Google+ House Revivals: What to Expect from a Home Energy Audit

Saturday, November 9, 2013

What to Expect from a Home Energy Audit

I recently shared why we decided to get an energy audit for our beach house.   We LOVE our beach house, and being able to share it with our family and our friends, but the west side of the house was cold, not energy efficient, and cost a fortune to heat.  We knew we needed to do something, but we wanted to make sure we made the best use of resources to make improvements.  Sooooo, we had an energy audit done.

This is what you can expect if you are planning to have an energy audit done for your house.

First, you cannot have a fire going in your fireplace. If the auditor arrives, and you have a fire going, or embers leftover from a fire, he will have to leave and reschedule. Second, he will arrive with lots of equipment. Our auditor brought blowers, gadgetry, a thermal imaging camera, adhesive plastic coverings for all the vents, ducting for testing the heating system, and a bright reddish pink cover for our front door that cast a bordello-like glow over everything. Most of his gear fit into these Mary Poppins bags:

This little gadget and sensors were used by the auditor to glean -- through technology and possibly some magic -- how well the house was performing, as he put it through it's paces.  The auditor can read his device and have a really good idea how tight the house is.

The thermal imaging camera was my favorite part of the whole test.  It was pretty eye-opening to see just how leaky my house was!  Do you see, in the pictures below, the lavender, blue, and dark violet areas?Those are cold areas.  The really dark areas are where it was really, really cold.

Basically, the auditor puts a blower in the doorway, blowing out. This creates negative pressure in the house, and pulls colder outside air into the house through every crack and crevice.  Then the auditor goes around the house with the thermal imaging camera and records where the house is leaking.

We were leaking around our french doors to the kitchen.

Basically, every electrical outlet on exterior walls leaked.

The corners where wall met ceiling were very leaky.

The windows were very leaky, as was the seam between the fireplace and the wall.

Next, the auditor taped off the intake vent and ran some ductwork to it.

The duct work was hooked up to a blower. This was to test how tight our heating system's duct work is. It's pretty tight!

While this test was being done, the blower hole on the red door cover was closed off. The last test, was on our heat pump, to check its efficiency. Our climate is pretty hard on heat pumps, so even relatively newer pumps can have issues. Our heat pump did great. The entire audit process took a few hours.

Then the auditor packed everything up, pulled all the tape off all the vents, and sat down to review his findings with us. He made some recommendations right away, and sent us a full report, with additional recommendations a couple of weeks later.

I recommend that you take the day off, so you can go through the entire audit process with your auditor, the explanations and recommendations that you will get throughout the process will make it well worth your time!

We are in the process of implementing his recommendations, and look forward to a much more comfortable home this winter!  It is great to know exactly where we should be concentrating our efforts, so we are not wasting our time, energy, or money.

To read about the three most important reasons 
to get an energy audit, click here.

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