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Energy Audit Maryland - Look for these Signs

Performing a home energy audit without proper testing equipment or training is not possible, however every Maryland homeowner can follow the information in this article to decide if getting a comprehensive home energy audit is worth the investment. 

As an energy auditor, one discouraging thing is to get to a house to perform an energy audit only to soon realize that it simply was not necessary.  In most cases, getting an energy audit for your home is well worth the $100 it costs in Maryland, but unless you see the following signs - you may want to take that money and put it in savings instead!

Understand the Main Targets to Make a Home More Efficient

Understand the Main Targets to Make a Home More Efficient

Important Note Before Beginning
Take a look at this graph showing average US household energy consumption.  According to the local Maryland power companies statistics, average US households consume heating and cooling the most.

Therefore, it is important to find ways to reduce heating and cooling costs if we truly want to achieve an efficient home in Maryland.

A comprehensive Maryland energy audit can uncover great opportunties for improvements, but it is best to go through the signs below to see if your house is a well-suited for the extra investigative work that comes at a cost.

Energy Audit Maryland

What is A Comprehensive Home Energy Audit?

In order to decide if you need a comprehensive home energy audit, it is helpful to have a specific idea of it's overall function.

According to the EPA Local Residential Energy Efficiency website, existing residential homes typically offer several opportunities for energy efficiency improvement.  

Since each home is unique due to additions, personal touches and different levels of upkeep,  opportunities may differ from home to home, even within the same neighborhood.

The EPA says  "energy audits assess how much energy a home consumes and evaluates measures to make the home more energy efficient".

Energy Audit Maryland

Sign #1: High Energy Bills & Lack of Comfort

Of all of the instruments and tools on the market to determine temperature, humidity and air speed, hands down the best measurement for comfort is the human body.

Comfort is defined by considering all of the following:

  • Air temperature
  • Humidity levels
  • Air movement
  • Surrounding surface temperatures
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Activities inside the home
  • Personal metabolic rate
  • Clothing

CONCLUSION
If you are consistently uncomfortable in your home and you are paying your energy bill then suffice to say that is one strong reason to considering getting a comprehensive home energy audit.  You can sign up for a Maryland energy audit here.

Energy Audit Maryland

One quick way to check if you should have a home energy audit is to look up at your rim joist next time you are doing laundry in the basement and look for spider webs. 

Sign #2: Check for Air Infiltration

Pathways for air to communicate between the inside and the outside of the home are considered "air leakage points" and must be on any do it yourself home energy checklist.

Some of the most interesting concepts about how to make a home more energy efficient can be identified by items that are hiding in plain sight! 

A clear cut sign that you should get a home energy audit is if there are a lot of spider webs around the house, especially in areas that are connected to the outside.  One example of where this is usually a problem is at the top of the foundation wall in a basement. 

Another place this might happen is at the ceiling of the closet next to the attic hatch.  

Spiders instinctually create webs where there is air movement. 

CONCLUSION
If you see a spider web - then you are likely to have found an air leak and you spot a lot of them then you have a leaky house!  Get a Maryland home energy audit with a blower door test to find all of the places where holes exist. You can sign up for a Maryland home energy audit
here.

Energy Audit Maryland

If you can see the ceiling joists at the attic floor then it is a safe bet that you need more insulation to have a more energy efficient home.

Sign #3: Assess Insulation Level

I have bad news for you - if you want to decide if you need a comprehensive Maryland home energy audit, you will need to pop you head in the attic.

Any home energy audit checklist needs to include consideration of the insulation.

Most older homes are only at 50% of the required R-Value (and sometimes less!). How much do you have in yours?

A very simple way to determine if you should get a home energy audit is to determine what the current R-value is of the insulation you currently have around the house.  You can use this guide to determine what calculations you need to use for measuring R-value.

