What Should You Expect and What Will You Gain From A Whole Home Energy Audit
The very point of the Magic Touch Mechanical blog is to help homeowners and building managers discover ways to reduce energy usage. That said, the best way to start is to test and measure all of the energy loss of the building or home, pinpoint the deficiencies, and create an action plan to correct them. We call this; Inspect, Detect, Correct.
Most of this post is a reprint of an earlier “note” from our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/MagicTouchMechanical so you will see most of the language refers to “our” companies energy audit procedures, however you should expect the same from any competent Energy Auditor or Energy Efficiency Contractor.
One word of caution prior to hiring an energy auditor…do your homework! In recent years many so called, “Energy Audit Companies” are popping up out of the woodwork after receiving very minimal training. Five days of cramming can easily earn some of the needed certifications to perform this type of work, however like anything else, it takes many years to perfect your craft to really be competent at it, which will get you the consumer the most benefit from an audit.
Magic Touch Mechanical’s most comprehensive energy audit consists of a multitude of different testing procedures utilizing some of the most advanced diagnostic equipment available today. Testing is performed by technicians who have completed rigorous training and testing and earned the appropriate certifications including B.P.I. (Building Performance Institute) Building Analyst Certification and Building Envelope Specialist Certification, N.A.T.E. (North American Technician Excellence) Certifications, Thermography Certifications, Heat Gain Analyst Certification, HERS (Home Energy Rater) Certification, and many others.
The testing included in our Premium Energy Audit includes; a Blower Door Test, Pressure Pan Testing, Duct Blaster Test, Air-Flow Test, Standard Digital and Infrared Camera Testing including pictures of deficiencies, Moisture Content Testing, Comprehensive A/C and Heating System Analysis, Comprehensive Duct Design and Condition Analysis, and a Manual J load calculation.
Individually, each of these analysis and tests can benefit a homeowner by isolating a specific area of concern. But combined the Whole house energy assessment gives the homeowner or building owner “the big picture” on where energy dollars are being spent, and where money can be saved.
Beyond the opportunity to save money by reducing energy consumption, our clients are always pleasantly surprised by the immediate difference they notice in increased comfort by eliminating “hot spots”, areas in their homes or offices that were noticeably less comfortable than the rest of the home or building, drafty areas, uneven temperatures, humidity problems, and more.
Through the use of our infrared cameras, we often locate areas with high moisture content and are able to uncover slow leaks in homes and buildings that the occupants were unaware of. These moist areas can not only do major damage before they are detected, they can also promote the growth of mold and mildew that not only damages the property, but also is a major health risk to the occupants. Have you ever heard of someone who is constantly ill, having unexplained headaches, allergies, etc. only to discover it’s there own home making them sick? It happens more often than you might think. The fortunate people are the one’s who discover the problem and have the problem remediated.
Other I.A.Q. (Indoor Air Quality) problems can be corrected via a whole home energy audit as well. The entry point of dust and other allergens can be eliminated and seriously reduced as a result of these testing and repair procedures. Have you ever asked yourself,; “Where is all this dust coming from, I just cleaned the house yesterday”? You don’t have to settle for the typical response of “Well, this is Arizona it’s just dusty here” You can do something about it!
A little bit more about “Building & Home Performance Testing”
A blower door consists of a variable speed fan and controller mounted in a special frame, which is mounted in an entry door of your home or building. the fan is used to pressurize and depressurize a house to measure air infiltration or leakage by measuring the pressure differences from the inside to the outside. The blower door has several pressure sensors and a sophisticated digital gauge that measures the amount of air pulled out of or into the house by the fan. This data allows the auditor to quantify the amount of air leakage prior to repairs and the effectiveness of any air-sealing job after repairs have been made. This determines the overall “tightness” of a building.
A “Blower Door (Infiltrometer)” test being performed.
A pressure pan is used in conjunction with the blower door in order to determine or “pinpoint” specific areas of leakage around the home. For example, a common area for air infiltration (air leakage) into a home is someplace many people might never suspect; around light switches and receptacles (outlets). Another area is the cooler conditioned air inside your home being pulled into the attic around recessed lights (can lights) in the ceiling. By placing the pressure pan over these areas, we are able to use another sophisticated digital gauge to determine exactly how much leakage there is through one of these areas.
