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How Energy Efficient Is Your Home?

How Energy Efficient Is Your Home?

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It’s an unfortunate truth that fall is approaching rapidly and summer is coming to an end. While fall does bring changing leaves, fun holidays and the ever-popular pumpkin spice latte, it also brings along cooler temperatures. While breaking out sweaters and drinking warm drinks is nice, it signals that heating season is upon us.  This is especially true in Vermont with a coldest recorded temperature of -50°F (-46°C) in Bloomfield, VT in 1933. Brrr! The goal of every homeowner is to keep warm air in and cold air out and an energy audit will help you do just that.

What exactly is an energy audit? An energy audit is a process in which an energy auditor goes through the inside and outside of your home, as well as your energy bills, to determine how efficiently your home is using energy.  The auditor will likely do an exterior inspection first to determine information like wall area, number of windows etc. The auditor will also likely want to go over historical energy bills and discuss habits of the homeowner that can impact energy usage.  Then an in-depth room-by-room inspection will occur, including the attic and basement where applicable, to check windows, doors, the furnace and more. A variety of tests will be conducted including a thermographic scan (which can show where warm/cool air is leaving the home), a blower door test and others.

“What’s a blower door test?” You may ask. A blower door test is used to determine how airtight a home is. This is done by using a fan mounted in an exterior door to pull air out of the home thus lowering the air pressure inside. This causes air from the outside to rush into the home through any cracks or openings. A smoke pencil may be used to help detect air leaks (a smoke pencil lets out a non-toxic smoke or fog to help illustrate where air is entering the home). There is a helpful infographic found here from the U.S. Department of Energy that has an illustration of what the blower door test set-up will look like.

Now that you have a little more information see below for how to find an energy auditor, how to know they are the right one for you and a few things you can do to prepare:

  • Your state or local government, as well as your utility company, can likely recommend someone to use for your energy audit
  • Collect references so you have a better idea of who you are working with
  • Make sure the auditor uses a calibrated blower door for more accurate results
  • To prepare:
    • Note any issues, including:
      • Any condensation you may see collecting in your home
      • Any drafts you may have noticed
      • If a particular room/area is harder to maintain a comfortable temperature in etc.
    • Have summaries of yearly energy bills (your utility companies can prepare this for you)
    • Also, think about how to answer questions like:
      • Is there anyone home during the workday?
      • What is the average indoor temperature in the summer & winter?
      • How many people live in the home?
      • Are all of the rooms used? Etc.

Making the changes suggested by the energy audit will mean saving energy, money, and living more comfortably. Who doesn’t want that?