Posts Tagged ‘air leakage’

Home Energy Audits Uncover Lost and Wasted Energy

June 17th, 2010
home energy specialist

A home energy expert checking a furnace's efficiency.

A home energy audit can help to find where energy is being lost and wasted in a home. From the audit, various inefficiencies will be identified and then the homeowner can decide on how to improve these various efficiencies.

For example, a home energy audit may identify that a house leaks air three-times greater than the optimal air exchange rate, that the batt insulation in the attic is eight inches too thin, that an on-demand water heater can improve efficiency over the current tank water heater, that the heating system in a home looses 20% of it’s efficiency through duct leakage, and other typical energy losses in the home.

Then the questions are… What do I fix first? Which energy improvement will return my investment the quickest? Which improvement will save the most energy?

It turns out in most cases that the simplest fix is the best for return on investment, and the precursor to other energy-saving improvements as well.

air leakage in a home

You wouldn't open a window in the winter, but many houses have the equivalent in air leakage.

Reducing air leakage from the house envelope is typically the most significant energy improvement to reduce energy use, as well as improve comfort. In many houses, it is found that the equivalent of an open window exists in air leakage through openings, joints, and cracks in walls, floors, and ceilings, and around windows and doors.

Sealing these air leaks is a relatively low-cost start to better home energy efficiency and don’t require too much specialized equipment other than an infiltrometer (blower door) and smoke pencil.

Sealing air leaks means that less cold air in the winter would replace heated air in the home (heated air that you paid to heat!), reducing drafts and cold areas. In the summer, more hot and humid air would be kept out of the house (and if you paid to cool the air this could be a significant savings). Also, the entry of air quality concerns such as dust, radon, and pollen can also be reduced.

For standards and guidelines on the design and maintenance of indoor environments visit ASHRAE, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers.

Another potential benefit associated with reducing air leakage, is the ability to downsize heating and cooling equipment when it is replaced. Thus air sealing is sort of the gateway to home energy savings. But only a comprehensive home energy audit can tell you this, and a truly sophisticated audit will identify whether air sealing, attic insulation, a new furnace, replacement windows, or whatever else are the best options to save money and energy at home.

One such company that does comprehensive home energy audits is Dr. Energy Saver.