How much do you know about your home? I’m not talking about your address or where things are in the kitchen, I’m talking about what really goes on inside your home. Chances are, we assume everything is working fine. Until it’s not.
What is an Energy Audit?
A home energy audit is one of the best ways to truly see how your home is functioning and what you can do to make it better. Energy audits assess how much energy your home or business consumes and helps to evaluate what measures you can take to make your home/business more energy efficient.
In a recent article in the Washington Post, Ely Jacobsohn, who manages the Home Performance with Energy Star program at the U.S. Department of Energy said, “Audits are important for homeowners because they provide solutions based on proven building science. They find the root cause of problems, rather than just treating symptoms.”
By finding the root cause of problems, you can make a big difference in how efficient your home is. What if you opened your next power bill and it had dropped by more than 50%?
Understanding what is sucking up energy and then learning how to fix it can make a huge difference in your monthly bills. Energy efficiency upgrades identified by a home energy audit can save you between 5 and 30 percent on monthly energy bills. This can potentially save significant amounts of money for your family over time.
How Does a Home Energy Audit Work?
A home energy audit is a two-part process that can be done by any professional energy auditor. Sometimes, an HVAC contractor can also perform an audit, but often times it is a professional auditor through the local energy department who performs the service. If your HVAC contractor cannot perform the audit, they can recommend you to someone who can. You can also find a professional auditor through the Building Performance Institute, the Residential Energy Services Network or on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star website.
Part 1: Assessment
The first part of a home energy audit is the assessment. This is where the auditor will begin by analyzing your energy bills and completing a visual, health, and safety inspection. Sometimes they may use special equipment to detect sources of energy loss. This may include things like an infrared camera, combustion analyzer, blower door, manometer, draft gauge, and moisture meter. Often, their expertise and experience can notice and detect problems right away. Because they know what to look for, they may see problems that are often overlooked or go undetected.
Part 2: Analysis
The second part of the audit is done by specialized computer software that analyzes the specific data gathered by the auditor. After the audit is complete, and the data is processed, a report is generated that provides results, recommendations, and lists possible other issues if any were found. This analysis is the most valuable part of an energy audit. It provides a comprehensive report that shows which energy efficient upgrades are best for your home/business and your wallet.
Part 3: Your Score
Choose an auditor who provides a home energy score at the end of the audit. This score rates the efficiency of your house based on its age, size, and heating, cooling and water systems. The score ranges from one to 10, with 10 indicating lowest energy use. It estimates how much energy your house will use in a year given the size of your family and the weather in the area. This gives you a clear measurement of where your home is and what you can do to improve.
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Home Energy Audits and Your HVAC System
Home energy audits examine every component within the HVAC system. It helps determine what parts of your system are working overtime, and which parts could use an update. An HVAC energy audit is the best way to determine how much energy your system uses. It also pinpoints where and when the energy consumption directly stems from. Where and when is the energy the heaviest and the lightest? What areas and equipment cause the most energy loss? What are the ages, types, and conditions of the system components? And most importantly, does the system pose a health risk to you or your family?
Periodic audits should be a part of any preventative maintenance program. While it’s probably unnecessary to conduct an audit every year, it can be especially helpful every few years. In many states, you might even be eligible for rebates or low-cost energy efficient solutions and renovations.
Energy Audits and Your Future
A home energy audit can also be essential if you’re moving into a new home, building a new home, or if you live in an older home before efficient systems were common. A big, old historical home can be a beautiful investment, but it can also be a drafty energy sucker.
Once your audit is complete, you can learn how you use energy, where it’s being wasted, and what measures to take to prioritize your consumption, your equipment, and your budget. Furthermore, if you choose to make energy audits part of your annual maintenance plan, you can compare year to year reports, all while adjusting to keep your home/business as comfortable as possible, all year long. For more information about setting up an energy audit, let us find a contractor for you today.