Home Inspections and Energy Audits, the Perfect Pair

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Buying a home is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make in your life, so doesn’t it make sense to get all the information possible about the house you’re going to buy? I mean, think about it…this is where you’re going to raise your family, celebrate important milestones in your kids’ lives, create memories. Aside from the purely financial aspect, there’s also a lot of emotion that will be invested into this place. Therefore, when you do decide to buy, it’s essential to make an informed decision. One of the best ways to do that is by getting a combination of a home inspection and energy audit.

What Are Home Inspections and Energy Audits?

First of all, it’s important to understand what home inspections and home energy audits are. A home inspection is a full-scale visual examination of a house that will give you a good idea of what you can expect in terms of future repairs, improvements and maintenance should you choose to purchase that house. Experienced inspectors can pick up on certain clues that could uncover hidden issues. For example:

  • A fresh coat of paint could be hiding something underneath
  • Ceiling stains could be indicative of roof leakage problems

Energy audits partner perfectly with home inspections to provide you with an even deeper look at the inner workings of a home. An energy audit is an in-depth analysis of a home’s energy performance. Why is this important? Because through diagnostic testing, an energy audit will reveal where and how a home is losing energy. Losing energy can result from any number of issues, including:

  • Poor insulation
  • Air leakage
  • Inefficient appliances

All of which lead to the same place: an uncomfortable home that’s expensive to maintain.
So How Do Home Inspections and Energy Audits Work?
Let’s start with the home inspection. Remember, this is a complete visual inspection of the home, from top to bottom. At the end of it, you’ll receive a written report, including the inspector’s notes about such things as:

  • Grounds:
    • Grade relative to drainage, yard drains, walks, driveways, landscaping, patio/slabs
    • Outside lighting, dangerous trees or limbs, fences and gates
    • Outside faucets and retaining walls
  • Exterior:
    • Siding, shutters, trim rot, paint and caulking
    • Eaves, porch, porch rails, stoop, stoop rails, deck, deck rails
    • Doors, sliding doors, garage, garage door openers and windows
  • Roof:
    • Material type, roof style, flashing and roof penetrations
    • Skylights, gutters, downspouts, splash blocks, rafters and other upper framing elements
    • Ceiling joists, roof decking, water penetration
  • Electrical:
    • Grounding equipment, main panel, sub panels
    • Over current protection, ground fault protection
    • 110 volts and 220 volt circuits, receptacles, light fixtures, switches and safety concerns
  • Appliances:
    • Unit manufacturers
    • Dishwasher, oven and energy source, range and energy source, refrigerator, trash compactor and microwave
  • Plumbing:
    • Water supply, water shut offs, water pressure, water pipes, water heater, waste water disposal, waste and vent pipes, plumbing fixtures, laundry connections, bathrooms

These are some of the areas that home inspectors look at and while at first glance even this partial list seems pretty wide-ranging, would you be surprised to learn that an energy audit can tell you even more?

Certified RESNET Home Energy Auditors are highly skilled specialists in energy efficiency. They understand how a house functions as a set of inter-related systems, and how an issue or change in one area can impact on another area of the home.

Through diagnostic testing with specialized equipment, an energy audit (also known as a comprehensive HERS Rating) pinpoints those parts of your home where energy is being lost. Typically, a HERS Rating will include:

  • A visual inspection (without use of diagnostic testing equipment) to assess:
    • Building envelope features (windows, doors, insulation, ducts) and ages
    • Heating, cooling and ventilation equipment types, characteristics and ages
    • Appliance and lighting characteristics
    • Comfort complaints
    • Visible moisture issues
    • Visible health and safety issues
  • Diagnostic testing using specialized equipment such as a blower door test, duct leakage tester, combustion analyzer and infrared camera to determine:
    • The amount and location of air leaks in the building envelope
    • The amount of leakage from HVAC distribution ducts
    • The effectiveness of insulation inside walls and ceilings
    • Any existing or potential combustion safety issues
  • Provides a computerized simulation analysis utilizing RESNET Accredited Rating Software to calculate a rating score on the HERS Index. This report will also contain a cost/benefit analysis for the recommended improvements and expected return on investment.

Ask for an Energy Audit with Your Home Inspection!

