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Save Money, Pinpoint Heat Loss with an Energy Audit

This week we are tagging along with Tim Courtier of ProEnergy Consultants to go on a professional home energy efficiency audit.  We’ve had a lot of customers call us in the past few weeks complaining of drafty homes, high energy bills and an inability to keep their home in optimum living conditions.  We thought it would be helpful to show how a home energy audit can address these problems.

A lot of homeowners wonder if they should get new windows or add insulation. While that sometimes is the best remedy for the situation, there are also many things you can easily do on your own that will improve the efficiency of your home to lower your energy bills and make your home more comfortable.

A home energy efficiency audit is a great way to learn where your home is losing energy and what you can do about it. Before you call an energy consultant, like Tim, let me tell you about the equipment he uses, the process of the audit and what you’ll get from it.

Why You Need a Home Energy Audit

At the home we are visiting, the homeowner is concerned about high energy bills, drafty rooms and freezing closets. In addition, she is planning a major renovation and wanted advice on how to remodel her old, drafty home in order to make it as energy efficient as possible. Tim will use a plethora of high-tech equipment to help you pinpoint where your home is losing energy and what you can do to fix it.

The Home Energy Auditor’s Tool Bag

The first piece of equipment Tim is setting up is a large blower fan in the front door that creates a negative pressure in the house and simulates a 10 mph wind blowing on all four walls of the home. This will allow him to see where air is leaking into the home.

Infrared Camera Shows Heat Loss

Infrared Camera Shows Heat Loss

After he gets the blower set up, he will go through the house room by room with an infrared camera and a smoke stick. The smoke stick enables him to see the severity of drafts coming in through cracks while his infrared camera records temperatures and stores information that will allow him to later calculate how big of a “hole” is in your house.

What a Home Energy Audit Will Reveal

We are starting the audit on first floor, where the family said they spend the majority of the time cooking and hanging out. Despite replacing nearly all their windows about a year ago, the house is still drafty and cold in places.

New windows can go a long way in making your home more efficient, but the problem here isn’t the window itself, it was the seal around it. You can easily spot this problem with your eyes and feel with the back of your hand the draft that comes into your home. If this is an issue for you, a simple caulk job will seal up those leaks and stop the drafts from coming in.

Window installers rarely take the time to properly seal windows upon installation because of the significant time required to the job properly.  Given that homeowners often shop for windows based on price, much of the cost of window replacement can be reduced by cutting corners on installation.

Uninsulated rim joist will let cold air in

Uninsulated rim joist will let cold air in

Next, are moving into the basement where we find that air is leaking in through the rim joist, even though it was insulated. Tim recommended that instead of using a fiberglass insulation, which was acting as a filter and getting clogged with dirt, to instead use a foam insulation which will act as an air barrier, as well as a thermal barrier.

In the attic, Tim discovered much of the same problems as he did in the basement. There was a lack of insulation and the wrong type of insulation as well. These issues are making the walls and ceiling on the second floor, where the bedrooms are located, much colder than they should be.  Not to mention, turning their closets into ice boxes. Tim suggested reinsulating the attic as well as repairing the drywall cracks in the closets, where cold can leak into the living space.

The Efficiency Solution

After going through the home, Tim will build an action plan for his customers within 48 hours to tell them where the problems are, the severity of the issues and how to fix the problems. This can help tremendously when planning to remodel your home so you don’t throw thousands of dollars at the wrong expense in an attempt to make your home more efficient (i.e. new windows/ bad seal).

Seal around windows to prevent cold drafts

Seal around windows to prevent cold drafts

While Tim has found some issues that would need the assistance of a professional home repair and remodeling company, the homeowner could take many steps on their own to effectively reduce their energy bills at home for little cost.

Additional Benefit of a Professional Home Energy Audit

While in the basement, Tim noticed that the exhaust chimney was disconnected from the water heater, allowing deadly carbon monoxide gases to leak into the home. This family didn’t have any carbon monoxide detectors, and luckily we were there to spot this problem. However, if we didn’t notice the issue, disaster could have struck. So I beg all of you reading this, please install CO detectors on all floors of your home. It is cheap and can save As always, thank you for reading our article and if you would like work done on your home to reduce energy bills call ProMaster at (513) 322-2914 find us on the web at www.www.mastermylist.com .  We would also love to be your friend on Facebook, keyword “ProMaster Craftsmen.”

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