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Start with a Self Survey

The Home Energy Survey Checklist can help a homeowner begin the diagnostic process and prioritize repairs and upgrades. The DIY approach can uncover problems for quick fixes or that require further investigation. Inspect the items on the list and make notes about problems. The following list can serve as a guide to tackling problem areas and prioritizing repairs and upgrades

☐ Gaps and ceilings—anywhere that two different building materials meet

☐ Insulation around electrical outlets and switch plates. Turn off power to an electrical outlet or switch, use a power tester to double-check no current is flowing to the outlet, remove the cover plate, and probe around the opened outlet with a stick or screwdriver; resistance indicates the presence of insulation.

☐ Windows and doors—rattling indicates an air leak source

☐ Fireplace flue

☐Cellar door and attic hatch (hatch should have the same insulation as the attic floor).

☐ Wall- and window-mounted air conditioners

☐ Drafts through mail slots and pet doors

☐ Exhaust fans and hoods, dryer vents

☐ Foundation seals, siding, mortar between bricks (especially building corners)

☐ Worn or improperly installed caulking and weather stripping

☐ Storm windows installed

☐ Vapor barrier underneath the installation

☐ Attic vents (should not be blocked by insulation)

☐ Wrapping on water heater, hot water pipes, and furnace ducts

☐ Replacement of furnace air filters

☐ Ducts and seams (dirt streaks indicate leakage)

☐ Lighting (replace incandescent bulbs with LED bulbs)

☐ Schedule annual HVAC inspections

☐ Gaps or settling in wall insulation

☐ Blockages in rain gutters and downspouts

Assess Your Energy: Text
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The Energy Audit

The simplest and quickest diagnostic method the professionals use is a walk-through energy survey, sometimes called a clipboard audit, simple assessment, screening, or preliminary audit. It doesn’t include any diagnostic testing. They mainly look for symptoms or concentrates on a particular issue such as comfort or health.  ( Less than a hour)

Assess Your Energy: List

During the Survey Process the evaluator does a visual inspection of:

  • Building envelope—walls, windows, doors, and insulation

  • Ducts

  • HVAC system components

  • Appliance types, characteristics, and ages

  • Lighting characteristics

  • Moisture indicators

  • Comfort and health issues (drafts as well as cold and hot spots)

  • Review of monthly or annual utility bills​

The evaluation report may include items such as:

  • Recommendations for improving energy efficiency

  • Solutions to specific problems

  • Low-cost and DIY fixes and corrective measures

  • Quick cost estimates

  • Simple payback period analysis

  • Recommendations for a more detailed audit

  • Available utility programs and incentives

In order to get the most benefit, a homeowner should prepare the following information:

  • A list of existing problem areas, such as drafty rooms

  • Copies of utility bills or a summary (utility companies can usually provide a report)

  • Age of HVAC systems and appliances

  • Information about occupants’ behavior: anyone home during the day or during working hours, how many people reside in the home

  • Average thermostat settings for summer and winter, daytime, and evenings

  • Rooms and additional spaces that are used or unused, such as an attic or basement

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Performance testing

A more technical level of analysis can be accomplished with performance testing. This level of assessment is sometimes called a performance audit. The assessor conducts a range of performance tests. They will prepare a written evaluation report including energy usage, weak points to be improved and recommendations for cost saving measures. (3-4 hours long)

Assess Your Energy: List
  • Air leaks in the building envelope

  • Air-flow distribution through registers and vents

  • Pressure between rooms and between conditioned and unconditioned spaces such as attics

  • Leakages from HVAC ducts

  • Insulation effectiveness: heat-loss factor through ceiling, walls, windows, floors, and foundation

  • Moisture levels in the air and building components

  • Energy consumption and intermittent loads of appliances

  • Potential combustion safety issues such as back drafts

  • Recommendations for improvements

  • Conservation measures

  • Established ratings such as the Home Energy Rating System® (HERS®) and DOE Home Energy Score

  • Cost-benefit analysis and projected payback times for recommended improvements

  • Recommendations to contractors who can perform the work to specification

Expect an assessor to come in and perform a blower-door test and/or a Duct-blaster. The first gauges how much air leaves the home to detect how airtight the building is. The latter uses the registers and vents which are temporarily sealed in order to pressurize the system. They will usually add a thermographic Scanning which detects temperature differences as the other tests are performed.

Can typically expect two scores administered after.

One through The residential energy services Network (RESNET) which provides a Home energy rating system to show the overall energy performance of a home and is most often required for any Energy efficient mortgages or qualifying for an energy star Certification. The other is the Home Energy Score program that the DOE administers through a network of partners. Utilities, state agencies, local governments. It is most useful for energy related home improvements. Providing before and after documentation to show how the energy efficiency improved. 

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