An energy audit is a procedure that identifies heat loss from a structure and the heat flows within the structure. In home energy audits various methods are used:
- creating air pressure in the house with blower doors, then using pressure gages to measure air flow
- also, using infrared cameras that detect hot and cold regions
- in addition, smoke sticks are used to identity flows in and out of holes, cracks and spaces in walls, around windows, around doors
The energy auditor looks for heat loss through the “building envelope” via ceilings, doors, floors, walls, windows, skylights and so on. By using the techniques and tools above, the heat flow in a house is scientifically determined, the “R-value”. Solutions may include patching holes, weather stripping, replacing windows etc.
The energy audit can also examine the performance of your HVAC system to measure its effectiveness.
The energy auditor also looks at homeowner’s behavior to recommend better energy conservation methods. And the auditor takes into account factors such as climate, age of house, and type of construction when making a report and recommendation. The auditor uses a computer model to map out the heat flows in your house and to produce a plan of increasing energy efficiency.
Possible tax credits are available through the Energy Policy Act of 2005 when changes are made to your house.
An organization called ResNET has formed a working group to develop a nationally accepted standard for a home energy audit. Currently there is none. At this point ResNET has defined an overall approach that sees:
- the home energy audit as a process
- that inspectors and contractors are both part of it
- that periodic inspections, evaluations, recommendations are part of the process
For more information visit Wisconsin's Focus on Energy website.