This home energy audit infographic is courtesy of the United States Department of Energy.
Energy Saver 101
What is a home energy audit?
A home energy audit is the first step to improving your home’s energy efficiency. A home energy audit helps you pinpoint where your house is losing energy and what you can do to save money. Home energy auditors will also assess health and safety issues that might exist in your home. The audit involves two parts: The home assessment and analysis using computer software.
Did you know? You could save 5 to 30 percent on your energy bill by making an efficiency upgrades identified in your home energy audit.
The Auditor’s Toolbox
Below are some of the tools energy auditors used to inspect homes energy use.
Telescoping ladder: To reach into an attic or up high.
Screwdrivers, pliers and adjustable wrench: To remove outlet plate and inspect appliances.
25 foot tape measure: For making a footprint sketch of the house.
Flashlight and batteries: To help see behind appliances.
Digital cameras: To help seeing to hard to reach places and document elements of the house.
Pen and paper: For taking notes.
Infrared camera: To help determine the air leakage and insulation.
Combustion analyzer: Tool designed to sample flue gases in vented combustion appliances and measure flue gas temperature, leaks and carbon monoxide.
Blower door: A large fan that depressurizes the home by sucking air out. This test simulates the effect of a 20 mph wind to allow the auditor to find air leaks.
Manometer: A gauge that measures the difference in pressure in a home in point air leakage and test exhaust devices for proper operation.
Smoke generating device: Produces a thin stream of smoke or non-toxic fog to help find air leakage and duct leakage.
Watt meter: Measures the electrical energy use by various devices throughout the home.
Soap bubbles: Used to confirm fuel leaks in combustion appliances.
Digital probe thermometer: For testing temperature rise and heating equipment and operating temperatures.
Inspection mirror: To see into constricted spaces.
Draft gauge: To test for chimney drafts.
Moisture meter: Measures moisture level and wood in other materials.
The Home Energy Audit Checklist:
Certified Home energy auditors should go through the following steps in a home energy audit.
- Analyze past years fuel bills to determine base energy consumption.
- Interviewed the homeowner to learn about problems and how the home operates.
- Explain the audit process.
- Conduct exterior inspection.
- Health and safety inspection.
- Interior visual inspection.
- Assess electrical system for safety concerns.
- Combustion appliance inspection.
- Blower door test.
- Analyzing findings and create a comprehensive home energy report.
Home Energy Audit: What to Look For
- Note the number and location of air registers.
- Inspect windows and doors and check for access window condensation.
- Note and test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
- Inspect lighting fixtures and recessed lights.
- Check for air leaks around the outlets, fixtures, doors and windows.
- Inspect the fireplace.
- Note thermostat type and setting.
- Check for wall insulation and framing type.
- Look for indoor air quality problems and lead-based paint.
In the Attic
- Inspect insulation.
- Check for major air leakage issues in places like chimney bypasses, recessed lighting and HVAC ducks.
- Note to any signs of water leakage.
- Inspect wiring for safety issues.
In the Basement and Utility Room
- Furnace: test for fuel leaks, change the furnace filter, clean furnace blower.
- Water heater: Note thermostat setting and installation on tank and piping; test draft hood.
- Perform combustion appliances owned testing on all combustible fuel fired appliances.
- Inspect duct system and dryer venting.
In the Kitchen/Bathroom
- Look for electrical or other hazards.
- Assess electrical appliance energy use with a watt meter or manufacturer nameplate.
- Check for moisture and excess water vapor.
- Assess vent fans for flow rate.
What is the blower door test?
A blower door test locates air leaks by using a special fan to depressurize a house. Blower tests are conducted before and after air sealing to measure the effectiveness of the work.
Did you know? The average home has enough air leakage to add up to a two-foot-square hole. That’s like leaving a medium-sized window open 24 hours a day!
Mythbusting Infrared Imaging
Infrared cannot see through objects or air. It can only see temperatures with cold objects appearing darker in warm objects appearing lighter.
Infrared doesn’t see color. The color is computer-generated to make a difference in temperature easier to see to the untrained eye.
Infrared imaging should not mean the only tool an energy auditor uses. When used during the blower door test infrared imaging is a powerful tool for determining air leaks.