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Home Energy Audit

Home Energy AuditThe increase in energy cost has reinforced the need to improve the energy efficiency of our homes. Significant decrease in energy use is possible by applying specific improvements to the home. Improved durability of the home, reduced maintenance, improved indoor air quality and higher resale valve of the home are all additional benefits to improving the energy efficiency of your home. The energy crunch in the 1970’s started several federal government programs that have developed 20 years of data that can now provide us with specific improvements that will make quantitative decreases in the energy use of a wide range of products.

Most people are familiar with Energy Star. This is a rating program that has been adopted by many appliance manufacturers (such as the monitor that you are reading this web page on) and is now in wide spread use across the nation. The Department of Energy (DOE) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have combined data relating to home structures and developed strategies to improve the energy efficiency of homes. The Energy Star rating is now available for new construction and Preowned homes. A benchmark of a 30% improvement in efficiency above the typical 1985 constructed home have been set to acquire the Energy Star rating.

It is important to remember that any improvement in efficiency will decrease the energy cost while living in the home. Typical features of an Energy Star home is a more efficient building envelope, tight construction, advanced windows, an efficient HVAC air distribution system and energy efficient equipment. About 2% of the homes currently being built in the Greater St. Louis area in Missouri meet the Energy Star standards. Most homes test out at an energy equivalent of the typical 1985 constructed home.

A Home Energy Rating Service performs evaluation and testing of the energy efficiency of the home. The Energy Star program has two different components that are used to provide the energy rating for a particular home. A Home Plan Analysis is necessary to establish the physical characteristics of the home. A Home Rating Inspection is necessary to quantitatively test the building envelope tightness and efficiency of the air distribution system. The data gathered is then entered into the computer software that will compare the different characteristics of a particular home and provide a rating and estimate for energy cost. The Home Plan Analysis will collect data such as the type of construction, efficiency of appliances and orientation of the home. Each and every surface in the home is evaluated for its heat transfer characteristics. Windows, exterior and attic walls, ceilings, floors and doors all transfer heat in different forms and rates. Each has unique properties. The type of light fixtures, bulbs and efficiency of HVAC and Water Heating unit are also collected to provide important information regarding the energy use estimates of that particular home. If the Home Plan Analysis is performed on a home before construction, specific suggestions can be made to dramatically improve the energy efficiency of the home. Improvements made at this level can easily decrease the combined monthly cost of the mortgage and utilities upon move in, even at a slightly higher cost of construction ($3,000 on a typical $220,000 home).