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Question DetailsAsked on 1/6/2014

How do I know the firm doing my energy star home energy audit is unbiased, not just selling their pet products?

I have an older home, probably not real energy efficient, and the HVAC, water heater, and appliances are likely to need replacement in the next couple years. I want an energy audit to get a "road map" for what is likely to be thousands of dollars of improvements. How do I know the company performing the audit is going to give me good recommendations that will generate real energy savings? Should I have one company do the audit and another do the work?

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7 Answers

Voted Best Answer
1
Vote

Most true energy audits are done by certified energy auditors, not by HVAC or insulation contractors - and then, since they are selling only their service, you are not being sold a product or follow-on service.

Unfortunately, there are a large number of "certifying" agencies and companies out there - I trust the BPI (Building Performance Institute) Certified Energy Auditor (CEA) certification.

You might check your local state housing agency or local building department for ideas on local trends in energy certifications - also google something like this - certified energy auditor license Delaware - or whatever state you lie in, to see if there is a requirement in your state for licensing for energy auditors.

Also check with your local gas and elecric companies - in some areas they have grant programs to help cover the cost, or in a few actually do audit themselves.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD

2
Votes

+1


Deal with an energy auditor or at least a contractor that has a solutions based approach and the diagnostic equipment and intellect to see what needs fixing first.


If you haven't done it already, air sealing and insulation are going to be the next thing you should do.

Answered 6 years ago by WoWHomeSolutions

2
Votes

Make sure the contractor performing the audit ia an approved "home performance with energy star" contractor. Most state energy programs use only approved contractors who generally are BPI certified and follow BPI energy audit protocols using BPI certified technicians. Most of the contractors use approved energy audit software which calulates the potential energy savings from any recommended retrofits. All will use a specialized blower door which measures house envelope air leakage so plan to be present during the audit so you can see for yourself where your expensive heat/AC is going...The audit will also include health & safety of combusion appliances using specialized equipment and possibly ductwork leakage.

If the contractor is utility/state approved, the quote for work will be fair with the asssurance the work is being performed by trained personnel who understand your home. Stay away from bargain contractors and insulation-

Answered 6 years ago by hosey

1
Vote

hosey, has the best answer.Not much to add.


It is tempting to to have testing by one and the work done by another, but who knows better how to do the work and what needs to done, than the one that tested the home.


One thing to look for is, all insulation and sealing should be done first, as this will likely reduce the size of the HVAC system that will be required. So don't just replace the equipment first, if you intend to seal and insulate.

Source: www.bayareacool.com

Answered 6 years ago by BayAreaAC

0
Votes

Thank you LCD, WoWHome Solutions, hosey, and Bay Area AC! Your quick and helpful answers are right on point. Now I have the info I need to research an energy auditor in my area and get this project done. Hooray--I'll actually complete my New Year's resolution this year!

Answered 6 years ago by Guest_90762627

0
Votes

Thank YOU for the feedback, we don't see that often here.

Source: www.bayareacool.com

Answered 6 years ago by BayAreaAC

0
Votes

Yes - thank you for the feedback.

A couple of additional technical thoughts - a LOT of energy auditors do the blower door test (which checks for air-tightness of the house) with negative pressure - with the fan pulling a small suction on the house, which simulates conditions during windy days when natural drafting xxxx air out of the house. However, what this test does is pull air IN at teh points where natural conditions would normally suck it out, so it is really a backwards concept.

Also, most tests fail to do the most obvious things - test it in pressurization mode, which is the normal mode during HVAC system operation in all but the most windy parts of the country, and also while the blower door is pressurizing the house, walk all around AND in basement and attic and any crawlspaces and roof, and with a recording thermal infrared imaging camera, make a recording of WHERE the air is coming out - knowing the total air loss tells you if you generally have a "tight" house or not, but not being able to see where that heat is coming out does not help any. Thermal IR scan costs about $150-250 more, but worth far more than the blower door test itself, in my opinion - if I had to make a choice, I would go with the IR scan during normal HVAC system operation with heater or A/C on (which shows not only air leaks but wet spots in walls or floors and insulation and vapor barrier problems) over a blower door test.

The basic problem, is with high labor costs, is they have cheapened down the test to a magical blower door tightness calculation that is actually rather meaningless because it includes air movign through vents and exhaust fans and furnace and such. Sort of like the BMI - the Body Mass Index, which says a person of a certain height should weigh a certain amount - regardless of whether they have a body build, muscle versus fat weight, and bone structure like peewee reese or hulk hogan - plain bunk for the sake of one simple, magic number when it is not at all that simple.

To keep it cheap, a normal blower door test does NOT seal off exhaust fans, water heater and furnace flue or air intake, etc - so a large but UNKNOWN amount of the air infiltration or exfiltration during the test is at these locations you have little control over. For a proper test, though this takes more time and money, these items should be sealed off (typically with shrink wrap plastic) so the test measures the losses that can feasibly be affected by insulation and weatherstripping - this greatly accentuates the losses detected by the IR camera, also. I have seen houses "fail" a blower door test based on overall airflow, but after sealing off exhaust flues, were actually "tight" to the point of being unsafe without artificial ventilation.


Answered 6 years ago by LCD

0
Votes

Boy, I guess Angie's List is REALLY sensitive about certain types of comments about the website, because its censor software replaced a word with xxxx - missing word is s-u-c-k-s, as in the wind causes suction on the lee side and roof of the house, creating a partial vacuum in the house, pulling conditioned air out of it to the outside world.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD




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