Home Energy Audits & Recommendations
Experience has taught the home performance community that improving your house is team effort.
We know that if a home performance contractor, doing business the normal way, does a home energy audit, there’s a 30% chance any work will get done. If an independent home energy consultant just does the home energy audit, there’s a 10% chance any work will get done. However, when any home energy consultant makes the recommendations while working with the home performance contractors who will do the work, there’s a 90% chance.
Somebody has to bridge the gap between the audit and the work to develop the scope of work who is patient and be willing to go through the selection process multiple times, sometimes over a period of years.
Discussions in this article include
Home Energy Audits
Home performance improvements begin with a home energy audit—a home performance assessment. Sometimes they’re called home energy survey or a home energy assessment.
Home energy audits are performed by home energy consultants, otherwise known as home energy assessors and home energy inspectors.
Homeowner Interview. Home energy audits begins with an interview with the homeowners to find out what concerns they have, any health issues, and to find out how the house behaves. The answers help diagnose the house and make appropriate recommendation.
During the interview at least the last 12 months of utility bills are requested
Visual Assessment. Following the interview, a visual inspection is made of all areas of the building, inside and out. Your home energy consultant is trying to find building air leaks, insulation presence, duct leaks, adequate ventilation, water heater installation, heating & cooling system installation, moisture issues, and water use. Home energy assessors will also evaluate windows, doors, appliances, and lighting.
For In-Home Energy Surveys, the house energy audit is complete after this step. For other types of home energy audits, diagnostic testing is next.
Diagnostic Testing. After understanding how the building components are installed, several tests may follow. A blower door is used to quantify air infiltration and find air leaks. After covering all the registers, a Duct Blaster is used to determine duct air leakage. Pressure tests are made near areas with fossil fuel appliances in them, such as gas water heaters and furnaces. Carbon monoxide levels are measured too.
For many homeowners, a Diagnostic Home Energy Survey is all that is needed to make recommendations for home energy and other improvements.
Energy Modeling. Sometimes further analysis is needed to make better decisions, especially about remodeling and heating & cooling system design. For that, energy modeling is necessary.
Given the complexity of the relationships for central heating & cooling systems to operate at peak performance, it’s worth analyzing the heat load characteristics of the house on a room-by-room basis. A heating & cooling system needs to installed based on principles, rather than rules of thumb.
Sometimes, sensitivity analysis is needed, given ranges of home energy improvement options. A HERS model can be used to simulate various alternatives by modeling home energy use. It also helps know when and how well goals have been met before spending money on improvements.
Analyses. After spending a better part of day performing the home energy assessment, the home energy consultant analyzes the results and puts together whole-house home energy improvement options. The analyses include improvement priorities and any energy modeling.
Contractor Discussions. Without making any commitments or revealing identities, our home energy consultants may discuss the results of the audit with qualified home performance contractors in the relevant home performance improvement program. The result a list of interested companies ready, willing, and able to the work proposed. It also improves the quality of recommendations.
Homeowner Presentations. Your home energy consultant prepares a report for presentation. The purpose of this first presentation is to discuss the results of the home energy audit and provide recommendations.
Our home energy consultants understand education is part of the process. Before making decisions issues and proposed solutions need to be understood. Alternatives need to be explored. Real desires and limitations need to be revealed. The first set of recommendations is expected to be rejected and another appointment scheduled.
At some point, it’s appropriate to begin developing proposals to do the work. As your building consultant for life, Home InSight is prepared to discuss your project with your home performance contractors or privately with you at any time. Improving your house is a team effort. Once work begins, the home performance contractors take the lead because they are responsible for the work and results.
Preparing for a Home Energy Audit
To prepare for a home energy audit, please do the following:
1. Provide at least 12 months of utility bills while the house was occupied
If only a visual assessment is being done as part of an In-Home Energy Survey, the utility bills are all that is needed.
Home Energy Audit Processes
The general home energy audit described above has several technical processes involved in evaluating your house.
These articles referenced above follow this format.
Introduction. This section introduces the home energy audit process and provides links to interesting parts of the home performance improvement process.
Current State of <Topic>. This section presents home performance statistics for existing houses.
Contributing Issues. This section tries to begin to explain primary reasons why existing house are in the state they are in. They need to be understood to avoid similar problems while improving your house.
Concepts. This section explains the physics principles involved in a homeowner-friendly manner. All the systems of the house work together to manage moisture, provide indoor air quality, and limit energy transfer. Knowing what’s going makes it easier to understand recommendations.
These articles are intended to provide a high level overview to help interested home owners understand the processes and related concerns. They are helpful for understanding what is or was done during the audit.