Posted on February 6, 2013 · Posted in Blog

What Is An Audit And Why Have One?

An auditor uses sophisticated equipment and a whole house approach to examine and diagnose the energy efficiency of your home and all of its components. The audit is an investigation of your home inside and out, from the foundation up, including the crawl space and attic, to determine the best course of action to make your home a more comfortable, healthier environment through a whole house performance approach. This approach will also save energy and money. If you experience drafts, hot and cold spots, excessive dust, mold, musty odors, ice dams in the winter, insect invasions and, or high energy bills, an energy audit is the first step to identifying cost effective methods of tackling these problems. Depending on the condition of the home and improvements made, typically homeowners can experience a 20-40% savings.

What Is Energy Star?

The US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Department of Energy developed a national symbol to highlight appliances and products which are more energy efficient versions in the market place. These products have met strict criteria set forth by the government and proven they will provide you savings month after month, year after year. Energy Star with Home Performance applies to homes and includes customer quality assurance.

Why Is The Whole House Approach Important?

Your house is a system made up of several components which work together and rely upon one another to provide a comfortable, safe and healthy environment in which to live. The foundation, framing, roofing, heating and cooling systems, insulation, ventilation, drainage and appliances are the core components an energy auditor will examine to determine the performance of your entire home as a system. This is different than a traditional construction approach which addresses each item independently. This new approach allows the contractor to effectively design and size duct work, downsize HVAC systems and ventilate the home to provide a comfortable healthy living environment.

What Tools Does The Energy Smart Home Auditor Use?

Our auditors use the latest technology and diagnostic equipment to test air leakage, gas appliance safety and levels of insulation in your home. Tectite multi-point computer technology in conjunction with a blower door test and manometer are used to determine the amount and rate of air leakage in your home. Utilizing Infrared Thermography technology and room to room diagnostics, the auditor will pinpoint the exact location of leakage and areas where insulation should be addressed. The auditor may also utilize pressure pan testing and diagnostic smoke to locate air leakage. Supplemental services could include Delta Q testing or a duct blaster test of duct leakage.

How Will An Audit Help Me?

An energy audit is the first step to pinpoint were the energy deficits are in your home so that you will know, without confusion or doubt, the best course of action to achieve energy efficiency in your home. Without an audit, homeowners can choose ineffective repairs and make costly mistakes. For example, an upgrade in insulation is far less effective without locating air infiltration and exfiltration in the building envelope and proper air sealing. Contrary to popular belief, window replacement may not be a necessary expense to achieve a substantial savings on your energy bill or the retrofit that will provide the greatest return on your investment. Addressing a leaky duct system in the unconditioned space might be part of the equation that allows you to down size the HVAC system when it is replaced. This may also correct excessive dust problems and the spread of contaminants throughout the home.

An auditor can also help you with other energy choices. Is your home suited to hot water on demand or solar? What is an ERV or HRV and how could it help you? Could your home benefit from the clean air and the healthy environment a whole house ventilation system would supply? Is replacement of an outdated appliance with a new Energy Star version the cost appropriate thing to do? Where is electricity unknowingly and unnecessarily being wasted in your home? These questions and more can be answered by having a whole house energy audit from Energy Smart Homes.

Is Every Audit Created Equal?

If you sell widgets, all your buying advice might look like a widget. Furthermore, anyone can call themselves an auditor or inspector. Energy Smart Homes has experienced, trained and certified people to provide you an impartial audit. Our improvement recommendations and expert advice are based on whole building performance science and the repairs that will bring you the greatest return on your investment. Our approach is objective. Our auditor is a skilled investigator.

Why Is The Rate Of Air Leakage Important? Isn’t My Home Supposed To Breathe?

According to ASHRAE, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, homes need to be properly ventilated for a healthy living environment and safe operation of gas appliances. They recommend that one third of the volume of air inside a home exchange with fresh air every hour. Leakage rates greater than this are an unnecessary waste of energy. Collectively, this leakage can be equivalent to leaving a large window open 24/7, 365 days a year.

Additionally, air that is derived from the attic or crawl spaces is typically contaminated with insulation and pesticide particulates as well as mold spores which are unhealthy for human consumption. Your home, no matter its age, may have excessive leakage which supplies your whole house with dirty, contaminated air.

Why Is An Energy Auditor Concerned About Moisture?

Moisture is the enemy to building components, shortening their lifespan and effective use. Mold growth resulting from wet building components creates unhealthy air quality. It is important to address moisture issues to maintain a sustainable, healthy living environment in your home. Many times problems can be resolved in relatively inexpensive ways and need not go un-addressed indefinitely.

What Are Typical Recommendations?

Air sealing followed by an upgrade in insulation is one of the most effective measures a home owner can take producing an excellent return on investment. Duct leakage repair can eliminate uneven temperatures in the home, the infiltration of contaminants and lower utility bills. Reduction in water consumption, especially hot water, is commonly addressed by replacement of an old and inefficient hot water heater with newer technology which uses substantially less energy. Installation of low flow aerators and use substantially less water. Moisture remediation through proper drainage and vapor barriers may be recommended. Replacement of an older HVAC system with a high efficiency furnace and high SEER air conditioner and appliance replacement with Energy Star versions may be among the recommendations to help you begin saving energy consumption and reducing your energy bills. Our auditor will personally work with you to develop a plan that best suits your energy efficiency goals.

Does One Size Fit All?

There are common recommendations, however and auditor diagnostically tests and investigates your home to develop a plan that is specific to your house. The goal is to identify measures which will be most beneficial to you.

How Is Air Quality Addressed?

Air quality is diagnosed by calculating the amount of air infiltration, conducting an investigation of the location air infiltrates and an evaluation of contaminates in that area. For example, attic air filled with insulation dust and pesticide particulates as well as moist air from crawl spaces latent with mold spores is very unhealthy for human consumption. Use of mechanical ventilation systems will eliminate these hazards.

How Long Does An Audit Take?

Depending on the size and complexity of the structure of your home, your audit will take 3-5 hours, maybe longer for larger homes. We encourage you to learn first hand what our investigations reveal by accompanying us throughout your home during the audit. This will be especially helpful to you whether you will monitoring contractors or doing some or all of the work yourself.

Does The Whole House, Home Performance Approach Really Work?

Absolutely! Following the recommendations of a whole house energy audit will typically result in saving you 20-40% on annual energy costs, increase the comfort of your home, improve air quality and maintain the sustainability of your home. Reduction of air leakage not only directly saves energy usage it may also allow you to downsize your next heating and cooling appliance for exponential savings. Nothing adds more property value than improvements that make a home more comfortable, efficient, healthy and sustainable.

Who Will Do The Work?

Energy Smart Homes provides objective and impartial audits. We will refer you to trusted insulators, home improvement contractors and HVAC companies who are trained and certified in whole house performance to complete the improvements for you. Our detailed audit is everything they will need to retrofit your home. We will also work with you if you choose to do the work yourself.

How Do I Know They Did The Repairs Correctly?

When repairs have been completed, Energy Smart Homes will return to your home and complete a re-inspection. We will run our diagnostic testing a second time, verify contractor work and certify the improvements in your home.

What Affect Will My Energy Efficient Home Have On The Environment?

Did you know the typical household is responsible for twice the greenhouse gas emissions as the average car? Living a greener lifestyle through recycling efforts helps reduce your impact on the planet. However, air sealing and insulating, replacement of older inefficient appliances with new high efficiency systems, efficient lighting and reduction of water usage can significantly reduce your carbon footprint. Reduction of carbon will help restore balance to our eco system.

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