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Energy Audit Today - Any Suggestions

Post in 'The Pellet Mill - Pellet and Multifuel Stoves' started by bdaoust, Dec 3, 2013.

  1. bdaoust

    bdaoust Member

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Western, MA
    I'm having an energy audit done today. Anything I should ask or make sure they do?

    Thanks!
    -Brian

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  2. smadanairb

    smadanairb New Member

    Joined:
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    NH
    Brian,

    I’m an energy auditor (residential and commercial) myself. Here’s a semi-comprehensive list of items they should do:

    Limited audit scope:
    Check for gas leaks at all connections
    Perform a combustion test on all combustion appliances (measuring draft, CO, spillage)
    Perform a blower door test
    Perform a pressure differential test if you have an attached garage (this will tell you if the garage is “connected” to your house via air movement)
    Perform the same for the attic and basement if both spaces are unconditioned (not heated)
    Perform a thermal scan of the building while the blower door is operating (this will highlight air leakage)

    Your biggest bang for the buck will be:
    Air sealing in the basement and attic (use spray foam to seal holes, building cavities, chases, interior wall top plates, etc…)
    Attic insulation using LOOSE FILL CELLULOSE. Not fiberglass (insulate to R-60 no matter what the code is. Insulation will performance in summer and winter)
    Seal and insulate the duct work (if present)
    Install door weather stripping and sweeps
    Seal and insulate all bath fans that travel through unheated spaces (In fact, make sure the bath fans are exhausting outside and not in the attic)

    Best,
    Brian
    Madcodger likes this.
  3. bdaoust

    bdaoust Member

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    Loc:
    Western, MA
    Thanks Brian.
    • My garage is attached, but only via a breezeway - so I still need to go outside to get to it.
    • House is a Cape - attic I believe is accessed through a crawl space with entry via the closet. One side only.
    • So R60 no matter that the code is?
    • The bathroom does vent to outside. Last year I put some insulation in there and capped it off. No need to run it during the winter.
    My electric company will be 75% of costs up to $2,500 for insulation. Hopefully this won't cost me a fortunate as I just bought the house last year and placed a hefty down payment in cash.

    Thanks for the info!
  4. briansol

    briansol Minister of Fire

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    Watch the 'techs' like a hawk and hide everything of value like jewelry boxes out of sight. lots of people have been getting these done, and then broken into later. it's a free scoping out of properties.
  5. Madcodger

    Madcodger Guest

    And hoping they were certified... ResNet and/or BPI... Every year I hear about people who get "free" energy audits, often from a pitch at a home show. Generally just a sales scam for windows, siding, insulation, etc.... A real audit requires paying a certified auditor!
  6. bdaoust

    bdaoust Member

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    Western, MA
    The program was through my electric company. The incentive was to pay 75% up to 2,000

    They gave me all the bulbs for free and will do 8 hours of air sealing for free.

    I need insulation in the attic and in the ground level walls of the 1,200 sqft Cape. My walls only has an inch.

    My out of pocket for the insulation would be $2,000, which I thought was higher than expected. Not sure how much the average jobs costs.
  7. bdaoust

    bdaoust Member

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    Oh he as BPI certified.
    Madcodger likes this.
  8. peakbagger

    peakbagger Minister of Fire

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    During the blower door test follow the auditor and make obvious notes on infiltration points. No need to pay someone to do the easy stuff like gaskets in outlets and caulking. Ideally you want to identity the stuff that you cant do or hidden things that will improve the energy efficiency. If they run a thermal camera ask for copies of the shots, they are on usually on a usb stick so its not difficult for the auditor to give you a copy.
    Madcodger likes this.
  9. Madcodger

    Madcodger Guest

    Fantastic! Sort of assumed as much based on your question. Posted that more as reminder to others.

    We formerly owned a home repair business (we did not do audits but frequently recommended them) and every year we would spend time talking customers OUT of new windows, etc., they didn't need after they got a hard sell quote from some company that had done an "energy audit". We would have made money putting them in (and our quotes would often have been lower than those they were receiving), but they just weren't needed (other, cheaper fixes were almost always the culprit).

    The funny thing is, selling people on the NEED for an energy audit - something from which we wouldn't make a penny as we didn't even accept referral fees from local auditors - was almost impossible. We would have customers perfectly willing to spend a multiple of the cost of an audit on new windows, etc., they didn't need, but they wouldn't spend $500-$600 for an audit and not much more than that to do things like proper air sealing and insulation.

