Five Steps To Making the Most of Your Home Energy Audit
So you've decided to have a home energy audit conducted for your home. Smart choice. You are about take the crucial first step toward whipping your house into shape. Herein, a few quick tips to help you make the most of that experience, by preparing yourself and your home.
1. Prepare Your Self
Have your recent utility bills handy, and know the dimensions of your home. Make a list of the likely energy sapping culprits in your house. (There is fun to be had, and learning to be done, by guessing wrong)
2. Prepare Your House
Your auditor has probably told you this, but just in case: Close and tighten all windows. Be prepared to turn on major systems --bathroom fans, dryer, kitchen appliances, etc. Your auditor will turn off the boiler before he or she gets underway. And pick up your dirty undies - yep, auditors need to look in all the nooks and crannies, and even your drawers.
3. Practice Energy Audit Buddhism (Be Present)
We strongly suggest being fully present and engaged when your home is being audited. You will be provided with a fire hose of information. Take notes about theliterally hundreds of opportunities for small but consequential improvements that you can do yourself. (Some of the larger retrofits will likely require a pro). When your auditor says, "Seal this crack," (maybe 50 times over), be sure you keep a good record of where, with what tools and materials, and how to do a good job. Don't be afraid to ask questions. And *definitely* ask to take a peek in the infrared camera. It’s cool.
4. Know what to expect: A visual inspection. An auditor is likely to spend some time assessing the quality of insulation, moisture penetration and air leakage by walking around your home with you. In order to gain a full understanding of your existing insulation, an auditor may want to cut a small hole in your wall. Ideally this will be done in an unobtrusive place, like the back of a closet, and the auditor will offer to close it up. (Don't expect an offer to sand and paint it, however).
5. Know what to expect: The Blower Door Test
Ever located a puncture in a basketball by submerging it in the tub and looking for the source of the bubbles? You can’t do that with your house. The next best thing is the blower door test, an instrumented evaluation that verifies your home’s air tightness. To conduct the test, the auditor closes all exterior doors and windows. He seals one exterior door and inserts a large fan to draw air from the house. He or she will measure the rate of airflow required to keep your home at a constant pressure, which tells him (and you) how well your house resists air infiltration. When the air pressure in your home is reduced, it is easier to detect airflow in - through cracks, leaks, and structural faults.
The blower door test is safe for your home, all humans, and for large pets like cats and dogs. Birds and other smaller animals should be moved to an area where they won’t be affected, and -- do we really have to say this? -- domesticated birds should be kept in their cages.