WHAT IS AN ENERGY AUDIT?
The purpose of a financial audit is to examine, verify, and if necessary, correct the financial records of a company or individual. An audit determines the accuracy of the records. An energy audit isn’t much different. An energy audit examines a building from the foundation to the roof to determine what parts of the building envelope needs attention. It determines whether the HVAC system is properly sized and optimally installed; which appliances might be energy-hogs; whether there are air leaks in the HVAC ductwork, around windows and doors, and in the attic; and whether there is optimal insulation in the floors, walls, and attic. The most important thing an energy audit does is that it gives the homeowner a plan for what needs to be done and gives a reasonable estimate of what can be saved for making the recommended improvements – where the homeowner can get the “most bang for the buck”. To achieve the greatest return on investment, an energy audit looks at a building as a single system. For instance, a high efficiency HVAC unit will achieve only a little of its anticipated energy savings if 25 percent of it conditioned air is leaking into the attic or crawlspace through poorly sealed ducts. And added insulation does little good without first air-sealing all those gaps and cracks and crevices that allow cold winter air to infiltrate the attic.
An energy audit is not a casual stroll through a building. A professional auditor uses all sorts of high-tech instrumentation to determine if and where a building is wasting energy. A blower-door depressurizes a building to identify air leaks. To detect leaks in ductwork, an auditor will pressurize the system using a duct-blaster or pressure pan. In some buildings, an energy auditor will use an infrared camera. Unlike a regular camera that is sensitive to visible light, an infrared camera is sensitive to heat and cold. It can actually see through walls and ceilings and floors to determine what’s behind them and how it affects the flow of hot and cold air. It can tell the auditor where there are insulation gaps. And coupled with a blower-door, an infrared camera is an invaluable tool for determining points of air infiltration that might be missed otherwise.
So, if you’re interested in reducing the carbon footprint of your home, making your home a more comfortable place to live, and saving money on your utilities in the process, start with an energy audit. It will show you where you can make the most cost-effective improvements. That is what Carolina Green Energy Systems, our sister company, does. Visit the website at www.carolinages.com to learn more.