A duct blaster is a also a variable speed fan and controller that is attached to a duct system to measure duct air leakage. Duct tightness measurements are used to diagnose and demonstrate leakage problems, estimate efficiency losses from duct leakage, and certify the quality of the entire duct system installation by isolating the duct system from the rest of the home. A duct blaster is the most accurate way to determine duct leakage of the entire duct system. When used in conjunction with a “fogger”, a machine that puts non-toxic smoke through the duct system, we are able to detect leaks that would normally not be detected by a simple visual inspection. A leaky duct system can decrease your air conditioning and heating systems efficiency by 20-50% and in extreme cases even more. If you consider that air conditioning and heating typically makes up 50% of your utility bill, you start to see the importance of making sure that your “system” is as tight as it can possibly be.
A “Duct Blaster” (Duct Leakage Test) being performed.
An instrument that measures the pressure differential between two locations, in this case between the return side and the supply side of the furnace or air handler. We compare this static pressure reading to manufacturer specifications to assure optimally air flow and efficiency. We refer to this pressure as “static pressure”. If this static pressure isn’t correct, not only will it cost you via high utility bills, it can and most likely will cause premature failures and shortened life on your air conditioning and heating equipment.
A Flow Hood is a device used to measure the amount of air flowing through a register (vent). While the flow hood is a very useful tool, it is important to point out that this is not a very accurate method to determine duct leakage when used by itself. Many HVAC companies or Energy Auditors may try to tell you that they can perform a “faster” and therefore “cheaper” duct leakage test with a flow hood. The $50-$75 dollars you can save with the “cheaper, faster” flow hood test will be lost within a month or two by undetected leaks they miss.
An Infrared Camera also known as a Thermal Image Camera shows heat variations that can be used to help detect heat losses, moisture, and air leakage in buildings. Think of it as doing an X-ray of a building as it’s almost as if we can see through the walls of a home or building. The infrared camera is one of the best and most versatile ?tools? that the auditor can use. Magic Touch places high value on it?s capabilities and we believe any energy auditor that is not using one to its fullest potential is falling far short in their job performance. What we are talking about? An infrared camera can simultaneously:
- Locate and document air leaks without the need to make any holes in walls and ceilings.
- Locate defects in the thermal boundary, insulation voids, insulation settling, thermal bypasses, etc.
- Indentify and document phantom electrical loads.
- Obtain the framing factor and other framing details.
- Immediately document each energy wasting deficiency found both with an IR and visual light image.
[Missing insulation in a knee-wall as seen by an infrared camera.]
A/C and Heating analysis
(Magic Touch Mechanical completes a 66 point check to make sure you central A/C and Heating system is working at its optimal efficiency) Be sure to find out if your Energy Auditor is licensed to do HVAC work first, if not hire an independent HVAC Contractor for this portion of the audit.
Manual J Load Calculation
This report is designed to show the heating and cooling demand of the whole house or if there is a problem area, a properly executed manual J can determine the load for each room.
Magic Touch utilizes a wide variety of additional testing equipment and procedures which can help you make your home or building more efficient, comfortable, safe and healthy. Our Certified technicians have received advanced training in equipment such as borescope cameras, combustion analyzers, data loggers, and many more.
Upon completion of our Whole Home Energy Audit, we will send you a custom tailored report that breaks down your home’s energy consumption including how and where it is used, and it identifies for you the areas where you can perform improvements as well as the type of improvements best performed in order to decrease energy bills and live more comfortably in your home.
Remember, a Whole Home Energy Audit qualifies for the APS and SRP rebates for both the testing and for repairs, and may qualify for a Federal Tax Credit.
For more information about a Magic Touch Mechanical, Premium Whole Home Energy Audit or any of our individual building and home performance test and repair services, or to schedule an appointment: Call us at (480) 855-8789 or E-mail us at email@example.com
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