If a homeowner is feeling big temperature differences from room to room, or suspects that the home is not as efficient as it should be, but doesn’t know where to start, it may be time to consult a professional. A professional home auditor can show a homeowner exactly where a home is losing energy with specialized equipment and tests, such as a blower door and infrared scan.
With a blower door, air is pulled out of the home to show exactly where the air leaks are located. The infrared scan is a thermal camera that is used for testing the hot spots in walls and ceilings where insulation is needed. Professional auditors will take the results from these tests and use their experience to determine action the homeowner should take to stop the energy loss. Correcting the energy losses will mean huge savings for the consumer, especially in summer months when electric bills can skyrocket.
“One client was always hot in the summer and cold in the winter,” said Kirk Van Roekel, owner of Proenergy Consultants. The energy audit showed that, among other things, she had insulation issues in the ceiling of her bedroom. There was no access to the attic over the bedroom but, because of the energy audit, she hired a contractor to cut a hole in a second story bedroom wall to access the attic. They discovered that when the home was built, a contractor had moved the insulation to run wiring and never put the insulation back, so she basically had no insulation in the ceiling of her bedroom. “This would never have been discovered if she had not had an energy audit,” said Van Roekel. “The two most common areas where energy is lost in a home are insulation that is missing/damaged/insufficient and leaks in air conditioning duct work,” he continued.
Along with making common changes, like replacing incandescent light bulbs and installing programmable thermostats, Van Roekel’s advises homeowners looking to save on energy to make sure they have good weather stripping around doors, and especially their attic access. One of the least expensive changes homeowners can do to their home to save on energy is sealing air leaks found in an audit with weather stripping, caulk, spray foam, or mastic. “These products are available at any home improvement store for less than $50,” said Van Roekel.
When choosing an energy auditor, it is a good idea to use a professional that does not do any of the energy improvements themselves. Homeowners are more likely to get an objective audit and have less doubt of the recommendations if the auditor does not gain commissions from additional work requested.By Monica Pena,