    We sold the company earlier this year (my wife ran day-to-day ops as I have a separate company in another industry). One of the deciding factors in accepting the offer was that we found it so difficult to have customers engage in this type of thinking. I've also known of good energy auditors and companies who left the industry because so few people would pay for their services. We live in a world of bling buyers... Sad...
  10. Madcodger

    Madcodger Guest

    Amen! A good auditor is a teacher. Do stay out of their way (they are professionals and their time is valuable) so don't be "underfoot". But walking through the audit with them is a great learning experience. Just stay out of dangerous areas if you're not experienced - never pretty to see someone fall through an attic (and it happens more than you think).
  11. bdaoust

    bdaoust Member

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    Loc:
    Western, MA
    It's funny Madcodger on your comments about windows. He basically said the same thing you did. People are way hung up on windows and he said something like 10% of loss is through your windows. He also echoed your comments about how the business is very very tough.

    Do you think the price is reasonable that I posted above?

    Details :

    Dense pack to 4 inches in the walls through the vinyl siding. 944sqft
    Air sealing
    Attic Slope Dense Pack 4 inches 620 sqft
    Polyisacyamurate (sp?) 2" Kneewall Slope 245 sqft
  12. saladdin

    saladdin Feeling the Heat

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    Loc:
    West Tennessee
    Am I the only one who doesn't know what "cape, ranch..." means? In my area no home is referred this way.Realators list homes in sq ft, number of rooms/baths, brick or vinyl siding and 1 or 2 floors and if it has a basement (not common here). Giving your house a fancy name like that has to be a regional thing. I read a post where one guy referred to his house as a "bungalo." What the heck is that?

    Now that is off my chest.

    Do you have a lowes? Mine will let you rent the blower machine for free if you buy so much insulation. Do it yourself for way cheaper then that...
  13. Madcodger

    Madcodger Guest

    It's always tough to know if a price is "reasonable" without seeing the actual job (we always did free estimates for just that reason). However, I'd say it likely is appropriate and not out of line. MA labor rates aren't cheap (at least you're not on the other end of the state, where they're likely higher). And getting good quality is worth a little bit of premium. If the quote was through your local utility they have generally done some vetting of these contractors as well.

    I have a local energy auditor coming in next week to air seal my duct work (from the inside), even though we use our heat pump about 80% less in the winter than before we installed our second stove. But we will be experimenting with using it for distribution, humidification, etc. We also use it in the summer for air conditioning. I'm paying $2K for that. I could likely have bargained it down, etc., but the company is well known and experienced, and that's worth a small premium to me. If you trust these folks to do quality work, I would be OK with it personally.
  14. Madcodger

    Madcodger Guest

    So, those are pretty standard terms... Maybe not bungalow, but a ranch is essentially a single story home (with or without a basement). A cape is generally two stories, pitched roof with gables at each end and few other roof features (possibly dormers) - it generally suggests an open attic area that is easily accessible.

    As for DIY, you are absolutely correct. Now, the question is, did you air seal that attic before you insulated? If not, you did 1/2 the job, or possibly less than that. Did you check for proper clearance over recessed lighting, or the proper type of recessed lighting fixtures to be covered with insulation? House fires due to failure to do that happen every year. I'm not saying DIY is bad. In fact, it's great and I highly encourage it! But being able to have your buddy or kid stuff bundles of insulation into a machine while you point a hose is what many people think of as "insulating your attic" when in reality there's a bit more to it, if you want to do it right.

    Not that's off my chest...
  15. briansol

    briansol Minister of Fire

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    bdaoust likes this.
  16. john193

    john193 Minister of Fire

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    I'm assuming your duct work is in the attic. If so, I'm curious about something because using my distributor to move the heat has been on my mind. However, since my vents are in the ceiling, I've been closing them with the idea that it would somewhat minimize heat loss. Am I helping by doing so?
  17. saladdin

    saladdin Feeling the Heat

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    Thanks. Now when I go home tonight I'll tell the wife we live in a bungalo. Sounds much nicer...
    Madcodger and bdaoust like this.
  18. Madcodger

    Madcodger Guest

    We have no attic ductwork... Late '70's contemporary with all metal ducting. Main trunk in basement running length of house down center, then branching perpendicular off that. 2nd story runs go up outside walls and are very inefficient. Overall a lousy design, but the science wasn't advanced back then.

    I'm not quite clear on your question but am happy to help if I can... In general, any ducts through unconditioned space should be avoided (despite being woefully common). Are they metal? Plastic and insulated? What's the sealing look like for them (how well taped)? And how old? You are definitely losing some heat via an unconditioned attic duct, but how much depends on several factors...

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