For most people, the word audit conjures up images of an IRS agent taking money from them in large amounts. However, not all cases of audits are bad things. For example, there is one type that can help you save a great deal of money over time. It is important for everyone to understand the basics of what is involved with a home energy audit.
Whenever a consumer requests an energy audit of their residence, a technician will come in and inspect the different elements of the home that have been linked to increased energy consumption. This will include a thorough inspection of all of the openings leading into the home. Doors and windows will be inspected to see how tightly they seal when closed. Any cracks or spaces allowing air to travel between inside and outside will be noted and pointed out to the owner.
This inspection is mostly done visually. However, there are specialized tools that technicians employ to determine exactly how much impact these openings can have on one’s ability to heat or cool the home. The technicians will also check the weather stripping around windows and doors to determine its condition. In some cases, age and deterioration may make it necessary to replace weather stripping in order to avoid the development of leaks later.
The techs will also examine the insulation in the attic, below the floors, and in the walls. They will assess the R-value of the insulation and compare it against the recommendations for the region where the home is located. If the insulation currently in place has a lower value, the techs will recommend replacement or addition of additional insulation to bring the total R-value to the recommended level.
Heat and air ducts will be inspected to assure they remain airtight. Over time, different stresses can be placed on the ducts that can create openings at the joints between adjacent sections. These leaks can reduce the amount of heated or cooled air that gets into the structure and cause the furnace or air conditioning unit to run more than would normally be required.
In addition to the joints, ducts will also be inspected for proper insulation. Improperly insulated ducts can allow heat to leak out or enter from the outside through radiation and convection. This will also reduce the efficiency of climate control units.
The installed furnace, air conditioner, and water heater will also be inspected. Newer models are generally more energy efficient than older ones because of advances made in the ways in which they operate. However, in many cases, it is possible to make some adjustments to existing installations that can make them operate more efficiently. If such adjustments are not possible, replacement with newer, more efficient models may be recommended.
Finally, all the doors and windows will be sealed and a large blower set up that will blow all the interior air through the front door. The interior will be examined using the infrared spectrum to locate even the tiniest openings that allow hot air from outside to enter the home. This will allow the tech to point out all of the problem areas that need to be addressed in order to minimize the use of energy to keep the home comfortable.