a doctor, an energy auditor not only takes into account the symptoms, but also examines the entire structure for clues to what might be causing the problem.
Using a whole house approach, an energy auditor looks at everything including:
- The windows and doors
- Insulation levels
- Conditions in the attic, basement, or crawl space
- Existence of air sealing
- Types of lighting fixtures
- Energy efficient appliances
They also inspect the condition of:
- The A/C
- Duct systems
- Water heater
An energy auditor also uses many diagnostic tools to find out what may be causing comfort issues and high utility bills. A blower door is used to test a house for air infiltration. A duct blaster is used to test how much the duct systems leak. A gas sniffer is used to check for leakage in gas lines. In some cases a monoxer is used to check for carbon monoxide concentrations in flue gases. And still others may use a infared camera to check for leaks and insulation levels in wall cavities.
Our homes are a lot more complicated than they look and it takes a person with a background in building science to be able to decipher them. The heating and air guy, the insulation guy, the window and door guy, the electrician and plumber, are all focused on what they do. An energy auditor looks at everything and how the interact with each other. This way they can help you prioritized your home’s needs so you get the most improvement for your money.
Do yourself and your home a favor. Before you go out and spend several thousand dollars on new windows and doors or a new HVAC system, spend a few hundred dollars on an energy audit to find out exactly what your home needs. In the end, you won’t fall prey to a good salesperson and you’ll probably end up saving yourself a lot of money in the end. Don’t throw money at your problems, throw knowledge, it’s a lot cheaper.