Would a Professional Energy Evaluation Help You Cut Energy Costs?Published on: July 31, 2012
If you believe that your energy costs for your home are higher than they should be, a professional energy evaluation may help you. A professional energy evaluation will pinpoint areas in your home that may be costing you money in terms of energy costs. A home energy audit involves having a professional energy auditor evaluate your home’s energy usage and how well your home retains conditioned air.
Even if you don’t think your energy costs are excessive, a professional home energy audit may help you save money. A professional evaluator may be able to point out some ways that you can save money that you have never even considered.
What Happens During an Energy Audit?
A professional energy audit employs the use of several tools to determine your home’s energy efficiency. Moreover, with their experience, they know what to look for during a home energy audit. For example, the evaluator will inspect how well your doors and windows are sealed. Many people are not aware of leaks or broken seals around their windows and doors. The energy auditor will always check around windows, doors and other openings to make sure these openings are well sealed and the air that you are paying to condition is not leaking out through cracks or broken seals.
Assessment of Utility Costs
Another task the energy evaluator will perform will be an assessment of your utility bills. In fact, prior to the audit, you need to gather your utility bills for the past year. You can usually request a summary of your bills for the past year from your electricity and natural gas provider. If your utility companies are not able to provide you with this information, gather as many monthly bills as you can so that the evaluator may assess the energy usage of the home over an extended period of time.
The auditor will also ask you a series of questions about the home’s energy usage. For example, the auditor will likely ask if the home is occupied during the day. If no one is one during the day, there is potential to save energy costs by making some minor adjustments, such as installing a programmable thermostat, if you do not already have one installed. If you have a programmable thermostat, the auditor will likely recommend that you use the “Away” setting during the day, and program the temperature a few degrees higher in the summer and a few degrees lower in the winter to conserve energy.
Using your utility bills, along with a visual inspection, the evaluator will determine where the energy is being used within the home. For example, if your home uses a considerable amount of energy, as most homes do, to heat and cool the home, the auditor will indicate this point. The auditor may also suggest ways that you can lower your heating and air conditioning costs by making a few changes in how you use energy in the home.
Tools Used for an Energy Audit
Energy auditors use a variety of tools and methods to determine a home’s energy efficiency. For example, the auditor may use an infrared video or still camera to photograph the home. An infrared camera will show where heat is leaking from the home. Some leaks and cracks may not be noticeable, and some may not be readily visible. However, an infrared camera video or still shot will show heat escaping from a particular area. The auditor may also use a blower system to depressurize the home to check for leaks in the walls or around windows and doors. Using this information, the auditor can help you find the leak or crack. Repairing any leaks or cracks, as well as ensuring all windows, doors and openings are properly sealed will keep conditioned air in the home and improve the home’s energy efficiency.
Some energy auditors may use meters, gauges an thermometers to measure the air flow, as well as other measures of energy efficiency of the heating and air conditioning system. The auditor will also visually inspect the HVAC system and will check the ductwork and ventilation system. The auditor may check the type of filters you are using with your system, and he or she may ask questions about your HVAC maintenance procedures. The auditor may also check your water heater and other energy-using appliances. The evaluator may ask about the age of your HVAC system, your water heater and other appliances. The auditor may also check the insulation throughout the home.
The result of a professional energy audit will be a report that lists several tasks you could perform to improve your home’s energy efficiency. The list may include tasks you may perform without a great deal of cost, yet the report may also suggest items such as replacing an inefficient HVAC system with a newer, energy efficient model. The report will indicate any cracks or leaks in the seals around windows and doors. The report may even suggest a few changes in the way you use energy in the home, such as avoiding the use of the clothes dryer during the hottest hours of the day in the summer months. An energy audit will likely benefit any homeowner. If you believe your energy costs could be reduced, a professional home energy audit is one way to learn how.