Interest in energy audits has recently increased as a result of growing understanding of human impact upon global warming and climate change. Buildings are complex and contain numerous systems that interact, sometimes in not so obvious ways unless you are properly trained to understand these dynamics. You’ll want to have the assessment and then improvement performed right the first time by making sure both parts of the process are completed by certified professionals.
An energy audit is an inspection and analysis of energy flows in a building with the objective of understanding the energy efficiency home or building being audited. Typically an energy audit is conducted to seek opportunities to reduce the amount of energy used by the home or facility without negatively affecting the comfort of the home or the production/output in case of a business. This includes identifying the systems and areas of opportunity that will have the greatest impact in improving comfort, indoor air quality, durability and reliability, energy efficiency, as well as the health and safety of the occupants.
The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that having an energy audit performed on your home and making the suggested recommendations like sealing cracks, leaks and properly insulating your home could save you 25% or more on your yearly energy consumption. Depending on the size of your home and the extent and type of energy efficiency upgrades performed, your savings will vary. The cost of a CCF of natural or propane gas and the cost of a kWh of electricity will affect your yearly savings. However, your savings could be from several hundred dollars to over a thousand dollars per year.
Before the energy auditor visits your house, make a list of any existing problems such as condensation and uncomfortable or drafty rooms. Typically utility bills are collected for twelve to thirty-six months to allow the auditor to evaluate the home or facility's energy consumption history and energy usage profiles. Auditors also use this information to establish what to look for during the audit.
- Historical Data Analysis - Utility bills are collected for 1-3 years to evaluate the home or facility's energy consumption history and energy usage profiles.
- Do-It-Yourself Home Energy Audits - A diligent do-it-yourself walk-through keeping a checklist of repairs or changes needed to increase home energy efficiency. Sealing cracks and leaks can save 5-30% on heating bills in winter.
- Walk-through audits - A brief review of the home or facility's utility bills and other operating data, and a walk-through of the home or business to become familiar with the building operation and identify glaring areas of energy waste or inefficiency.
- Professional energy audit by certified energy auditor/energy rater - Many professional energy audits will include a blower door test. Most will also include a thermography scan and will identify all energy conservation measures appropriate for the home or business.
The first step is to look for a BPI (Building Performance Institute) Certified Building Analyst or other Certified Energy Auditor from reputable certifying organization. Also, try and select an auditor who has some real-world experience and who uses the proper tools to perform the audit.
When choosing an auditor for a “professional energy audit,” ask them if they use these proper tools:
- Combustible gas leak detector
- Carbon Monoxide analyzer
- Combustion Analyzer
- Digital manometer
- Blower door
- Duct Leakage testing equipment
- Thermal imaging camera
Reference: Wikipedia, Reference: U.S. Dept. of Energy, Reference: GARD Analytics, Inc.