It is the arrival of the new year; what better time to maximize the energy efficiency in your home? An energy audit is the best way to locate and address existing problems in your home that contribute to excess energy consumption.
Before an energy auditor comes to your home, it’s important to be prepared in order to make the auditing process flow as smoothly as possible. Make a list of existing problems in your home such as drafty or generally cold rooms or condensation on windows, and also collect copies or summaries of yearly energy bills. Auditors will review this information and often ask questions to determine the resident’s behaviours such as:
- Does anyone remain at home during normal work hours?
- What is the typical thermostat setting for winter and summer?
- How many people live in the home?
- Is every room in use?
During an energy audit, the auditor will perform an assessment normally lasting between three and four hours to address each sub-system in your home including:
- Insulation and air sealing
- Water heating
- Foundation, framing and roofing
- Heating, ventilation and air conditioning
- Combustion appliance zone
Energy audits normally employ tests such as a blower door test and a thermographic scan to determine the energy efficiency of a home. A blower door test helps assess how airtight a home is. Ensuring the home’s proper air tightness can reduce energy consumption, limit moisture condensation issues and prevent uncomfortable drafts caused by air leaks. During a blower door test, a powerful fan is mounted into the frame of an exterior door. When turned on, the fan pulls all the air out of the home, lowering the indoor air pressure. Higher outside pressure then leaks into the home through any unsealed openings or cracks. The auditor will make note of these openings and recommend ways to fix them.
Thermographic scans are another tool used to identify thermal defects or air leakage. Thermographic tools measure surface temperatures by using infrared video and still cameras to see heat in the light spectrum. These tests are often performed in conjunction with blower door tests as the blower door helps magnify air leaking through defects in the home’s exterior. In addition to detecting air leaks, thermographic tests have many benefits including the detection of unusually hot electrical connections, excessive heat caused by friction and the effectiveness of the home’s insulation.
There are several places to find energy auditing services. Your electric or gas utility company may perform energy assessments or be able to recommend local auditors. Your state or local government energy office can also refer you to an energy auditing company or organization.
By addressing any issues found during an energy audit, you can improve your energy savings, enjoy a more comfortable home, take advantage of available tax credits and rest assured that you’ve done your part to improve the environment by minimizing your home’s energy consumption.