Here is a list of the general R-values for the different areas around the home that are required to be insulated:

  • Recommended Flat Attic Insulation Level - R49
  • Recommended Sloped Attic Insulation Level - R38
  • Recommended Vertical Wall Insulation Level- R13
  • Recommended Rim Joist insulation Level - R19
  • Recommended Cantilever Insulation Level - R25
  • Recommedned Crawl Ceiling Insulation Level - R25

CONCLUSION
Insulation resists the flow/transfer of heat and therefore will keep the heat inside during cold seasons and outside in warmer times.  A lack of insulation in the attic is a very good reason to have a comprehensive home energy audit because it will likely yield additional opportunities in other areas where insulation is less than effective.  Sign up for an audit today by clicking
here.

Maryland Energy Audit

Sign #4: Check for Knee Walls

A knee wall is best described as a vertical wall that touches living space on one side and it also touches the "outside" on the other side. 

The difference between a knee wall and an exterior wall is that the knee wall typically has one side to the inside living space and one side to an attic area. 

Insulation is only going to work if it is in good (almost perfect) contact with the surface in which it is meant to insulate.  Unfortunately, due to poor installation, exposure air flow and gravity knee wall insulation is rarely in good contact with the knee wall surface.

If your home has a lot of kneewalls around the home, it is a good idea to have a comprehensive home energy audit.  You can learn about the different types of knee walls here.

Often times, thermal imaging can reveal issues with poorly sealed and insulated kneewall that cannot be accessed otherwise.

CONCLUSION
Kneewalls, in addition to being notoriously under insulated, are also very leaky and require a trained eye for spotting, measuring and prescribing solutions, so having more kneewalls is cause for a more in-depth investigation and a Maryland home energy audit will be worth the money spent.  Get an energy audit through Maryland's energy company: BGE or Pepco's Home Performance w/ ENERGY STAR by signing up
here.

home energy audit Maryland

Sign #5: HVAC Duct Inspection

According to the EPA and other studies, the ducts in your home can be leaky enough to account for up as much as 30% of total energy loss.  

In order to determine if you should get a comprehensive Maryland home energy audit, the first question related to this important step is to know where the ducts are located.  Duct that run through the attic or a crawl space that are not conditioned space (outside) will cost more.

One easy way to determine the location of your ductwork is to look at where the supply registers are located.  Generally, in the upper most floor of the home, if the registers are in the ceiling, ducts are likely in the attic.  Same goes for ducts in the floor above a crawlspace.

A comprehensive home energy audit will thoroughly investigate duct insulation levels and leakage and in some cases may perform testing.

CONCLUSION
Although ducts that are inside the conditioned space of the home are prone to leakage and pressure imbalances that can cause comfort issue, the waste associated with them is not nearly as significant as ducts thare outside of the thermal envelope.  As a result, a home energy audit less needed for the house with ducts inside and more in order for a house with ducts running outside.  If you think you need a Maryland home energy audit - sign up for one
here.

Building Performance Institute Certified
Building Performance Institute
Building Analysts
Envelope Professionals
BGE Approved Energy Contractor
Pepco Approved Energy Contractor

Having your home evaluated by Hometrust is a great way to identify your next home improvement project. 
Certifications earned through the Building Performance Institute demonstrate our ability to:

  • Find air leakage points around your home. 
  • Show you steps to improve energy efficiency.
  • Use science to guide improvements to comfort.  
  • Educate you how to tighten your building's shell. 
  • Learn about these opportunties before it is too late. 
  • Provide a unique perspective on your home's overall performance. 
  • Determine the root cause of any problems.
  • Assess current insulation effectiveness.
  • Measure air flow.
  • Evaluate windows, doors, siding and roofing.
  • Put you in complete control of the outcome.
    Specialized Maryland Contractor
    • MHIC Licensed
    • Building Analyst Certified
    • Envelope Professional Certification
    • EPA Lead Renovator Certified

    Hometrust Remodeling is a licensed contractor specializing in a whole-house approach to home remodeling with an emphasis on educating our customers, providing energy efficient solutions, maintaining a network of high caliber technicians and using building science principles.  As a result, we can effectively guide Maryland homeowners towards projects that satisfy comfort needs, aesthetics and value.

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    Calvert County, Carroll County, Anne Arundel County, Baltimore County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George's County

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    North Laurel, MD 20723
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