A home energy audit is a comprehensive evaluation of your household’s energy usage, comfort, and safety. Also known as a home energy assessment, this appraisal can help pinpoint how much energy or power your home uses and the areas in which your home is inefficient. A home energy audit can also help you identify fixes you should prioritize to save money and improve your quality of life at home. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a home energy audit is the first step you should take before proceeding with energy-saving upgrades or adding major new HVAC units. But what are the exact components of an energy assessment? A deep dive into the main features of a professional energy audit can help you better understand this essential service for the home.

What Are the Components of a Home Energy Audit?

The home energy audit is a thorough analysis of your home. It usually involves a room-by-room examination to accurately profile the household’s energy usage. Before the audit, the home energy expert might first ask the homeowner to complete an interview, survey, checklist, or questionnaire. This can create a preliminary checklist or discussion that helps the home energy expert identify specific areas of concern for your home. It can also help the energy expert understand the typical daily living patterns within your house. Additionally, some companies also offer an energy bill review service. This review of historical energy usage on your utility bills can help the expert identify potential problems or signs of waste. Past energy usage can also serve as a benchmark for projected savings in the future.

A typical energy audit includes three main steps or components, including evaluation, testing, and recommendations. A home energy audit service may also customize any one of the three general steps to find the best way to suit the needs of your home. Talk with your HVAC company, home energy expert, or professional energy assessor if you have concerns about the three main steps for energy audits.

Step One: Evaluation

The evaluation portion consists of a walk-through of the interior and exterior of your home. For the exterior of your home, the auditor may evaluate the perimeter to check walls, windows, and roofing areas for cracks or leaks. Inside the home, the auditor may evaluate elements like the HVAC system and water heater. In addition, the expert may notate the number of windows and doors while taking helpful measurements. Some auditors also check insulation or the home envelope for possible leaks. Problem areas for leaks often include basements, attics, chimney bypasses, or crawl spaces.

Step Two: Testing

Diagnostic testing is often a major component of the energy auditing process. The auditor may conduct several tests before compiling them in a report for your review. One of the most popular diagnostic tests is the blower door test. Also known as an airtightness test, the blower door test uses a special fan to depressurize the home and then a pressure gauge or infrared camera to check for cracks or leaks. Depressurizing your home does not harm it, and the blower door or airtightness test is one of the most efficient ways to accurately determine the exact location of small leaks.

Another popular diagnostic test is the thermographic scan. This test uses tools like infrared cameras, surface thermometers, or efficiency meters to detect possible energy loss based on temperature. Thermal imaging may also locate spots within insulation where air is leaking through. Some home energy experts also offer duct testing. This involves an examination of the ductwork for any tears, punctures, or duct leaks. The process may also include high-tech HVAC cameras or air pressure tools to identify the smallest leaks. The expert can also check the corresponding air register vents.

Safety checks can also fall under the category of testing. The home energy expert may conduct combustion appliance zone testing. This is an assessment of all fuel-burning combustible appliances like furnaces, water heaters, boilers, or stoves. The combustion test checks items like heat exchangers for cracks and various components for corrosion and other hazards. It may also include a carbon monoxide check to confirm that the flue for exhaust-producing units works correctly and has not begun to leak natural gas or harmful fumes. Finally, a technician can also check connections and wiring to reduce the risk of system shutdowns or dangers like house fires.

Specific appliances may receive extra attention or tests as well. For example, a technician may test the furnace for fuel leaks or problems with the filter or blower. The water heater may receive thermostat testing, insulation measurements, or a draft hood checkup. Malfunctioning appliances are not only household hazards, but they can also use excess energy as the units draw more energy from the grid to complete heating or cooling cycles. Testing can help pinpoint these shortcomings to help protect homeowners from unit short cycling or wasted power.

Step Three: Efficiency Recommendations

After the home energy expert has completed an evaluation and testing, this professional usually provides a list of recommendations for energy improvements. This list provides guidance on which issues to prioritize for efficiency, safety, and savings. For example, the energy expert may advise that you replace worn insulation or upgrade to an HVAC unit certified under the ENERGY STAR program. Or after reviewing your utility bill, the professional may suggest that you switch from traditional lighting to LEDs or incandescent light bulbs instead. Implementation can often result in energy savings and increased comfort levels throughout the home.

What Are the Benefits of a Home Energy Audit?

There are numerous benefits to conducting a home energy audit. The process can help you save money by identifying issues that might otherwise cause higher utility bills. Lowering excessive energy usage may also reduce your household’s carbon footprint and help conserve your locality’s natural resources. This process can help you do your part in lowering environmental pollution by minimizing your energy consumption.

By pinpointing sources of waste and possible mechanical defects, an audit can also increase the lifespan of your HVAC system and reduce the need for constant repairs. The energy audit may also help improve your comfort level at home. For example, thermostat testing during audits can help ensure more comfortable home temperatures, and duct inspections may also improve the quality of air distributed throughout rooms. Safety testing during an energy audit is a great precautionary measure against dangers like natural gas leaks that can lead to health complications like carbon monoxide poisoning.

Finally, an energy audit may also help your home obtain a home energy score (HES). According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the HES is a rating system that classifies a home’s energy efficiency. The rating system is a scale from 1-10, and 10 is the most efficient rating that indicates the house uses less energy than 90% of U.S. homes. If you plan to sell your home, the HES may increase resale value by providing credible information regarding the property’s energy usage across the housing market.

When Is the Best Time To Schedule a Home Energy Audit?

You can schedule a home energy audit at any time during the year. It is often helpful to schedule the audit during periods with significant temperature differences. This allows a professional energy assessor to accurately measure factors affecting heat loss and heat gain throughout the home. Winter and summer are great times to check insulation, but spring and fall are also advisable for testing HVAC equipment before the weather becomes more extreme for the year.

Contact Us Today

Scheduling a home energy audit can provide your family with a snapshot of energy usage and offers valuable insight into how you can improve efficiency. A home energy expert has the training and experience necessary for the job. Southland Heating & Air Conditioning provides home energy audits for properties in Newbury Park, CA and surrounding areas. We can examine and test all heating and cooling equipment and offer suggestions to improve your home’s overall efficiency. In addition, our technicians specialize in the installation or repair of air conditioners, heat pumps, and furnaces. We can inspect ductwork or help you switch to a ductless system. Reach out if you would like to improve indoor air quality, install air purifiers, or upgrade to whole-house fans. Regardless of the HVAC question, we can help. Contact Southland Heating & Air Conditioning today for all home energy needs.

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