Knowing Green and Going Green

by Christine DemosApril 13, 2012

The temperatures are starting to rise, which means your air conditioning unit will come out of hibernation. As such, it’s important to know if the cool air you’re pumping into your home is staying, or leaving through the air leakage in your home.  How, you ask? By getting an energy audit of course!

We’ve posted the benefits of getting a home energy audit before, but I feel it’s time to revisit this discussion. Why? Because I just had an energy audit completed on my home, and let me tell you it was very enlightening to see the results.

As we mentioned in our home energy audit post, the first step is to have a blower door test. The blower door is a tool that auditors use to test your home’s envelope. Basically a powerful fan will be installed that fits exactly into an open outer door. The air is sucked out of your house causing negative air pressure.

blowerdoortest

This above photo shows the fan that was used to suck all the air out of my house. We also had an infrared scan completed to see areas where cold air is coming in our house by ways of cracks or lack of insulation.
Home Energy Audit 1
To the left is a picture of my living room. As you can see it has vaulted ceilings. On the wall there use to be a fireplace, but because we live in Virginia Beach where winters are pretty mild we decided to cover it up.  On the right you’ll see the thermal scan of the same space. Even though we sealed the fireplace at the top and put up drywall, you can see that is a huge area where air from inside the home is escaping. Need to pump insulation into that area pronto!
Home Energy Audit 2
This is showcasing the outlets in our home, such a small area but added up can equal a window being open in your home 24 hours a day! When I put my hand over the outlet during the blow door test, I could feel the air being pulled.
Home Energy Audit 3
And finally, these pictures are displaying another culprit in changing the temperature inside our home…the attic! You can see that the access to our attic isn’t properly sealed and insulation is missing where the wall joins the ceiling.

In addition to the blower door test, we also did a duct test which tested the efficiency of our duct work from our HVAC unit. I was informed that new construction is typically at a level 6, a “good” home is at a level 10 and guess what level my home is? A whopping 22! Given how far away it is from 10, I’m sure you can conclude that our duct system is pretty bad.

This experience was extremely enlightening. I had no idea how impactful the efficiency, or lack thereof, in our home was related to the comfort level of it. It makes sense, but to actually see the photos of trouble areas is very helpful. One thing our auditor Ed, from Dynamic Infrared Inspections, mentioned was that we need to think what will give us the biggest bang for our buck. For example, adding insulation to our attic as well as where the fireplace was located would be areas with the largest square footage, therefore make the biggest impact to the comfort of our home.  Whether you’re a buyer or a home owner an energy audit is valuable information. You will learn so much about the ins and outs of your home. And knowing green can help you to go green! If you are a buyer, think about asking for an energy audit in addition to the home inspection. It could make the difference between buying home A or home B!

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About The Author
Christine Demos
Christine is the Content Marketing Specialist for Homes.com. She's a small town girl at heart, who currently lives in Norfolk, VA with her husband and their fur baby. When she's not working, she enjoys cooking, decorating, traveling, and binge watching Netflix. As a proud Virginia Tech alum, she also loves cheering on the Hokies!

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