Home Energy Audits
With all the emphasis on going green these days, home energy audits have significantly increased in popularity throughout the past decade. A home energy audit is often the first step in making your home more energy efficient. A certified energy audit can help you evaluate how much energy your home uses. A certified energy auditor can recommend measures you can take to improve your energy efficiency. Hiring a skilled energy auditor is the best way to obtain exact recommendations for improving the efficiency of your home. A certified energy auditor can use a range of techniques and equipment to determine the energy effectiveness of your home. Thorough audits often use equipment such as blower doors, which measure the degree of leaks in the building envelope, and infrared cameras, which reveal hard to detect areas of air infiltration and missing insulation. Once an energy audit is conducted, your certified energy auditor will provide you with a report including information on all areas that could seek improvement in your home. Remember an energy audit itself does not save energy; you need to implement the recommended improvements to obtain the level of energy efficiency in which you are looking for.
When selecting an energy auditor it is helpful to know what training your auditor has undergone. You will want to keep in mind that an energy audit may not necessarily be accomplished by just anyone using “auditor” as a title. In your state, home energy audits may be performed by Home Performance Contractors, Building Analysts, Energy Inspectors or Home Energy Raters. All of these titles are used to illustrate qualified persons who can proficiently perform an energy audit. There are several areas where you can locate professional energy auditing services. Your state or local government Energy or Weatherization office may help you identify a local company or organization that performs certified home energy audits.
Here are some common qualifications you may come across when seeking to find an energy auditor.
The Building Performance Institute (BPI): An energy auditor certified as a Building Analyst has passed a two hour, 100 question written exam with a score of at least 70%, as well as passing a field exam. The BPI does not mandate strict training prior to the exam, but a classroom or online course is highly suggested. A usual prep course for the BPI certification exams is about a week of full time training. A BPI Building Analyst is certified to perform blower-door tests (which should be done both before and after upgrades), combustion appliance inspection and repair, air quality testing including carbon monoxide detection, duct testing and airflow testing. A BPI analyst needs to be re-certified every three years, either by re-taking the exams or by providing proof of continuing education from a BPI affiliate. BPI training may seem short, a week's worth of classes, but bear in mind that most contractors seeking BPI certification already have extensive experience in the building industry. For this reason, most businesses with BPI certified contractors will market themselves as Home Performance Contractors rather than Energy Auditors.
The Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET): A RESNET certified auditor, or a HERS (Home Energy Rating System) Rater, has passed a two-hour, 50-question written exam with a score of 80% or better. RESNET trained auditors have performed two ratings proctored by a RESNET education provider, and three more "probationary" ratings within 1 year of passing the written exam. ALL ratings done by a HERS Rater are presented to a RESNET affiliate for quality control and approval. A HERS rater also takes approved continuing education courses throughout the year, totaling at least 12 hours of classroom instruction. Like BPI, RESNET does not offer or mandate training as a requirement for taking their certification exam, but again is highly recommended. A typical RESNET preparation course is about a week's worth of 8 hour days in the classroom and the field.
With over 11 billion of stimulus money provided to state and local governments to help reduce home energy use, and with more and more states implementing home energy laws, now would be the best time to invest in a home energy audit. Home energy audits are said to improve a home’s energy consumption by 30% on average, and depending upon the upgrades you choose to make, you may be eligible for certain federal tax credits. Once an energy audit is accomplished, you will feel that your home is more comfortable, safe, durable, more energy proficient, and may even have a greater resale value. Plus, once your home is more energy efficient, you have the added benefit of knowing that you are preserving the environment.
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