Home energy audits are valuable to determine how your home is performing and where it needs attention. A good audit includes a blower door test and other diagnotics.
With a lot of interest in the ice forming on people’s roofs in recent weeks, we’ve gotten a few comments, here and offline, encouraging people to look beyond the attics. And that’s absolutely right! While an ice damming problem may be like a gaping wound that needs immediate attention, it’s important to remember that just because you got stitches last year does mean you shouldn’t get a full physical, too.
And for your home, the equivalent to a physical is a home energy audit. And in the interest of recycling, I’m going to recycle much of a previous post on the subject. Full a fuller description and details to watch for, I encourage you to visit the overview on our website, or check out this energy audit video.
You’ll see a lot of people hawking audits. And rightly so. A home energy audit, done right, help you focus on the real things likely to save you energy. (Hint: most of the time it is NOT new windows!)
Regarding the audit it’s important to get the right audit–accurate and actionable.
To be accurate, the audit needs to include a good inspection and a range of diagnostics including combustion safety, infiltration (using a blower door), duct leakage testing, and an infrared scan. If the person conducting the audit is making cost-effectiveness recommendations, then they need to have a firm understanding of local installation costs by a quality contractor—if they don’t know these exact prices they can’t talk about cost effectiveness!
To be actionable, any recommendations for improvement need to be easily understood by you and easily communicated to an installation contractor who can fully execute the recommendations. For example, if the recommendations are for attic air-sealing and insulation (you shouldn’t do the insulation without the air-sealing), the person doing the work needs to understand exactly what needs to be done and be able to deliver (assuming the recommendations are accurate—see above!).
A simple “clipboard audit” or home energy rating won’t cover both of these for you, so make sure you get what you need! And don’t waste your money on what you don’t!
Do the audit first. Then you'll have a plan and can address the most energy consuming defects first.