Fall is often the litmus which exposes the shortcoming in building envelopes. As temperatures drop, utility bills rise and home and business owners are often wracked with extra expenses. One of the easiest ways to stem the flow of energy from a home is to improve the efficacy of the building envelope. Some of these repairs may be as simple as applying caulk to a crack while others may be as costly as replacing windows or a roof. The best way to get an accurate picture of what is really going on with your building envelope is to conduct a home energy audit.
Why should I get an Energy Audit?
Estimates claim that the cracks in the average home add up to holes that are somewhere between the size of a basketball and the size of a car. Cracks are really easy to remedy and can be a cost effective way to prevent energy loss. Knowing what needs to be done in order to reduce your home’s energy consumption means that you can plan accordingly. Small repairs can be done in the short term and can save up to 30% on your energy bill while larger projects can be budgeted in to future renovation plans. Perhaps you are contemplating putting your home on the market; presenting a home with an efficient building envelope increases the resale value of your property.
Most local governments provide homeowners with incentives to get home energy audits. The Ontario Ministry of Energy pays for 50% of the cost of an energy audit up to $150.
What will the Energy Audit Include?
An energy audit will take stock of your home’s insulation and the efficacy of your building envelope. It will also measure your heating and cooling systems to measure their energy consumption. A blower-door test will reveals the holes and cracks through which you are losing energy. Finally, you will be presented with a report and recommendations.
Energy audits are usually a pre-requisite to gaining government grants and they help to measure the improvements in energy consumption that renovations achieve. Make sure that you keep all relevant paperwork obtained through the energy audit for use when applying for government grants.
Understanding Energy Audits
Blower Door Test: The front door is sealed with plastic and a large pump pumps air from the house. Inspectors conduct smoke tests to see where air leaks exist.
Insulation: The home’s insulation is inspected. Often older homes have insufficient insulation that can really compromise your building envelope.
Appliances: An energy audit will calculate how much energy aging appliances and those on standby are using. Furnaces older than 15 years should be replaced and older appliances should be replaced with Energy STAR compliant ones. This can reduce your heating and cooling bill by up to 50%.
A home energy audit is a great starting point for creating a home that is more energy efficient, has a higher resale value and is more environmentally friendly. Knowing what improvements need to be made will help tailor your renovation budget and planning. An energy audit can also tell you where your renovation dollars are more effectively spend so that you can maximize your return on investment.