During a professional home energy audit the auditor will conduct an examination of the outside of the house and each internal space, as well as assess past utility bills. To prepare for the audit you should do several things: 1) list existing problems or concerns you have with any part of your home, such as drafts, condensation, etc.; and 2) copy or summarize your home's energy bills for the past several years. Utility companies can provide these. The energy audit will take into consideration the structure's features such as its size, the number of windows and doors, seasonal thermostat settings, each room's amount and time of use and many other related factors.
Benefits of a professional audit include accuracy and possible immediate energy conserving measures at the time of the audit.
Professional auditors may conduct a blower door test to find a home's air infiltration rate.
A strong fan mounted into an exterior door's frame pulls air out of the house. This lowers the air pressure inside and causes higher outside air pressure to flow through all unsealed openings and cracks. This useful
information is used to correct air leakage, moisture condensation, drafts, and possible indoor air pollution problems. If you have a blower door
test, request that the auditor use a "calibrated" rather than
an "uncalibrated" door. The calibrated blower door uses several
gauges to quantify the air pulled by the fan and the air sealing effectiveness. The uncalibrated blower door locates leaks only and does not determine
the tightness of the home.
A thermographic inspection or infrared scanning test may be used to determine thermal defects and
any air leakage in your home. This is done with use of an infrared video and still cameras which see light in the heat spectrum. Thermography can determine whether or not insulation is needed or if it has been installed correctly.
If you want or need information concerning residential energy efficiency, there also are organizations which can be helpful. The Residential Energy Services Network is dedicated to the promotion of residential energy efficiency through home energy rating programs which contain financing for energy efficiency improvements. It is a broad spectrum membership national organization
comprised of various housing, consumer, and financial entities working
to promote residential energy efficiency and affordability. One of
their most important contributions to the residential energy efficiency field is the development of voluntary national guidelines to standardize home energy rating methods.
Other organizations such as the Energy Efficient Building Association (EEBA) and Affordable Comfort, Inc. should be good resources for consumers nationwide to find qualified residential energy auditors. Affordable Comfort, Inc. and the Energy Efficient Building Association promote residential efficiency through the dissemination of information and training, and both should be good sources for contacting technically reliable residential energy auditors.
There are some preliminary steps that should be taken before contracting with any company for the audit:
Contact at least three references for each company you consider. Ask about the auditor's work and the home owner's level of satisfaction.
Contact the Better Business Bureau and local utility regarding any records, complaints, etc. of the company's reputation.
Insist that the auditor use a calibrated blower door for the most accurate and effective assessment.
- Ask for a thermographic inspection. In some instances, it may be necessary to contract another company for this.
These precautions should allow an effective and very helpful determination of your home's energy efficiency needs. You can expect new energy efficiency procedures to contribute toward both money saved and comfort enjoyed.
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The MEA has a quantity of booklets entitled, "ENERGY SAVERS: Tips on Saving Energy & Money at Home." If you would like a copy, e-mail DLinfo_MEA@maryland.gov or call 1-800-72-ENERGY.