In this age, much attention is being paid to energy. Electric cars, cars that get better gas mileage, LED lighting, more eco-friendly forms of electricity production, etc. so most people are conscious of the role of energy in their lives, and the need to optimize the use of power. Even if you are not looking for a carbon-neutral footprint, or to make your home a self-sustaining, totally green endeavor with solar panels, geothermal HVAC, etc., energy efficiency is still worth pursuing. Saving on home energy costs makes smart financial sense, even if you don’t care about the environment. But how do you go about knowing how energy efficient your home is, and what you can do to improve it? That information can be obtained from a home energy audit, performed by house energy efficiency audit contractors and house energy efficiency audit companies.
You can go one step further, to get it certified by house energy efficiency certification services. Both provide information and benchmarks for you to know how your home stacks up on average, and against a perfect, no-loss system. It can help guide purchase and upgrade decisions for all home systems, as well as provide valuable information to potential home buyers or tenants about how much they are likely to spend on energy, and what kind impact a home has on the environment.
In this guide, we’ll look specifically at the differences between house energy efficiency audit services and house energy efficiency certification services, walk through the energy audit process, and talk about the benefits of a home energy audit. Then, we’ll briefly touch on taking things a step further, with a house efficiency certification, and explain how that process works, along with the benefits that it offers to consumers.
It’s useful to understand the differences between house energy efficiency audit services and house energy efficiency certification services before we go any further. First, most companies that offer audits also offer certification, though this is not universally true. Second, the audit process generally provides meaningful feedback and data to a homeowner or consumer, such that they can get a sense of how energy efficient their home is, and make decisions for future purchases, renovations, replacements, and so on. The energy certification process, on the other hand, is like a test – it’s a confirmation that the house is energy efficient to a certain standard, and proof of that fact for the homeowner.
The purposes behind house energy efficiency audit services and house energy efficiency certification services are also somewhat different. As mentioned above, the audit process provides benchmarks to allow for the homeowner to make decisions on purchases, upgrades, renovations, and other modifications to a home, to make it more energy-efficient. The energy certification process is designed more to enable a homeowner to use that fact in applying for government grants or rebates, tax credits, and so on. It’s also popular to have a house energy efficiency certificate for selling the home, as it can add to the value significantly in many areas. Those aren’t necessarily the only purposes, but they are the core of what house energy efficiency audit services and house energy efficiency certification services do daily.
House energy efficiency audit services may differ in exactly how they conduct a home energy efficiency audit. However, the underlying things to check – the areas of interest – are pretty much the same in most homes. The degree to which each of these different elements contributes to an overall audit result can also vary, though we’ve listed them below in approximate order of importance and impact that they can have. Again, some house energy efficiency audit services may have even more robust listings of systems and areas of the home to check, but this is a basic guide as described by many house energy efficiency audit companies as well as government agencies.
First, the audit involves locating any air leaks that may exist in the home. Cooling and heating account for a large portion of the energy used in most homes in the industrialized world. Air leaks can mean as much as 20% or more of that energy is being wasted. Typical areas that are checked include sites along the foundation, where wall segments meet, around junction boxes, lighting fixtures, and pipes, fireplaces, ventilation systems, and windows and doors. House energy efficiency audit services point out that there are several ways that this process can be conducted, including the use of infrared cameras, temperature measurements, and inert smoke trace testing.
Next, most audits involve checking insulated spaces for leaks. While it is not possible typically for house energy efficiency audit services to get behind drywall and examine the insulation there, areas such as attics, crawlspaces, and similar are often accessible. There are various methods to check behind walls and in other inaccessible spaces, the most advanced of which involve thermographic inspections with sophisticated equipment. Appropriate insulation is required to ensure that your home is efficient at using heating and cooling energy, as well as maximizing natural heating, cooling, and thermal effects from the day/night cycles and outdoor weather patterns.
Then, a house energy efficiency audit services company will usually take a close look at the heating and cooling (HVAC) equipment you have in place. They can check to see when it was made, what its output and efficiency ratings are, and how well it may be performing. They can also examine the ducting system in many cases, to see if ducts are properly insulated, or if you lose energy because of poorly sealed or insulated systems and vents. As much of a home’s energy bill stems from HVAC, this is an important area when considering an overall audit.
Other aspects of a home energy audit that house energy efficiency audit services will conduct is reviewing lighting fixtures (traditional incandescent bulbs are highly inefficient) and checking appliances, electronics. Many are surprised to find out that a lot of devices and electronics draw significant energy use from the electrical system, even when they are entirely off or idle. Thermostats are also usually checked for accuracy/calibration related to the HVAC systems.
The net result of the energy audit from a house energy efficiency audit services company is that consumers will have a good sense of how well their home stacks up against ideal circumstances – where they are in good shape, and where they can make changes or improvements that will improve their house energy efficiency. That has many benefits. Learning where you are losing or wasting energy, such as through air leaks or inadequate insulation, can provide cost-effective, easy targets for consumers to fix, either themselves or through a handyman or other service company.
At the same time, the information from house energy efficiency audit services can serve as a guide to prioritize where to spend your home improvement funds. If an energy audit finds your HVAC system is time-worn and inefficient, upgrading to a new one can be some of the best money you spend, and pay for itself over the life of the device. Learning that 10% of your energy use every month is being wasted just because computers, TVs, and other devices you don’t even use are plugged into the socket is also a simple situation to fix. Many people find that audits inform them that their windows and doors are very leaky, and while not everyone can afford to replace them right away, some improvements – like caulking, sealing, and weather stripping – can go a long way to mitigating the problem at a little cost.
The process used by house energy efficiency certification services to certify a home is functionally identical to an audit. The only difference is instead of providing a report of values, the house energy efficiency certification process checks those values against a pre-determined level or set of benchmarks. There are standards developed for the house energy efficiency certification services to test against, and levels in a home being certified need to meet those thresholds to achieve certification.
House energy efficiency certification services are designed for consumers who already have made energy improvements on their home and are looking to have proof of how energy efficient their home now is. While this may be a source of pride, of course, the real purposes in most cases are for house valuation. An energy-efficient home, as proven by a house energy efficiency certification service certification, can command more money during a sale, since the low energy use is certified, and the quality of energy-efficient measures are taken to insulate and secure the home are definitively known.