An energy audit starts with a visual and mechanical inspection of the interior and exterior of the house. This includes checking in the attic, crawl space for improper sealing of the duct work, insulation gaps, construction flaws, and penetrations open to the attic and basement. We also check for window and door sealing.
The audit is a comprehensive assessment of every facet of your house’s energy use. We start off by pressurizing your house, and locating all those cold drafts and the air leaks that cause them. We then move on to evaluating your existing insulation. In additions it will include assessments of your appliances, your water and energy use, and every aspect that contributes to overall efficiency.
The Thermal Envelope is the space that you live in. It is the separation between the interior and the exterior environments of a building Often this envelope has deficiencies that allow air to leak from inside to outside. A house with a poor thermal envelope is like a ship with small holes all over. A well-designed thermal envelope reduces energy waste and overall heating and cooling costs. The thermal envelope is so important to your home’s energy efficiency that Efficiency Kansas is giving a $500 rebate toward the first $500 you spend on thermal envelope improvements as outlined from your Efficiency Kansas audit.
To be energy efficient the thermal envelope must address structural integrity, moisture control, temperature control, and control of air flow and pressure boundaries. It serves as the outer shell to protect the indoor environment as well as to facilitate its climate control. Control of air movement through the thermal envelope itself, as well as through the interior spaces affects insulation effectiveness greatly.
Air leaks account for most of the heat loss in any structure. The higher up in the structure the leak is, the more warm air will escape outside and the more energy will be wasted. Basically, the thermal envelope is a fancy name for the system of insulation and seals that keep conditioned air from leaking out of the house. This includes the following things:
- Attic insulation
- Wall insulation
- Leaks in the attic hatch at the top of the house
- Window seals and weather striping
- Seal between foundation and sill plate
- Miscellaneous seals around outlets, bathroom fans, ceiling lights, recessed light fixtures, dryer vents, etc.
- Door seals and weather stripping
All of these aspects of your thermal envelope as well as many other factors will be assessed in your energy audit.
You need insulation in your home to provide resistance to heat flow and loss. The more heat flow resistance your insulation provides, the lower your heating and cooling costs will be.
Heat flows naturally from a warmer to a cooler space. In the winter, this heat flow moves directly from all heated living spaces to adjacent unheated attics, garages, basements, and even to the outdoors. Heat flow can also move indirectly through interior ceilings, walls, and floors - wherever there is a difference in temperature. During the cooling season, heat flows from the outdoors to the interior of a house. The same factors that make your house cold in the winter make it hot in the summer.
To maintain comfort, the heat lost in the winter must be replaced by your heating system and the heat gained in the summer must be removed by your cooling system. Properly insulating your home will decrease this heat flow by providing an effective resistance to the flow of heat.
Insulation is a critical and relatively inexpensive way to implement major savings in your utility bills. It is often one of the first priorities in the energy audit recommendations.
Energy consumption patterns include electricity use. The energy audit will include:
* Looking at your utility bills over the past year
* Calculating energy consumption
* Recognizing consumption trends.
By understanding your "energy habits" and becoming more energy efficient, you can reduce your usage, lowering costs.