Home Energy Audits
A home energy audit can help a homeowner understand how energy is used in the home, and where it can be used more efficiently or reduced. PECO estimates that energy improvements such as installing efficient windows and doors, upgrading heating and cooling systems, and reducing drafts with insulation and caulk can reduce energy use by up to 40 percent.
Home energy audits are typically conducted by professionals that are certified by nonprofit credentialing organizations such as the Building Performance Institute or other similar agencies.
Your Home as a System
The home energy audit will look at your home as an entire system to understand how all of house's elements interact, such as its heating and cooling systems, windows and doors, insulation, stormwater drainage, efficiency levels of the appliances, etc. The house will be inspected from the attic to the basement for problems such a mold and mildew, with the goal of identifying the underlying causes.
A complete home energy audit will include a "blower door test", which places a large fan in a door opening to create negative air pressure to find any areas of air leakage. Some auditors also use sophisticated devices such as infra-red-detectors to find areas where the house is leaking air. The contractor will look at the way your windows and doors have been installed and how well they operate. (Small cracks and gaps around windows and doors can amount to the equivalent of leaving a window or door open all year.) In the end, you will be provided with a full report that may include several options for improvements, complete with the return on investment for various improvements.
Very often, improvements such as upgrading windows and doors and caulking gaps can significantly reduce energy use. The contractor can help you to perform the improvements if you are interested. These kinds of improvements also make your home a more comfortable, healthy, and cost-effective place to live.
Certified energy auditors are available from a variety of sources, including through a program sponsored by EnergyWorks which is a program of the Metropolitan Caucus, a coalition of elected officials from southeast Pennsylvania counties including Chester County. EnergyWorks is supported by a grant from the US Department of Energy's Better Buildings Program.
Keystone HELP is a home energy loan program that can help finance improvements, and can help find qualified contractors.