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Home technology expert Ross Trethewey goes on a house call to help a homeowner figure out her energy loss. After discussing her energy consumption concerns, Ross suggests a home energy assessment and gets to work.
Start on the Outside
A good home energy assessment starts outside. The assessor will be looking at the siding, windows, roof, foundation, chimney, gutters, and any penetration for vents, wires, and piping. They’ll be looking for gaps or damage, as well as proper drainage to ensure the home is as enveloped as possible from the outside.
Use a Blower Door [https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/blower-door-tests] to Check for Leaks
Shut off all the combustion appliances, close all wall openings, vents, or flues, and set up a blower door in one of the exterior doorways. Set this blower door to roughly 50 Pascals and allow the fan to get up to speed. Use a thermal imaging camera and a small smoke machine to find cold air penetrating through walls, windows, the basement rim joists, vents, and other areas.
Input the Data into the Computer Model
Input all of the data compiled during the assessment into the computer model. Following the above formula, the model will determine where the majority of energy loss is, whether it’s the windows, walls, roofs, or other areas. Use this information to make decisions about future upgrades.
Where to find it?
Ross conducts a full home energy assessment. He recommends starting with walking the exterior of a home to visually inspect siding, windows, and the roof.
Siding: What is the condition of the siding? Are there any gaps in the siding?
Windows: What kind of shape are the windows in?
Roof: What is the condition of the roof? Are any shingles missing? Is the attic vented or not?
Water: Is there any obvious water damage? Are there any signs of puddling? Are gutters/downspouts conveying water away from the building? When it comes to the exterior, you want to make sure there aren’t ways for water to get into the house.
For the interior walkthrough, Ross says to evaluate all major devices and systems. He also recommends checking for insulation and taking measurements (like the length, width, and ceiling height of rooms).
To identify where air leakage is occurring, Ross conducts a blower door test [https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/blower-door-tests]. A blower door is a machine used to measure the airtightness of buildings. It can also be used to measure airflow between building zones, to test ductwork airtightness and to help physically locate air leakage sites in the building envelope.
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How to Conduct a Home Energy Assessment | Ask This Old House