Making your home more energy efficient is something that is being encouraged by many of the utility companies nationwide. Home energy audits are performed by HVAC contractors specialized in assessing the energy efficiency of a home. The way your home was built, the type of insulation used, the condition of your ductwork, windows and chimneys all plays into how energy efficient your home is.
When performing home energy audits, HVAC contractors will use things like infrared cameras and blower door testing equipment to measure the “leakiness” of your home. These tools identify air leaks as well as heat energy leaks due to poor insulation and other related issues.
After testing, you will receive detailed information about the efficiency of your home, along with possible savings that can be obtained by performing a home energy upgrade.
Indoor air quality (IAQ) must be dealt with when performing any type of home energy audit and energy upgrade. Why? Because the more efficient your home is, the more polluted your indoor air can become. Any contractor not talking to you about indoor air quality when recommending home energy upgrades should be scrutinized.
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The insulation in your home plays a huge factor in energy efficiency. Many times after home energy audits, additional insulation is required in ceilings, attics, walls and garages. For existing construction, blown insulation is a very effective, non-destructive choice. However, you need an HVAC contractor who knows how to do it right, and get around blockages correctly. Insulation can be made of many things such as mineral (rock or slag) wool, plastic fibers, natural fibers, foam board, foam beads, cellulose and fiberglass (blown), foil-faced…and more.
A blower door test is an important part of a home energy audit because it causes leaks to be exaggerated in the home. Blower door testing equipment, such as that from RetroTec featured to the left, is mounted inside the door frame of an exterior door. All other windows and doorways in your home are shut. The powerful fans in the blower door testing unit lower the air pressure inside, which causes outside air to be pulled in through air leaks. This combined with thermography is a very accurate method of measuring home energy efficiency. www.retrotec.com
During a home energy audit, your HVAC contractor will probably use some type of thermography – this measures temperatures (can be done inside or outside the home) using infrared video and/or still cameras. Interior thermographic scans are more common, because measuring escaping heat energy outside the home can be difficult depending on the climate. A thermographic test is best done in conjunction with a blower door test, so the energy leaks are exaggerated which makes detection more accurate.
As mentioned above, the HVAC contractor handling your home energy upgrade should also talk to you about indoor air quality. This is a crucial part of an efficient home, because tightly sealed construction locks air inside. Any indoor contaminants such as VOCs, molds, allergens, dander, bacteria and viruses is then trapped inside, with no way out. Indoor air quality products include ventilators, electronic air cleaners, whole house humidifiers and UV lamps. These work together to purify and protect your indoor air. Read more at indoor air quality.