By Brettt Reilly, Tapa Homes
If you are sick of high home energy bills I have the remedy. Start with a Home Energy Audit (HEA) that will diagnose and evaluate the symptoms of your home.
What is a Home Energy Audit (HEA)? It is the stethoscope, the tongue depressor, the tool that diagnoses and evaluates the symptoms of your sick home. Typical symptoms include one or more cold/hot rooms in the house, drafty areas of the house, moldy or mildew odors, and of course high energy bills (electric, propane, oil).
The four basic areas that an auditor will cover are the exterior, the combustion devices (propane/gas heater, hot water heater, fire place, gas range, etc.), the ventilation system including duct work, and energy bills.
An HEA starts with a walk around the exterior of the house to determine how many penetrations sites are in the house. For every vent the home has, such as the range or cook-top, bathroom, dryer, fire place, and plumbing, there is a hole or penetration site in the home’s exterior walls and roof. Those are places for possible leaks.
The next areas the audit will examine are the combustion devices. Newer hot water heater and home heating systems that are sealed will be checked to make sure they are vented properly to the outside. Systems will be tested to make sure that no carbon monoxide is going into the house. Older hot water heaters and heating systems will be tested to make sure that they are igniting properly and burning properly.
The third area, and probably the one that is the most dramatic, is the ventilation which is assessed with a blower door test while using a thermal imaging scanner. This is like a blood pressure test for your house. It will tell you how sick your home is by analyzing how air tight your home is; the tighter the better.
The blower door test basically takes all the air out of the house, depressurizing the house, to a certain level or base line. With the house depressurized each room can be tested separately to determine how bad the leaks are. For example, if a door is opened half way and closes by itself that means there is a serious leak in that room.
Finally, a professional will look at the energy bills and talk about the results of the HEA and what the goals are based on that information. A report detailing the problem areas and suggestions on how to fix them will be presented.
From personal experience I can say it is well worth the time and money to learn what I did not want to know, but needed to know. It took me about six months to address most of the problems.
To build more energy efficient homes for my customers I became a certified home energy auditor where I start with the energy bills. I believe energi zing our homes carries a much larger price tag than we realize. To me, it is all about reducing the energy costs of our homes.
Since the HEA I had done I have reduced my energy bills by 15%. I am still testing and trying new techniques and technologies to get my bills lower. This can only help save money and reduce the need for energy.