Energy Audits: Not At All Painful

December 30, 2011 § 2 Comments

Audit. To many people, the word is enough to incite a feeling of discomfort. Audits are considered to be bad things, signs that you’ve done something wrong with your taxes or some other policy. But energy audits are a completely different animal.

So what does an energy audit entail? What is its purpose? Well, the entire idea is that an auditor will come into your home, and does some tests to essentially figure out how energy efficient your entire home is, and then can let you know what improvements you can make to improve that efficiency.

So what gets tested for? To start, there’s a test for any gas leaks in existing air- and water-heating systems. Not only does a gas leak waste energy and money, but it could also pose a serious threat to your household’s health and safety. Most of the time these are an easy fix – some new pipes and a joint tightening.

Next there’s a test for heating efficiency. This will tests the flow and efficiency of your heating systems. For a home heating system, most new systems run at about 80-85% efficiency. If yours is running below that, you likely will want to get that replaced. This is often where it would be suggested that you switch over to geothermal or solar heating, which, though a bit of an investment, pays for itself in a few years, and has a much smaller environmental impact.

energy audit

A Blower Door Test

Last of the most common tests is to figure out how well sealed your home is, and how much energy and efficiency you might be wasting because it’s being lost to the outside. This is called a Calibrated Blower Fan Test , and basically what this this involves is the sealing off of your home from the outside, while opening all the doors inside of it. A fan is placed on an outside door, which then suctions off the home and pulls air through it. This shows your two things. First, it will allow the auditor to feel around for places in your home where there may be holes or leaks, and therefore know what and where you may need to seal up your home. What it will also tell you is a general air-flow rate, and give you a percent efficiency of air flow in your home as compared to a base number of the minimum amount of air flow your home needs.

Another test that is less common, but still often performed is a thermographic inspection, which uses an infrared camera to make “thermograms” which can be used to analyze your home for areas of heat loss or poor insulation. This can be an important tool, especially before buying a home.

Hope this helps clarify the reasons for and methods of an energy audit. Questions? Let me know!

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