RESNET has entered into agreements with two of the largest home inspection networks in the U.S. to offer low-cost energy audits as add-ons to home inspections. There is a growing awareness of the value of adding an energy audit to a home inspection. Not only can it play a decisive role when buying a home, it also:

  • Provides cost-effective solutions to energy-related issues
  • Adds to the resale value of a home
  • Helps lead to a healthier living environment

So when it comes time to book that home inspection for your new home, do yourself a favor and add on an energy audit as well. It’s the best way to make an informed decision about the house where you’ll be raising your family!

What to Look for When Searching for a Home Energy Auditor

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As a homeowner, you want to protect your most valuable asset by using the best-qualified professionals for your home improvements and renovations.

When using the services of a Home Energy Auditor – an expert in the field of home energy efficiency – finding the right person for the job is an important step toward lower energy bills and improved home comfort.

A Home Energy Auditor will provide you with a report on the overall energy efficiency of your home and offer advice on what steps you can take to achieve optimum performance through cost effective measures to correct any problem areas.  Finding a Home Energy Auditor who has the qualifications and expertise to give you the best advice means contacting someone who is RESNET certified.

A RESNET certification ensures a professional Home Energy Auditor has completed training to achieve a high level of knowledge and expertise in home energy efficiency. The certification standards for RESNET trained people are recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the U.S. Mortgage Industry, and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

RESNET certified professionals abide by three areas of conduct:

  • Technical proficiency: They are well trained and must demonstrate a high level of technical proficiency. In addition, they are committed to improving their knowledge and skills through continued and ongoing training.
  • Ethics: All RESNET professionals must conduct home energy audits within the guidelines and standards put in place.
  • Objectivity: Contained in the RESNET Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics are strict rules regarding objective ratings or audits. A RESNET certified Home Auditor must disclose any financial interest they have in a home they are auditing.

Of course you will want to find an Auditor you can trust and you work well with. Talk to friends and neighbors who have recently used a service provider; you can also use the RESNET database to search for certified professionals in your area. Your path to lower energy bills and increased home comfort begins with finding the right auditor for the job.

With the high standards and level of achievement required to obtain certification, you can be sure that using a RESNET certified Home Energy Auditor will mean you will receive accurate reports and good advice on your home’s level of energy efficiency.

A Home Energy Audit Leads to Increased Home Comfort!

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What many people may not realize is that the comfort of their home is closely tied to how energy efficient their house is. There are few things more uncomfortable than sitting in a cold and drafty living room during the middle of winter (and this in spite of having set the thermostat on high), or trying to fall asleep on a hot summer’s night when the air-conditioning just doesn’t seem to be kicking in. And let’s not even get into how much you’re paying in utility costs each month!

 

The fact is, high energy costs and uncomfortable homes are directly related through a lack of home energy efficiency, and that’s where energy audits can provide some much needed relief.

 

What Are Energy Audits?

Energy audits, also known as energy assessments, identify where and how a house is losing energy, which systems are working inefficiently (i.e., heating and cooling, ventilation, etc.), and will propose cost-effective solutions to rectify these problems.

 

How Many Types of Energy Audits Are There?

Certified RESNET Home Energy Auditors offer two different types of energy audits that you can choose from:

 

1. Home Energy Survey

A Home Energy Survey is a visual inspection that doesn’t involve the use of any diagnostic testing equipment. Its purpose is to assess the general energy performance of an existing home including:

  • Building envelope features (windows, doors, insulation, ducts) and ages
  • Heating, cooling and ventilation equipment types, characteristics and ages
  • Appliance and lighting characteristics
  • Comfort complaints
  • Visible moisture issues
  • Visible health and safety issues

 

The process includes a review of your energy billing history and utility usage in order to better understand where savings can be achieved. A full report of the assessment is provided, including basic recommendations on how you can improve your home’s energy efficiency, as well as low-cost, DIY tasks. Also included is information on relevant utility-based programs that could help you cut down on your energy usage.

 

2. Home Energy Rating

Of the two energy audits, the Home Energy Rating is the more in-depth one. It consists of everything included in the Home Energy Survey, but goes much further by also providing diagnostic testing using specialized equipment (i.e., blower door test, duct leakage test, infrared camera, etc.) and a computerized simulation analysis using RESNET Accredited Rating Software to calculate a rating score on the HERS Index. The report also gives you a cost/benefit analysis for recommended improvements and the expected return on investment.

 

Lower Utility Bills, Improved Quality of Life…What Could be Better?

A home that’s not energy efficient is costly not just in terms of money but also health. Energy audits can help stop energy loss in your home, leading to a healthier living environment and lower energy costs. Contact your local certified RESNET Home Energy Auditor to find out what your options are.