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
Important Note Before Beginning
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.
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".
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Building Performance Institute
BGE Approved Energy Contractor