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!
First, the auditor needs to learn about what is going on with your house and what has you interested in getting the audit done. You can give the auditor a tour of the house. You and your auditor should discuss any details or items of interest you might want to share.
Hour 2 - Auditor Data Collection/ Testing
Every auditor has their own style and method. Data collection is a very important part of a home energy audit and a house can be fairly complicated. Typically hour two is spent apart from the technician so that accurate information can be collected through testing and measurements.
Hour 3 - Attic Inspection/ Blower Door Test
Once all information from all of the key places around your home, including your attic and crawl space, have been collected the only test left is the blower door test. The blower door test is a great opportunity to walk around the house and perform a physical inspection and go through all findings. This way, when reporting is provided the information in the paperwork will align with the things you see around your home on the day of the 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!
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.
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.
Watch this short clip that demonstrates the connection between the basement and the outside of your home that every energy auditor needs to pay attention to for you.
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.
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.
Written by Eric Gans I have over 1000 energy audits under my belt in Maryland. I like to take my personal experiences with each of my audit customers and try to get the things that concern them out into the world so others can make good home improvement decisions - in the right order - according to their needs.
Have you had a BGE energy audit and if so, what was your experience? We want to know!