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A whole house energy audit is an inspection of your home that is designed to find out how and where your home is wasting energy. In addition to gauging energy usage, an energy auditor can assess your home's overall health and performance. A few days after the inspection, your energy auditor usually delivers a report detailing cost-effective measures you can take to reduce your home's energy consumption. In this regard, an energy audit is different than a home energy rating, which just provides you with a score for comparing your home's efficiency to other homes.
Energy auditors employ a combination of high tech equipment and common sense evaluations to help you prioritize the steps you can take to reduce your home energy usage. Two of the primary pieces of equipment are a blower door and infrared camera. The blower door can pressurize or depressurize your home, and measures airflow through your home. The tighter your house is, the less you have to continually condition outside air. A infrared camera, on the other hand, allows the energy auditor to see temperature differentials in your walls or ceilings, which show areas where there is insufficient insulation. Yet, other times, the auditor does a plain visual inspection to determine the quality of the insulation or to check for moisture issues.
Steps of an Energy Audit
A typical audit is comprised of the following steps:
(1) A thorough visual inspection of the home's building envelope.
(2) An insulation check, generally involving infrared thermography, to pinpoint spots where insulation may have settled, been improperly installed, or where it may be missing altogether.
(3) An air leakage test using a blower door, to measure the cumulative effect of all the air leaks in the home.
(4) A ventilation check: healthy houses have appropriate ventilation, and an auditor will test ventilation systems to ensure that they conform to safety standards.
(5) Examination of all visible gas lines, gas stoves, and gas powered water heaters to insure that there are no leaks.
(6) Evaluation of your central heating system including an assessment of whether it needs a cleaning or a tune-up.
(7) Testing of suspect appliances, including old driers or refrigerators, using an electricity monitor. There are times when one terrifically inefficient appliance throws an entire house's energy use out of whack.
Audits Aren't Retrofits or Upgrades!
King Pine Homes believes that whole house energy audits by certified professionals are worth every penny, so long as you act on what the audit turns up.
Finally, a word of caution: homeowners are often shocked to discover that all the little air leaks throughout their house can add up to the equivalent of a window (or two, or more) being left open year round! And remember, what you don't know can cost you: it's better to know!