Home Energy Audits
The first step in implementing a whole house energy efficiency strategy is to complete a third-party independent energy efficiency audit. Energy-saving begins with the basic assessment of where weaknesses in the thermal envelope of your home exist. Think of the thermal envelope as the “armor” protecting your home from the intrusion of the natural elements. There are usually some very basic actions that can be taken to reduce your energy bills and provide real, meaningful benefits to the environment at the same time. These actions can be as simple as replacing weather-stripping around doors to re-caulking around windows or as ambitious as creating an unvented attic with spray foam insulation. The information provided by the energy auditor will also allow you to more accurately calculate your savings or return on investment for any particular strategy you should decide to undertake. By conducting the audit first, recommendations can be made that will reduce the energy load of your home by making improvements to the thermal envelope and reducing the energy load of your appliances and lighting before advancing to more aggressive and expensive conservation tactics. Reducing the energy load of your home will enable you to reduce the size and cost of trailing systems like upgraded high efficiency, variable or two speed HVAC systems or even a grid-tied solar system. This has the potential of saving you thousands of dollars in up-front equipment costs and getting you to break-even sooner rather than later.
An energy audit includes the evaluation of building envelope dynamics including the walls, ceilings, floors, doors, windows, and skylights. For each of these components the area and resistance to heat flow (R-value) is measured or estimated. The leakage rate or infiltration of air through the building envelope is measured and is generally affected by window construction and quality of door seals such as weather-stripping. The goal of this process is to quantify the building's overall thermal performance. A simplified approach called the UA delta-T method can be used for good approximate results. The audit will also determine the efficiency, physical condition, and programming of mechanical systems such as the heating, ventilation, air conditioning equipment, and thermostat.
A home energy audit will include a written report estimating energy use given local climate criteria, thermostat settings, roof overhang, and solar orientation. This could show energy use for a given time period and the impact of any suggested improvements per year. The accuracy of energy estimates are greatly improved when the homeowner's billing history is available showing the quantities of electricity, natural gas, fuel oil, or other energy sources consumed over a one or two-year period. Some of the greatest effects on energy use are user behavior, climate, and age of the home.
Contact us for a list of independent Energy Auditors in your area.