A professional home-energy auditor can use a variety of techniques and equipment to determine the energy efficiency of a home. Thorough audits often use equipment such as blower doors, which measure the extent of leaks in the building envelope, and infrared cameras, which reveal hard-to-detect areas of air infiltration and missing insulation.
You can assess your own home for energy consumption y knowing what to look for. Compare your heating and cooling costs by month for as many years past as you can, and look for trends in usage or obvious changes. Do you see any spikes? Can you remember why? Your utility can make older bills available to you by calling customer service.
The potential energy savings from reducing drafts in a home may range from 5% to 30% per year, and the home is generally much more comfortable afterward. Homeowners can check for indoor air leaks, such as gaps along the baseboard or edge of the flooring, and at junctures of the walls and ceiling. Air might be flowing through places such as: electrical outlets; switch plates; window frames; baseboards; weatherstripping around doors; fireplace dampers; attic hatches; and
wall- or window-mounted air conditioners. Gaps around pipes and wires, electrical outlets, foundation seals, and mail slots should be checked. Caulking and weatherstripping are should be applied properly, leaving no gaps or cracks, and should be in good condition. Homeowners can inspect windows and doors for air leaks. If they rattle, they probably leak air. If there’s daylight around a door or window frame, then the door or window leaks. Homeowners can check the storm windows to see if they fit and are not broken.
Heat loss through the ceiling and walls in your home could be very large if the insulation levels are less than the recommended minimum. When your house was built, the builder likely installed the amount of insulation recommended at that time. Given today’s energy prices (and future prices that will probably be higher), the level of insulation might be inadequate, especially if you have an older home.
While you are inspecting the attic, check to see if there is a vapor barrier under the attic insulation. The vapor barrier might be tarpaper, Kraft paper attached to fiberglass batts, or a plastic sheet. If there does not appear to be a vapor barrier, you might consider painting the interior ceilings with vapor barrier paint. This reduces the amount of water vapor that can pass through the ceiling. Large amounts of moisture can reduce the effectiveness of insulation and promote structural damage.
A professional home-energy auditor can use a variety of techniques and equipment to determine the energy efficiency of a home. Thorough audits often use equipment such as blower doors, which measure the extent of leaks in the building envelope, and infrared cameras, which reveal hard-to-detect areas of air infiltration and missing insulation. Many things can affect the energy performance of homes. An energy audit can identify the factors that contribute to the waste of energy in a home. It can also help with making the home more comfortable to the occupants. An audit can help identify factors that affect the health and safety of the occupants. The objective of an energy audit is to make recommendations that will likely improve the performance of the structure while lowering energy consumption.
There are a few precautions worth mentioning if the building envelope is “tightened.” First, the use of air barriers and air-leakage sealing practices can reduce the supply of combustion air for fuel-fired equipment (e.g., oil or gas furnaces, gas water heaters, gas dryers, etc.) that are located within the conditioned space. This can result in negative pressure and backdrafting of combustion products. The operation of spot exhaust fans (kitchen and bath), whole-house exhaust ventilation, or even the stack effect can also cause depressurization of the indoor space near combustion equipment, leading to back-drafting and the introduction of combustion byproducts, such as carbon monoxide, into the home. Because of these health and safety concerns, sealed combustion equipment is often installed when the house is “tight.”
Second, mechanical ventilation may be required or recommended to address other consequences of tightening the building envelope, such as indoor air quality (IAQ) and humidity control. For example, modern residential building codes still permit the use of operable windows as means of providing fresh-air ventilation (though this has been contested in recent years). It may be risky to rely solely on the behavior of the occupant to provide adequate ventilation in this manner in the absence of higher levels of natural ventilation.
The Barrie Home Inspector was the first professional home inspector to use Thermal Imaging in the Simcoe County area. Combining education with new technology allows clients to fully understand their new home purchases. As a Certified Building Code Official education has always been the first and foremost tool we bring to our clients.