Everything You Need to Know About a BGE Energy Audit
Often times homeowners don't know what a BGE energy audit is or how it can actually help you understand energy waste in "three dimensional" ways.
For example, it is certain that an incorrectly installed bathroom exhaust fan will cost you far more in annual energy waste than perhaps all of the windows in your house.
Here are three benefits of a comprehensive home energy audit through the BGE Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® program:
1. It can help you avoid choosing the wrong solution to a problem you are having
2. A BGE energy audit is a great way to organize your home improvement priority list
3. It will undoubtedly guide you, or someone you know, to a more comfortable home
This article breaks it all down for you and shows you how getting the audit done can really open your eyes to a few unexpected things!
Why Do You Need a BGE Energy Audit?
A great way to significantly reduce energy waste is to tighten up the envelope of your home. When sealing is done properly your HVAC runs less, pests have a harder time getting in and you feel more comfortable. Knowing where to look and how to accomplish improving your "building's shell" is the central focus of a BGE energy audit.
A certified energy auditor will investigate areas of your home that typically do not see much "daylight". It is the dark corners and small spaces that sometimes yield the most information.
Getting the service done just to have a trained pro to check out the attic or crawl space is well worth the small investment of $100!
What Kind of Service is a BGE Energy Audit?
Not every contractor in Maryland qualifies to perform a BGE energy audit. Improving your home's building shell tightness is not as simple as adding more insulation.
Energy auditors have to be certified as Building Analysts to identify what a house needs. Calculating the number of air changes per hour your house loses uncontrolled to the outside is part of the assessment. You can see examples of interesting things we find tied to air leakage here.
A BGE energy auditor evaluates your house as it stands now. The auditor accurately takes a "snapshot" of your home's energy performance.
Health and safety testing, pressure readings and an air leakage test are all data points needed to complete the energy audit. Other evaluations depend on age, symptoms and preexisting conditions.
What does a BGE Energy Audit Test Around Your House?
Health & Safety Testing
There are several health and safety tests that are performed during a BGE energy audit. You can expect the following:
Combustion testing of any gas appliances
Carbon monoxide testing
Gas line leakage testing
Air Flow Testing
Ventilation is an important part of healthy living and must be part of the overall plan to improve efficiency.
How Can a BGE Energy Audit Give You a Check-In on Your Home's Indoor Air Quality?
Indoor air quality is commonly misunderstood as a number calculated in particles. Instead, it refers to getting fresh air into a home.
A BGE energy audit is a great way to determine what your indoor air quality "score" is and how to fix any deficits that may exist. A great way to figure out indoor air quality is to consider a common misconception.
A very good carpenter that works around houses every day once said to me during a discussion about air sealing a house:
"Well gee, don't you need to let the house breathe?"
This comment has a direct tie to indoor air quality. The answer is, YES, of course. But, what we need to discuss is the difference between uncontrolled and controlled "breathing".
With the use of sophisticated modeling software, data collected during the audit will calculate the required air changes per hour for each individual home that is inspected. The assessment looks to tighten a building's shell, therefore calculations are made as the house stands now and projections are calculated if the house is tightened.
The great thing about the BGE energy audit is that you can find out your indoor air quality status now without getting any additional work done. Some houses are too tight before any measures are taken and the occupants are happy to know there is a deficit and how to remedy the issue. An energy audit consistently delivers the options for solutions which gives the homeowner complete control.
What does a BGE Energy Audit Look for on the Exterior of Your Home?
A walk around the perimeter of your home by a certified auditor is an important part of taking a whole house approach to remodeling. Uncovering issues that have gone unnoticed is an effective way to prioritize your home remodeling projects.
For example, if downspouts are not properly extended from the home, recommendations on how to remedy the issue will be provided in order to keep water away from the foundation wall.
Other areas of importance are siding, windows, doors, HVAC and trim. Looking at ventilation areas on the outside of the home will also help to prioritize your next home improvement projects.
The Initial Interview & How to Prepare for a BGE Energy Audit
Pointing out comfort issues or other concerns to your energy technician is an important part of the audit. This way proper time will be set aside to investigate your specific concerns.
