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An energy audit is a visual and/or diagnostic examination of all the systems that make up a house to determine how it wastes energy and where it lacks comfort. It’s like taking your home to the doctor for a check-up.
Much like the human body, our homes are made up of complex systems that work together. If there is a problem with one of the systems, we get symptoms like uncomfortable rooms or high utility bills. An energy audit allows you to set priorities for improving your home so you get the most improvement for your money based on building science, not flashy sales pitches.
All audits performed by Efficient Energy Solutions start with a thorough visual inspection of the entire home and all the systems in it. This is thoroughly documented with photos. Depending on the type of audit, the visual inspection is followed by a blower door test, a duct blaster test, and combustion safety testing. Once these tests are complete our energy auditors will sit with homeowners to give a visual presentation of all the photos taken during the energy audit. Afterward, the homeowner is provided with a Prioritized Improvement Plan and a Recommendations Report.
A blower door test is used to find air leaks in the building envelope. A blower door is an apparatus that is installed into an exterior door. It has a large fan that when turned on, draws the air out of the home. This allows the energy auditor to locate both major and minor air leaks throughout the home and to determine total leakage. Total leakage is the sum of all the leaks combined into one opening. The average home has a three square foot hole that’s open 24/7.
A duct blaster tests the leakiness of the duct systems in the home. The average duct system leaks 25%. This means that ¼ of the air flowing through the ducts either leaks outside (wasting money) or brings outside air into the duct system (bring outside contaminants in).
This allows the homeowner to see exactly what the energy auditor sees at the time of the audit. This helps the homeowner understand the effects of the conditions noted by the auditor.
The PIP gives the homeowner a list of needs for their home in order of priority based on nationally recognized standards and building science. This allows the homeowner to make improvements in the most cost effective manner possible.
The Recommendation Report separates the home into specific areas. It states the conditions noted, what problems those conditions create, specific recommendations to improve those issues, and the results those improvements will provide.
There are several factors that determine how long an energy audit takes. The size of the house, the number of HVAC units, and how easily areas in the attic, basement, and crawl spaces are all major factors. A full diagnostic energy audit takes from 4 to 6 hours. A Visual Energy Assessment takes around 2 hours.
The type of insulation depends on the type existing insulation and what goal you are trying to achieve. Insulation can be made from fiberglass, cellulose (made from recycled newspaper), rock wool, and even spray foams. It also comes in different forms like loose fill that can be blown in, batts that can be rolled in, and foams that can be sprayed in. There have been a lot of advances in insulation technology and each one has advantages and disadvantages.
Air sealing refers to sealing up all the areas where air leaks in and out of the house. A leaky house is going to be uncomfortable, will have poor indoor air quality, and greatly increased utility costs. Using the proper types of spray foams to seal leaks in the attic, basement, and crawl spaces; weather stripping windows and doors; and sealing exessive leaks around outlet and switch plates will help save you money and make your home a more comfortable and healthy place to live.