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Energy Audits, and What Is It?

Home Inspector with BeSure Home Inspection Service

After my last post concerning my new low cost thermal energy audit program. I was asked if I could describe in basic terms what I do when I preform the energy audits. Here is a check list of sorts that even you can do, but I am here to complete it if you want a written report for verification purposes.

Locating Air Leaks

First, make a list of obvious air leaks (drafts). 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. Check for indoor air leaks, such as gaps along the baseboard or edge of the flooring and at junctures of the walls and ceiling. Check to see if air can flow through these places: 

·Electrical outlets

·Switch plates

·Window frames


·Weather stripping around doors

·Fireplace dampers

·Attic hatches

•Wall- or window-mounted air conditioners. 

Also look for gaps around pipes and wires, electrical outlets, foundation seals, and mail slots. Check to see if the caulking and weather stripping are applied properly, leaving no gaps or cracks, and are in good condition.

Inspect windows and doors for air leaks. See if you can rattle them, since movement means possible air leaks. If you can see daylight around a door or window frame, then the door or window leaks. You can usually seal these leaks by caulking or weather stripping them. Check the storm windows to see if they fit and are not broken. You may also wish to consider replacing your old windows and doors with newer, high-performance ones. If new factory-made doors or windows are too costly, you can install low-cost plastic sheets over the windows.

If you are having difficulty locating leaks, you may want to conduct a basic building pressurization test:

1.First, close all exterior doors, windows, and fireplace flues.
2.Turn off all combustion appliances such as gas burning furnaces and water heaters.
3.Then turn on all exhaust fans (generally located in the kitchen and bathrooms) or use a large window fan to suck the air out of the rooms.

This test increases infiltration through cracks and leaks, making them easier to detect. You can use incense sticks or your damp hand to locate these leaks. If you use incense sticks, moving air will cause the smoke to waver, and if you use your damp hand, any drafts will feel cool to your hand.

On the outside of your house, inspect all areas where two different building materials meet, including: 

·All exterior corners

·Where siding and chimneys meet

·Areas where the foundation and the bottom of exterior brick or siding meet.

You should plug and caulk holes or penetrations for faucets, pipes, electric outlets, and wiring. Look for cracks and holes in the mortar, foundation, and siding, and seal them with the appropriate material. Check the exterior caulking around doors and windows, and see whether exterior storm doors and primary doors seal tightly. 

When sealing any home, you must always be aware of the danger of indoor air pollution and combustion appliance "back drafts." Back drafting is when the various combustion appliances and exhaust fans in the home compete for air. An exhaust fan may pull the combustion gases back into the living space. This can obviously create a very dangerous and unhealthy situation in the home.

In homes where a fuel is burned (i.e., natural gas, fuel oil, propane, or wood) for heating, be certain the appliance has an adequate air supply. Generally, one square inch of vent opening is required for each 1,000 Btu of appliance input heat. When in doubt, contact your local utility company, energy professional, or ventilation contractor.

I hope that this information will help you in protecting your energy dollars. Remember, I am always here to help answer your questions. You can go to my website for more in depth information. Thanks for reading my post on energy audits, and may you have many happy sales, and inspections.





Comments (2)

Not a real person
San Diego, CA

Happy New Year!

Dec 27, 2009 05:57 AM
Renée Donohue~Home Photography
Savvy Home Pix - Allegan, MI
Western Michigan Real Estate Photographer

Jan 01, 2010 09:34 AM