Ashley and I have gone above and beyond in terms of cutting our expenses – one area that we haven’t been too successful with, is cutting our heating costs throughout the winter. Oil prices were (thankfully!) at rock-bottom prices this past winter. Even so, we spent a ton on heating our house. Even though we could afford it, I didn’t like the anticipated yearly expense that heating our house was going to bring – ESPECIALLY when oil prices start going back up!
So the other day I had an energy audit conducted on my house. Let me tell you – the price of the audit ($350) was WELL worth the price of admission! The knowledge that I gained on the overall structure of my house in areas that I had zero access to (attic, exterior walls, etc.) as well as the more energy specific items like insulation, air flow, drafts, and heating systems, will forever benefit me as I continue to make my home more comfortable, reduce expenses, and make the house more energy efficient.
When you get a full energy audit, the auditor will do an overall visual inspection of your house – your heating system(s), hot water system(s), appliances, fans, vents, doors, windows, fireplaces, and everything in between. Then the true fun begins – your auditor will open up a door and put fan in the doorway (sealing up the rest of the opening in the process) – they then crank the fan up and pressurize your house – what this does is show where, if any, air leaks are coming into your house – windows, doors, fireplaces, cracks in a foundation/wall, etc. Finding these air leaks (and then fixing them) will go a LONG way towards reducing your home’s heating/cooling costs.
With the fan running, your auditor will then go throughout your house with an infrared camera that measures the temperatures of the surfaces that the camera is looking at. This camera can show you where cold air is coming in, where there are areas where insulation is missing/is inadequate, whether your windows/doors are properly blocking exterior air – this camera allows you to see potential areas of concern that you would never had access to otherwise!
Above you can see a set of built-ins in a closet of ours and the corresponding image utilizing the IR camera – my auditor quickly discovered an area of concern in the wall behind the built-ins. Clearly I have a now/low insulation issue there!
Again my auditor was able to find an area with a lack of insulation – the base of a knee wall clearly is lacking insulation, as seen by the ~10 degree drop in temperature!
Once the auditor conducts their full energy audit, they send you a report which is worth its weight in gold – not only does it give an incredibly detailed breakdown of all of your potential issues, it also gives in depth information on how to remedy the problem areas, what your potential cost savings would be with each remedy, potential payoff length for each remedy, and a general ranking of which remedies would net you the greatest savings, at the lowest cost.
My energy score and carbon score were both quite high (as expected in a 60+ year old house…) – but notice how low I can reduce my energy score and carbon score with some simple fixes – almost halving each!
So now I’ve begun work on remedying the low/no insulation areas as that has the greatest impact on cost/energy savings, and will follow up with one or two of the larger scale projects in the coming years – with the ultimate goal of reducing my energy and carbon scores into a much more energy efficient and financially efficient house!
I HIGHLY recommend getting an energy audit – you’ll be fascinated by what you learn about your house and you’ll be all set with a road map on how to make your home the most energy efficient it can be!