Here are the ways you can prepare and get the most out of your audit:
Write down any comfort issues by season
List any smells around the house you might have noticed
Think about any changes to insulation you have made since living in the home
Find out the age of your HVAC equipment
If you have a wood burning fireplace, clean out the ashes before the BGE energy audit
Get a copy of your BGE energy bill for the audit
Carve out about four hours of your time to have the audit performed
Clear any entrances to the attic, crawl space or other area that might need insulation and is hard to access
Once the BGE energy audit is complete your home's data will get entered into the modeling software. The program calculates eligible rebates. It also calculates how much energy you can save if you get the work done as prescribed.
Modeling software generates an accurate and detailed energy report.
Incentives and Rebates Connected to the BGE Energy Audit
Are you are having a specific comfort or energy usage issue? Are you in the market for insulation, efficient windows and doors, a new water heater or new HVAC?
If you said yes, then the BGE energy audit program is an absolute no-brainer for you. Here is what the incentives cover in the way of high efficiency products and solutions:
Air Sealing and insulation
Heating and cooling equipment
ENERGY STAR® Windows and Doors
Hybrid heat pump water heaters
BGE Energy Audit Instant Savings Measures
A great benefit of the BGE energy audit is the energy saving measures that the energy auditor can install in your home on the day of the audit. The "direct installs" include the following:
High efficiency LED light bulbs
Low-flow shower head fixtures
Low-flow sink aerators
Insulation for hot water heater pipe
Smart power strips
Who is Qualified to Perform a BGE Energy Audit?
There are only a select few contractors in the state of Maryland that qualify to perform a BGE energy audit. An approved auditing company in the program has a very unique skill set.
There are two unique certifications that are critical to understanding the audit process and being accepted into the program. A contractor that carries a Building Analyst certification can identify energy issues. The Envelope Professional designation means that we also know how to fix problems.
Most contractors know how to sell you what you want and install what they sell. BGE energy audit approved energy firms know how to show you what you need and install it so it makes a difference.
Can a BGE Energy Audit Help Me Find Ways to Reduce Insects/Rodents In My Home?
An energy audit has one main purpose and that is to tighten the envelope of your home. This means to let less air leak in or out. Insects travel in and out through the exact same pathways.
The answer is yes! An BGE energy audit will look around your entire home to search for air leakage. When you take advantage of the available incentives to get the work done it will also help to reduce pests.
Will the results of a BGE energy audit save you money?
A comprehensive energy assessment through BGE will save you money - no questions asked! Upon completion of your initial inspection, the auditor will install energy saving measures. This will help you save right away!
On a bigger scale, the answer gets more complicated. There are many factors that must be in the equation to determine an answer.
How long will you live in the home?
How much work does the home need?
What type of fuel do you use for heating and cooling?
A BGE energy audit is the absolute best way to figure out the answer to the $ question. In fact, that is the design of the program. The audit is the analyzation step. Information obtained during the audit can set a pathway to comfort and efficiency.
What Types of Recommendations Can Come Out of a BGE Energy Audit?
If you believe that improving comfort and efficiency is as simple as replacing windows or adding insulation to what you have then a BGE energy audit is something you should strongly consider. Following building science principles will make great sense after the audit is complete.
A typical prescription for tightening up a house and making it more efficient will include things like caulking, air sealing, insulation and weatherization treatment to the attic hatch. Walls that are accessible in the attic (knee walls) may be recommended for improved treatment and the basement rim joist is a big opportunity in unfinished areas to seal up the lower areas of the home which also account for energy waste and comfort issues.
Each home is different and the "low hanging fruit" are different for each home. A good energy auditor will find differences in the same model in the same neighborhood. The audit takes a snapshot of your home's insulation levels around the house, reports on them and makes recommendations on how to improve the boundary locations.
Residential homes and commercial buildings account for approximately 39 percent of total U.S. energy consumption.
Energy consumption within a building is made up of many parts and the building envelope is the single biggest factor in what part of the usage is waste. The envelope serves as the barrier between the inside and outside.
A BGE energy audit evaluates your home's envelope and looks for easy ways to tighten things up. A BGE energy audit can lead to more home comfort and smaller energy bills.
Have you had a BGE energy audit and if so, what was your experience? We want to know!