The Value of a Home Energy Audit

Home Inspector with HouseProbe Inspections LLC

 The Value of a Home Energy Audit  

With energy prices rising and are poised to go higher, having a home energy audit performed on your house is a good way to lower your bills.

    There have been many articles written about how to save money on your energy bills with simple things like adding insulation, weatherstripping or air sealing, but how do you know exactly how, where and how much to insulate, weatherstrip or air seal unless you have a professional energy auditor examine your home. I recommend having an energy auditor who uses the guidelines and standards of BPI-Building Performance Institute. These professionals take the whole house approach and use the latest technology and equipment to find issues with your home that are wasting energy.

    Air sealing and insulating can many times offer you the biggest bang for your buck if you have an older home. Even newer homes can benefit from air sealing, however there should be at least 0.35 air exchanges per hour to maintain good air quality. The only way to measure this is to have a blower door test performed on your house.

    The blower door test is the primary tool of energy auditing. Its purpose is to create a slightly lower air pressure on the interior of the home as opposed to the exterior. In this controlled environment, the energy auditor will use other instruments and tools to measure and find air leakage and insulation deficiencies. They can also find leaky HVAC ducts using a blower door or a duct blaster.

    Locating and properly air sealing is critical to saving money on your energy bills and will also make your home more comfortable.

    Older homes, especially, were not built tight enough to keep your conditioned air from leaking out. Hot air will always rise and cold air will always fall and will seek the path of least resistance to exit your home. When this conditioned air leaves your home there will be a slight vacuum and will pull unconditioned air in to replace the air you have paid to condition either by heating or cooling. Leaking air duct work will also have a major effect on your heating and cooling bills and on the overall comfort of your home. Air ducts are under pressure, so the effects of air leakage will be magnified.

    During the blower door test, the inspector will identify the volume and location of the air leakage and will recommend steps to take to improve the energy efficiency of your home. Many of these recommendations are an easy fix for the handy homeowner. Often, simple air sealing of the ductwork and ceiling penetrations will make a huge difference. Other recommendations may require a professional contractor.

    Blower door testing will also detect windows and doors that will not seal properly by using a thermal imaging camera or a smoke pen to locate the air that is moving around those areas. The thermal imaging camera sees temperature instead of light and can measure very small temperature differences and will detect the defects that allow summer heat or winter cold that enters your home. A smoke pen will also find drafts from other penetrations around your home.

    The defects found during the energy audit will result in areas of your home that are difficult to heat or cool and will cost you extra money on your energy bills. In Richmond, Virginia this is especially true because of the hot humid summers and the cold winters. During the summer, temperatures in our attics will far exceed the outside temperature. This heat will radiate through your ceiling 24 hours a day if the attic does not have proper insulation, ventilation or a radiant barrier. In the winter the warm air will escape through your ceiling due to the stack effect (warm air rises) and will cost you additional money on utility bills.


David DiRienzo

HouseProbe Inspections LLC

Comments (1)

David Popoff
DMK Real Estate - Darien, CT
Realtor®,SRS, Green ~ Fairfield County, Ct

Dave, every home owner should do a blower door test and correct these easy to do fixes.

Jan 11, 2012 10:34 PM