The energy auditor, unlike many other home service technicians, has a unique interdisciplinary training and certification that gives them a broad perspective about the energy efficiencies of a house as a whole. Calling in a trained home energy auditor can improve your home and make it a more comfortable place to live.
Essentially these highly trained auditors are big picture guys with training and background that allows them to identifying all sorts of problems and consider a host of energy saving solutions. Oftentimes, these auditors can address multiple, inter-related home issues with a single solution, or address several issues with a single project.
For instance, let’s say a homeowner brings in an energy auditor because of an uncomfortable second floor bedroom. Its just not staying in sync with the rest of the house and the homeowners suspects he is hemorrhaging money heating and cooling the room because of a design flaw. The readily identified solution by an untrained person may be to add insulation in the attic above the room.
Insulation (fiberglass, shredded paper,…) will separate the unconditioned (hot or cold) air in the attic above the bedroom from the bedroom below, so the bedroom won’t “inherit” different temperature air from the attic above it. However, typical insulation does not actually stop air flow but merely slows it down. Therefore, adding insulation may help somewhat, but it will not fully address the comfort issue.
A better solution is one that stops all air exchange between the attic and bedroom by air sealing all the shared air leaks or cracks. This is easily done by injecting foam into cracks, holes, and seams in the attic floor so that unconditioned attic air cannot move into the conditioned space below it. This foam will form an airtight barrier between the two different temperature zones. This is a professional application, not one that comes out of a can.
Nonetheless, even a well-done air seal above this bedroom in the attic (and ideally the rest of the attic), may not have fully mitigated the issue. There might be another cause for this air exchange between the heater/unheated space or cooled/uncooled space.
Perhaps inadequate or subpar air flow through this room’s air vents is the true culprit of the issue, which could be a result of a design flaw, an under-sizing of the heating or cooling system, or a leakage in the duct works, or over or undersized duct runs on the supply or return side. A general contractor, insulating specialist, or drywall guy may not likely know or identify any of these as a possibility.
Ah hah! So there is a tremendous upside value add by having a trained home energy auditor assess your home’s energy usage!
It is not a simple as you think. Any home energy efficiency or comfort issue needs to be evaluated by a professional who understands how the house works as a system to accurately diagnose and mitigate or eliminate the issue.
EPA’s Home Performance with Energy Star program is set up to ensure that the home improvement contractors who provide energy saving tips have training to properly diagnose these types of issues to ensure that effective upgrades are suggested. This means professionals are typically required to have training in “building science” or the “building envelope”, which is a niche field that combines both engineering and architectural principles and teaches how the home works as a living and breathing system, so any issue can be comprehensively diagnosed and effectively addressed. Further, the integration of “medium”-tech equipment like the infrared camera (checks for air leaks/insulation levels), combustion analyzer (assesses efficiency of appliances), and manometer (measures air pressure differences) ensures a precise and insightful analysis.
So, if you own a house, regardless of how long you have owned it, seriously consider having a trained, certified energy auditor give your house a physical. There’s a pretty good chance that you’ll realize some energy savings immediately, make your home a little more comfortable, and have a better understanding of a more complicated shortcoming of your home and what you can do to rectify it. Knowing what you’re living with, is a good thing.
Be sure to also read these Green Blizzard articles: Gift Ideas For A Green Handyman, What is Phantom Electricity?, Green Cleaning Products, Savvy Green, Energy Efficient Windows and Water Conservation Around The House.