How Could A Home Energy Audit Benefit Your Home?

home energy auditYou’d be surprised if you knew how much energy your Huntsville area home is wasting on a daily basis throughout the year . You’d also be happy to learn that you’re not powerless in dealing with an energy-wasting home. A home energy audit conducted by a certified professional will tell you exactly how much energy your home is wasting, as well as where it’s occurring and how to reduce the energy waste. The result will be lower energy bills and a more comfortable home.

How Much Can You Save?

The federal Energy Star program estimates you can save between 5 and 30 percent on energy bills after a professional home energy audit or assessment, providing you follow the technician’s recommendations. Usually, the suggested steps include relatively inexpensive improvements such as adding insulation and sealing air leaks. However, if you have old, leaky windows or doors, or outdated, energy-wasting HVAC equipment, there’s no sugar-coating it. Creating an airtight, energy-efficient home will require a significant investment.

What Happens During a Home Energy Audit?

The energy auditor will discuss your household energy use with you and ask to look at utility bills over an extended period of time. He or she will visually inspect health and safety aspects of your home’s infrastructure and HVAC systems.

A standard step in an energy audit is a blower door test. In this test, a powerful fan and door cover is fitted into an exterior door frame, positioned to blow outward. After the fan is turned on, it sucks air from the house, depressurizing the interior. (Before the test, all other windows and doors will be closed and interior doors opened throughout the house.) An air pressure gauge measures how quickly the interior air pressure returns to its normal level. If it regains standard pressure quickly, your home has significant air leakage. If it takes more time to re-pressurize, that means your home is relatively airtight.

An infrared camera is generally used in tandem with the blower door test. Aimed at the walls, it measures heat, with darker colors signifying cooler temperatures and lighter colors warmer temps. The imaging reveals where air is leaking into or out of the house. It can also be used to determine where insulation is lacking in the walls and ceilings.

The home energy audit will also likely look at the ductwork to make sure the air distribution system is balanced. Humidity control also will be assessed, since too much or too little humidity can result in adverse health effects, as well as uncomfortable cooling and heating.

You Can Do It Yourself

You also can do your own modified home energy audit or assessment. Take a lighted incense stick or smoke pencil and patrol the interior of your home’s exterior walls on a windy day. Focus on common areas for air leaks, including windows and doors, penetrations for plumbing, electrical wiring and vents, and places where building materials meet, such as the foundation and walls. Where the smoke wavers, you’ve found an air leak.

Insulation is a bit tougher to assess on your own, though you can go into the attic and quickly determine whether you’ve got enough on the floor. The insulation should rise to the top of the floor joists.

As you can probably tell, this is a pretty low-tech way of assessing energy waste in your home. While it will reveal some of the more obvious spots where you can improve efficiency, you’ll want a comprehensive home energy audit to get a full picture.

So What Now?

Your energy audit report should include a list or recommendations for improving your home’s energy efficiency. It will likely suggest sealing air leaks throughout your home’s exterior envelope using weatherstripping, caulk or spray foam. Adding insulation, in walls, floors, the attic and ductwork may also show up on the list. Upgrading inefficient, leaky windows and doors to double-pane models with low-E coatings is another common recommendation.

Finally, the audit may suggest upgrading old, inefficient heating and cooling systems. While investing in new HVAC equipment has a significant cost, the reduction in energy bills over the years eventually will pay off that investment.

To discuss what’s involved in a comprehensive home energy audit, and to review the benefits and costs, please contact us today at WA Air Conditioning. We’ve provided outstanding HVAC services to the Huntsville, Trinity, Waterwood areas for more than 25 years. We also participate in the Energy Star Home Performance Evaluation Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

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December 16, 2014 1:33 pm