What is an Energy Audit? …And What Isn’t It?
An energy audit is an evaluation of a building’s energy usage and leakage to determine ways to save money (and energy) and to solve comfort issues.
The term has been used to describe actions ranging from simple reviews of your energy bills, to complete professional energy analysis. Energy Audits of Chicagoland provides a complete, professional energy analysis of your home, examining only the areas you need.
Even among energy audit firms, the actions that make up an “energy audit” vary greatly. Energy auditing is a relatively new industry, and as such is still unregulated. Therefore, unfortunately, in most states (including Illinois) no training whatsoever is required to call oneself an energy auditor. Lately organizations have popped up around the nation that offer a “certification” in energy auditing. Most are simple one-day classes, advocating simple inspections, without the use of diagnostic equipment. This level of audit often can lead a homeowner down the wrong path: wasting money to solve an issue that does not truly exist, or completely missing an opportunity to save big money or solve a comfort issue.
Fortunately, the building science industry has recognized two organizations whose training and certification procedures are far superior to others: the Residential Services Network (RESNET) and the Building Performance Institute (BPI). In the few U.S. states that require certification, the procedures of these organizations were chosen to establish state requirements. Be sure your energy auditor is a certified RESNET or BPI provider.
FIVE THINGS TO INSIST UPON:
1. RESNET or BPI Certification - Widely recognized as the top two certification organizations. Currently, no other certification programs are even close.
2. Complete Reports - Always ask to see some sample reports. Technical information that you can’t understand does not help you.
3. Understand Your Options for Solutions – Be sure you know if your auditor will oversee solutions to ensure the problems identified are fixed. But also be sure you are not REQUIRED to use them for solutions.
4. Home Improvement Background – Understanding home construction is important for an audit and vital for any comfort issue diagnosis.
5. Blower Door and Thermography Training – Both are vital tools in home energy analysis and comfort issue diagnostics.
What to Expect: The Energy Audit Process
An energy audit usually take less than a full day and does not disrupt most home activities. Analysis generally included in a complete, professional energy audit include:
- Infrared Photography
- Air Infiltration Test
- Leak Location and Documentation
- Computer Modeling
- Window Evaluation
- Thermal Envelope Evaluation
- Thermal Envelope Inspection
- Heating and Cooling System Review
- Water Heater Evaluation
- Major Appliance Review
- Past Energy Usage Review
Other services sometimes provided by a professional energy audit firm include:
- Construction Specifications
- Pre- and Post-Construction Testing
- Duct System Testing
- Solution oversight and management