Home energy efficiency is a topic that’s more and more on America’s mind, but it isn’t just about buying the newest, most efficient HVAC system on the market. In order to keep your home efficient and comfortable, a number of systems have to work together. Your home’s HVAC system, insulation, ductwork, and even the landscaping can have large effects on how your energy dollars are spent. Professional home energy audits can help you understand how energy works in your home and where to focus your efforts to make your home work better.
What Is an Energy Audit?
Home energy audits are careful examinations of how a home uses and loses energy. The HVAC professional conducting the audit may examine some or all of the following:
- Past energy bills – Patterns of energy use can be enlightening, especially if your energy use is trending upward. This might indicate a failing HVAC system, deteriorating home seals or some other issue that can be addressed in order to save you money.
- Your household’s concerns and habits – If your family is out of the house for most of the day and you’re not setting the thermostat back either manually or with a programmable thermostat, that could be a quick win in for you in energy savings. If you have any health issues in your household that might require a warmer or cooler temperature or more balanced humidity controls, your HVAC professional can help with that as well.
- Your home’s structure – Is air escaping through the walls or around windows or door frames? Is heat leaking through areas of insufficient insulation or gathering in attic spaces and preventing your home from cooling down?
- The home environment – Is your home shaded or does it get natural sunlight? Do certain areas of your home have heating or cooling needs different from other areas? For example, do you have high ceilings in one room that make it more difficult to heat?
- The age and efficiency of your HVAC system – If you’ve kept up with annual maintenance, you may want to have your auditor look over any records and give you a second opinion on how well your system is doing.
What to Expect From a Home Energy Audit
Some common practices in home energy audits include:
- A blower door test – This test uses blower door fans to detect air leaks into and out of your home. In WestPoint’s climate, air passing through the walls can carry humidity with it, which can lead to damp spots, mold, mildew and fungus growth within your walls. Air leaks also bleed away your energy dollars by preventing your home from holding onto heat or cool air.
- Thermographic scans – Using an infrared camera, your local HVAC expert can discover hot and cool patches within your home. This is often an indication that you have insufficient insulation in a particular area.
- Humidity detection – Humid homes are more difficult to cool, though they are more able to be heated. That’s why having a balanced humidity all year long is a good thing.
- Examination of ducts and vents – Almost a third of your energy use can vanish through faulty ductwork. Making sure that your home’s ducts are sealed can help you avoid that energy loss, and if you insulate your ducts, you’ll save even more.
- A time to answer any of your questions – If you’ve noticed a draft, you want to know if it’s possible to keep your bedroom cooler than your living room, or you’ve never understood what something does, ask your auditor!
- A clear explanation of the audit process and what the HVAC specialist has found – This is your home, and you should leave the energy audit with a clear understanding of how to maintain and improve it.
For more information on energy audits and how they help Georgia homeowners take control of their home energy efficiency, check out Indoor Solutions, Inc.’s building performance evaluations. You can also call us at 706-225-8241 to schedule an appointment!
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