Dwelling Power Audit – Bob Vila

Photo: shaneshirleysmith.com

Homeowners are looking for ways to save energy and still have a positive impact on the environment. Here are some constructive ways to reduce your home’s energy consumption and save both energy and money.

Rely on these advantages
According to the Ministry of Energy, heating and cooling are the greatest energy requirements in your house and account for 56 percent of energy consumption.

An audit increases the thermal efficiency of your house. This is the general ability to keep the heat inside in winter and heat outside in summer. Since every home is different, only a home energy auditor can tell you the specific locations in your home that require attention.

“People get an energy audit analysis for reasons other than energy use and economic benefits,” said Katie Ackerly, a research fellow at the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) in Washington, DC. “It can add value to your home while improving your comfort.”

Careful examination of the functioning of the entire house increases the air quality. According to Ackerly, replacing your current HVAC system with a more efficient one will reduce the noise level in your home as the new units are much quieter. A few more advantages: Increased speed and efficiency of the hot water supply and after completing the audit you will get a better knowledge of how your house works.

However, the actual payout occurs when the professional auditor has completed the assessment and established a quantified list of areas that need attention.

Dan Gibson, owner of Home Energy Advisors of Ballston Lake, NY, says, “The list enables you to make good borrowing decisions to make the changes you need.” And it makes good sense to borrow that money for home energy improvements as you will reduce your energy bills in the long run. The science-based home audit provides a potential lender with the supportive method to maintain a loan application.

In today’s green world, you may be able to get a new home energy mortgage, or if you currently own a home, you can upgrade the quality of an existing loan.

Bring the house up to scratch
Energy auditors can use one or more methods to assess a home: a blower door, an infrared camera, a duct blaster to check ducts for leaks. They can also provide their reports in a number of ways: a spreadsheet for analyzing utility bills, a list of corrections needed, etc. Homeowners can expect payments between $ 200 and $ 700 as the price depends on the location, size of the home, and complexity the layout.

He then inspects the windows, doors, and the outside to make sure everything is tight. Next, Gibson tackles the insulation in the attic and basement. “I’m doing a solar access survey to see if the sun can be used,” says Gibson. “Some people have great opportunities, but never use the energy-saving advantages of the sun.”

Using an infrared camera to look for cold spots throughout the house, he explains, “Some of these cold spots may not have insulation or cracks that let cold air in.” With a blower door test that depressurizes the house, Gibson diagnoses major leaks in the basement, attic, porch overhangs, and garage.

He summarizes his results for the homeowner into categories that encompass large and small opportunities and health and / or safety issues. While this is not part of the research process, Gibson does notify its customers of the incentives and credits available. “At the end of this phase, customers will have enough information to decide on the second phase by completing the improvements. You will know the odds, how much it will cost and how much you can save. “

In the second phase of the assessment, Gibson uses computer software to create an energy model of the house. It includes the walls, windows, doors, the heating system and the type of fuel used in the house. He then takes the existing energy bill and compares it to the model to see if the apartment is using as much energy as the model estimated. He gets rough estimates of all the improvements considered and then performs a cost-benefit analysis to determine how much money and energy can be saved by each improvement.

When Gibson meets with customers again, they review all the results and the homeowner decides what improvements to make. When clients want him to do the job, he finds qualified contractors to get it done.

At the end of the audit and fixes, Gibson says he’ll do one final test to see exactly how much tighter the house is. He also does an additional safety test to make sure the devices are properly vented.

The Green Home Upgrade
“Having an energy-efficient home is like insuring against rate increases,” said Harry Ford, administrator of the California Building Performance Contractors Association (CBPCA) in Oakland, CA. “It’s a way of making your home stand out.”

Selling a home with eco-friendly improvements just got easier. “Buyer demand for energy-efficient homes is growing,” says Ford, whose association works closely with the Home Performance with Energy Star program. As a national program with the Environmental Protection Agency, the program offers a comprehensive approach to in-house energy audits in 19 states across the country. More states will be added shortly.

Contact your utility directly to see what programs are available, call an independent energy auditor, or put on your “do-it-yourself” cap and seek assistance from several organizations, including the Building Performance Institute and the Home Performance Program with Energy Star or Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET).

Homeowners may be eligible for utility, local, state, and state discounts or tax incentives for energy efficient upgrades. See DSIRE, the database of government incentives for renewable energy and efficiency.

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