What’s Included in a Home Energy Audit?
If your home is like the typical American household, then you spend over $2,000 a year on your power bill. That goes towards heat, air conditioning, lighting, and powering your many appliances. You might also have other bills for powering your home, including oil or natural gas. Fuel and energy prices are usually beyond your control as a homeowner, but you can influence and manage how much power your home actually needs or uses. A home energy audit or home energy assessment is your opportunity to find out how you minimize your energy costs towards better efficiency.
What Does a Home Energy Audit Entail?
An energy audit involves having a professional walk through your home while they do two things. First, they’ll assess your home’s energy consumption in its current state. Second, they’ll identify specific steps you can take to increase your home’s energy efficiency overall. Energy auditors are trained to find where homes lose the most energy and to make suggestions about improvements that will cut down on your utilities. A home energy audit can range from 30 minutes up to four hours to finish. That varies based on how big your home is and how easily accessible many areas are. Professional auditors utilize various tools to find problem spaces in your property. Based on what they find, they’ll give you a list of suggestions on how to improve your home so it’s more efficient.
The Actual Audit Experience
Your energy auditor will probably start looking your home over from the outside. They’ll check out specific components, including walls, windows, and eaves. They’ll be looking for major issues on the exterior that might cause leaks in and out of the house. If you have one, your attic is a place the auditor will also check out. They’ll be looking for several things here. For starters, they’ll check out the insulation, as they want to ensure it’s properly installed and evenly applied between walls. Your auditor will also check electrical lines and the holes they run through for proper sealing in order to rule out sources of leaks there.
Your water heater and furnace are both on the checklist. Older models might be something you should consider upgrading. If you have a furnace, they’ll check the filter to see if it needs replacement or not. They’ll also look at duct connections in your basement that might be source points for losing energy and heat. Many professional audits will involve a blower door test. This is a device that helps them find air leaks in a home.
All doors and windows in your home will be closed for this test, and the blower door machine will actually depressurize the air in your home. When this happens, the auditor can use an infrared camera to find where cold air might leak into the home. This will identify prime opportunities for potential air sealing. The auditor will also inspect your home’s lighting. If any of your home’s sources of illumination are still using incandescent light bulbs, you might be able to reduce your utilities a lot by converting them over to light-emitting diodes or compact fluorescent lamps. These are respectively also known as LED or CFL technology and lighting.
How Do You Get an Energy Audit?
Energy audits are available through several different sources, depending on where you live. Private businesses sometimes offer them, so start by consulting your local power company or utility. You might also have access to home energy audits through government resources. Local and state government agencies might offer them through an energy department or winterization office. Depending on the source of the energy audit, it might be free or cost you money.
Factors that influence the cost of an energy audit include what kind of audit you have done, the size of your home, and where you are located. Residential home energy audits are typically cheaper than commercial audits, and they might even be free or affordably priced as complementary services to consumers. Even if you have to pay for one, you’ll get a list of recommendations that can help you save on your utility bills in the future. Some locations might even have energy rebates to make the audit more affordable.
Two Kinds of Energy Audits
Home energy audits are available in two different categories. The first is known as a preliminary energy audit, and the second is called a detailed energy audit. The one you need is based on your specific needs. A preliminary energy audit involves gathering data, usually from a walk-through inspection. The auditor comes up with a preliminary analysis based on two things.
First, they’ll use data that is readily available. Second, they’ll only use a handful of diagnostic instruments. The information presented to you might not be complete, but it’s still a way to find major issues in your home and correct areas of energy inefficiency. A detailed energy audit will involve monitoring, analyzing, and then verifying energy use throughout your home.
The professional energy auditor will do more than just a walkthrough, as they will also use sophisticated tools. Specific possibilities might include a flow meter, a scanner, and a flue gas analyzer. This audit won’t just find major sources of inefficiency but actually measure them. You’ll know pretty much every possible step you can take towards better energy efficiency in your home and even how much they will benefit you in concrete detail.
When Is the Right Time to Have an Energy Audit Done for Your Home?
Any time is actually the right time if you’re concerned about your spending on energy bills. The faster you can upgrade your home for energy efficiency, the sooner you’ll enjoy lower energy use and save money. However, seasonality is something to consider. Suppose your home gets warm in some areas but cold or drafty in others during the winter.
In that case, having an audit done before the cold weather season will give you time to identify and implement energy-efficient upgrades. The same can be said for preparing your home for hot and humid weather during the summer. As such, spring and fall are often the two optimal seasons for home energy audits, and you might even consider pairing one with your semi-annual HVAC maintenance and inspection.
The right home energy audit can give you useful results. You’ll learn what areas of improvement your home has, but you’ll also get specific recommendations you can follow up with. You can apply this information towards better energy savings, more comfort, and dealing with health and safety issues. If you live in the Portland or Vancouver areas, then see what we can do for you at Revival Heating and Cooling.
Our HVAC services include installations, maintenance, repairs, and replacements. We also feature ductless heat pumps, air quality improvements, and oil/gas conversions. Contact us right away at Revival Heating and Cooling to take care of your home’s HVAC and energy needs.