Value of Home Energy Assessment (Audit)?

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Gilberto de Piento
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Value of Home Energy Assessment (Audit)?

Post by Gilberto de Piento » Tue Feb 12, 2019 10:46 am

Someone recently recommended that I have a home energy assessment (also known as an audit) done. I'm skeptical because it sounds like it will cost between $200 and $400 and I don't think they are going to be able to tell me anything I don't already know. I know the insulation sucks but the mechanicals are new. I know the doors are bad but the windows are good. Is there any value to the audit? What did you find out from one?

As far as I can tell there are no government incentives to have the audit done, only to have the work done afterwards. Even then I would have to hire a contractor to get an incentive, there is nothing for DIY.

Augustus
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Re: Value of Home Energy Assessment (Audit)?

Post by Augustus » Tue Feb 12, 2019 2:15 pm

Thermal leak detector gun is $35 bucks. I was able to insulate my house so well that I had a radon build up problem after using the thermal heat loss gun, I found about 20 leaks and then used caulk, weather stripping, and 3m plastic sheeting to seal them all up. I spent around $50 and I saved around $70 per month in the 5-6 mos of winter. They also have FLIR smart phone gadgets, but they're expensive last time I looked. You're just looking for leaky spots.

It also depends on how bad your heating bill is. If you're not spending very much on heating there isn't much return on investment. See polar vortex thread: viewtopic.php?f=14&t=10426&start=20

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Gilberto de Piento
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Re: Value of Home Energy Assessment (Audit)?

Post by Gilberto de Piento » Wed Feb 13, 2019 10:23 am

Thanks, I will look into the leak detector gun. I didn't know about the radon though. I don't like the sound of that!

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Riggerjack
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Re: Value of Home Energy Assessment (Audit)?

Post by Riggerjack » Wed Feb 13, 2019 11:53 am

Radon wasn't a problem before we started building tight building envelopes. It's not the only problem with sealing up an old building, but it's worth considering.

Radon gas is emitted from the earth, with the main source being granite, if I remember correctly. It's not a significant problem here in the Puget Sound, we mainly build on former river bottom, so there is little radon to worry about.

Where radon is a problem, it just gets collected and pumped out through ducts.

The bigger problem with sealing old buildings is ventilation. Buildup of humidity and condensation/mold problems.

But Tech to the rescue! Look into Heat Recovery Ventilation, (or Energy Recovery Ventilation, depending on manufacturer and how it deals with condensation). This is a powered fan that pulls air out of the envelope, transfers up to about 65% (and oftentimes considerably less) to the fresh air it pumps in.

I haven't installed one yet, as they were just coming out when I built the island home. I will install one in a few years, and post the results, but if you are considering this kind of work, this may be the solution to the problems you haven't installed, yet.

Good luck!

Augustus
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Re: Value of Home Energy Assessment (Audit)?

Post by Augustus » Wed Feb 13, 2019 12:17 pm

I learned that fresh air is important. Poor mans radon mitigation is airing out the house once a day. I bought a radon detector (which is expensive ($200)! but to avoid cancer... I'm okay with the cost). The radon in our old place after sealing it up was getting in the 4-5 pCi/L range, by opening all the windows an hour a day I got it below the 1 pCi/L range.

What I learned about radon is that it's very random. Most counties, and probably amazon, let you buy cheap paper one times use tests. I'd recommend doing one. You can have areas the size of a single house with high radon build up, while the rest of the county has low level amounts.
Cigarette smoking is by far the most common cause of lung cancer in the United States, but radon is the second leading cause. Scientists estimate that about 20,000 lung cancer deaths per year are related to radon.
https://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancer-ca ... radon.html

Lucky C
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Re: Value of Home Energy Assessment (Audit)?

Post by Lucky C » Mon Feb 18, 2019 4:43 am

My energy company, National Grid, does free (socialized) energy assessments and will even assist with improving energy efficiency after the test. You should double check that there isn't a free program like that for you via your energy company.

For air leak detection, you can burn incense near windows, doors, outlets, etc. on a cold day and see where the smoke is going. I haven't tried it but it makes sense that it would help you pinpoint better than trying to just feel for a draft.

The main thing to do besides checking windows/doors in your living space is check all penetrations in your basement and attic - plumbing, electrical, vents, etc. Even when you get plumbing or electrical work done well by professionals, there's no guarantee they're going to air seal all the holes they make. Worse is when the previous owner did some DIY and was blissfully unaware of how much heat you could be wasting through a 1" gap - which takes you months to notice if you're not carefully inspecting every square inch of your basement. Check all of these areas: https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/weat ... -your-home

Also I've found that part of my air leak issue is due to a imbalance of pressure in my heating/return vents, and/or the chimney stack effect. That would not be a quick fix but switching to geothermal will help, especially since I will then be able to knock down the flue chimney and seal off that huge roof & attic penetration.

For heat loss detection, I bought a lightly used FLIR thermal camera that was the cheapest one listed. Even though it was $300, I should be done with it by next fall at which point I can resell it to get most or all of the money back. You may be able to get one cheaply now since winter is mostly over.
More useful than just a leak detector gun and in the end the savings greatly outweigh the small cost.

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Gilberto de Piento
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Re: Value of Home Energy Assessment (Audit)?

Post by Gilberto de Piento » Mon Feb 18, 2019 10:53 am

You should double check that there isn't a free program like that for you via your energy company.
Thanks. I checked it out and there are rebates for having a contractor do work but unfortunately no rebates for assessments.

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