Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Energy Surveys and Assessments

Everyone would like to decrease the energy costs of their homes, but it can be difficult to know where to start. Beyond trading your old incandescents for CFLs or LEDs, you may be wondering how to really improve your home's systems and family's usage. Energy surveys and assessments are a great tool to conduct your evaluation.

* "Other" includes small electronic devices, heating elements,
motors, swimming pool and hot tub heaters, outdoor grills,
and natural gas outdoor lighting.
Source: HomeEnergySaver

Let's first take a look at how residential energy costs typically break down. This pie chart represents a typical home in a northern climate, where heating is the largest need. For homes in warmer climates, you'll probably see the heating and cooling numbers reversed. Most energy evaluations will focus on the heating and cooling, the building envelope, and water heating systems.

An energy survey is a visual inspection without any diagnostic testing and can take about an hour. Your local utility company can usually provide you with a list of registered contractors in your area who are qualified to conduct the survey. During the survey, the contractor will inspect the walls, windows, doors, insulation, ductwork, heating and cooling systems, appliances, lighting, and comfort and health issues, as well as reviewing utility bills. The report will provide the homeowner with suggestions for improving energy efficiency, including low-cost or DIY items, any applicable rebates or incentives, cost estimates, and any recommendations for more detailed evaluation.

Thermographic scanning uses infrared technology to identify
building envelope defects.
Source: National Renewable Energy Lab

An energy assessment is a more thorough process that uses performance tests to identify issues within a building. Sometimes the term audit is used for an assessment but sometimes it describes a higher or lower level or evaluation; be sure you ask your professional specifically what his process includes. To make the best use of your time with the assessor, prepare a list of existing problems ahead of time and gather copies of utility bills for review. The assessor will ask you about the residents of the home and their habits. He will utilize tests such as the Blower Door Test to measure air infiltration through the building envelope. He may use infrared scanners to identify insulation gaps or other areas where there are significant temperature differences. He will measure appliance efficiency, humidity levels, appliance power loads and computer analysis to provide you with detailed information and suggestions to make your home and systems more energy efficient. He may even supply cost analysis, priority investments and information on energy efficient mortgages (EEMs).

Here are a few other sources to find professionals in your area:

More and more homebuyers are citing energy efficiency as an important factor when buying a home. If you are thinking about selling, you may be able to add value and thousands onto your listing price by being energy conscious. Let me know if I can help!

I would love to help you with your real estate journey. 
Please contact me at 303-917-7143 or