by Tim Biebel, Vice President, Prudent Living Inc.
Not so long ago, when fuel oil and gasoline prices were hitting an all-time high, people struggled to pay for their heating bill and gas for their vehicles. Not everyone can install a high-efficiency furnace or buy a new car that gets 40 miles per gallon, but the latest crisis has caused individuals to take a closer look at how they spend their energy dollars, now, and how to control such spending in the future.
Making small inexpensive improvements to your home could have a substantially positive impact on your energy costs and health. Conducting an energy audit on your house is a fantastic way to learn how natural air movement works through your house and where the most cost-effective repairs or improvements can be made to save the most money. Not only could an energy audit reveal areas where you can save your hard-earned money, the improvements made could lead to a healthier living environment as well.
A typical energy audit consists of the following procedures:
Monitoring carbon monoxide levels: The first major procedure in an energy audit is to test all the combustion appliances (i.e. furnace or boiler) that heat your home or building. These are tested for efficiency and safe operation under different air pressures as well. By turning on various exhaust systems (for example, bathroom fans) throughout a house we can “pull” air away from combustion appliances. The tighter the house, the more the air “pulls” away. This can result in an unhealthy, even lethal, dispersion of carbon monoxide throughout the house if the appliances are not operating safely.
The second major test is the blower door test. This test reveals how “leaky” a building is. Using an infrared camera, we are able to see the full effects of air entering and exiting the building envelope. While it is a somewhat complicated test to perform, we encourage homeowners to be present because results are easy to understand and are the most revealing of any of the tests we perform.
Other tests: Besides testing combustion appliances and the blower door test, there are many other tests we perform, depending on the homeowner’s interests and needs.
A home energy audit can help to improve your home’s performance, showing you how you can save money and maybe even protect your health.
Tim Biebel resides in Vermont. He has grown up in the construction industry and holds multiple certifications in the field of energy efficiency and green technology. He loves to share what he has learned with others.