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  1. #1
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    Jul 2002
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    Yuma, AZ
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    How to Choose a Company to Do a Home Energy Audit

    I thought this is a good article to share:
    http://www.energyvanguard.com/blog-b...e-Energy-Audit
    "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education."
    Mark Twain
    More at: http://www.quotationspage.com/subjects/education/

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Rochester NY
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    4,763

    Allison has LOTS of good stuff...

    If it's a forced air distribution system, they probably will also measure the amount of duct leakage in each system, especially is the ducts are outside the building envelope.
    But he's primarily a Rater. They always test duct work. It's required.

    We almost never do. Homeowners don't seem ready to pay for thorough duct diagnostics yet - paying for the basic audit is challenge enough.

    How about this nice explanation of thermal boundary...
    Which makes more sense to you?
    CONSERVATION - turning your thermostat back and being uncomfortable. Maybe saving 5-10%
    ENERGY EFFICIENCY - leaving your thermostat where everyone is comfortable. Saving 30-70%

    DO THE NUMBERS! Step on a HOMESCALE.
    What is comfort? Well, it AIN'T just TEMPERATURE!

    Energy Obese? An audit is the next step - go to BPI.org, or RESNET, and find an auditor near you.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Arnold mo
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    3,978
    Good thread & good question. I am biased, because I am an independent auditor. My company does not perform any of the work associated with energy conservation measures that may be recommended as a result of the energy audit. The simple fact IS that many companies are using the Energy Audit as a sales gimick/tool to get one of their salespeople into the home to sell their products & services. I mean really, how long do you think an energy auditor would last who worked for a window company and he DIDN'T recommend window replacement?
    Ask yourself this, if you knew of a car diagnostic shop that only did professional diognostics of your car and did not perform repairs, wouldn't you go to them to have your car's problems diagnosed? Not saying all auto mechanics are dishonest - not by any means - and neither am I saying all companies offering "free" or "$49.00" energy audits are dishonest.
    What I AM saying is that the training & equipment costs associated with performing energy audits is quite expensive, and any company offering such cheap or "free" audits is making up the loss from doing these audits that cheap by marking up their other products & services to cover that cost.
    I wouldn't want to have an energy audit performed by a company whose only way to cover the loss of doing cheap energy audits is by having their energy audit recommend their other products & services.
    I also agree with the article regarding HVAC diagnostics. If a homeowner can find an energy auditor with training, experience & certification in HVAC diagnostics in addition to the usual energy auditor credentials, then that would be the one to go with. All the good that can be done by following an energy auditors recommendations can be undone if the hvac system is ignored, or botched up during a system replacement.
    An answer without a question is meaningless.
    Information without understanding is useless.
    You can lead a horse to water............
    http://www.mohomeenergyaudits.com

  4. #4
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    Jul 2002
    Location
    Yuma, AZ
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    Quote Originally Posted by tipsrfine View Post
    ....and neither am I saying all companies offering "free" or "$49.00" energy audits are dishonest.
    What I AM saying is that the training & equipment costs associated with performing energy audits is quite expensive, and any company offering such cheap or "free" audits is making up the loss from doing these audits that cheap by marking up their other products & services to cover that cost. Retail stores offer "loss leaders" to bring in customers in order to sell them other items at regular markup (whatever that is). I wouldn't want to have an energy audit performed by a company whose only way to cover the loss of doing cheap energy audits is by having their energy audit recommend their other products & services. If that is scary, would you have a contractor come in and give you a FREE estimate?
    I also agree with the article regarding HVAC diagnostics. If a homeowner can find an energy auditor with training, experience & certification in HVAC diagnostics in addition to the usual energy auditor credentials, then that would be the one to go with. That I agree on 100%. All the good that can be done by following an energy auditors recommendations can be undone if the hvac system is ignored, or botched up during a system replacement.
    Buyers always need to keep their wits about them, and find ways to test the integrity of the sellers. Caveat Emptor and keep good records and notes. Any unwritten promise or claim has no value.
    "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education."
    Mark Twain
    More at: http://www.quotationspage.com/subjects/education/

  5. #5
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    Location
    Yuma, AZ
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    Quote Originally Posted by tedkidd View Post
    ...Homeowners don't seem ready to pay for thorough duct diagnostics yet - paying for the basic audit is challenge enough. How about the subtraction method using the BD?

    How about this nice explanation of thermal boundary...
    Thanks for the good article.
    "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education."
    Mark Twain
    More at: http://www.quotationspage.com/subjects/education/

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Rochester NY
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    Quote Originally Posted by lynn comstock View Post
    How about the subtraction method using the BD?
    1 What would you charge for that?

    2 Do you think it would have much meaning in homes that ductwork is inside, which is most homes in my area.

    found the answer to the second question:
    And a final word of caution when using the subtraction method, if the measured duct to house pressure is less than about 20 Pa (meaning the duct system is very well connected to the house structure), we suggest that Blower Door subtraction (modified or not) can not be relied upon to provide meaningful duct leakage estimates. This commonly means that Blower Door subtraction can not be used in houses which use building cavities for a significant part of the duct system (e.g. basement houses which use panned under ceiling joists for return ducts). In these cases, the duct system must be tested directly with a Duct Blaster.
    But would still love to know the answer to the first...
    Which makes more sense to you?
    CONSERVATION - turning your thermostat back and being uncomfortable. Maybe saving 5-10%
    ENERGY EFFICIENCY - leaving your thermostat where everyone is comfortable. Saving 30-70%

    DO THE NUMBERS! Step on a HOMESCALE.
    What is comfort? Well, it AIN'T just TEMPERATURE!

    Energy Obese? An audit is the next step - go to BPI.org, or RESNET, and find an auditor near you.

  7. #7
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    Jul 2002
    Location
    Yuma, AZ
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    Quote Originally Posted by tedkidd View Post
    1 What would you charge for that?
    2 Do you think it would have much meaning in homes that ductwork is inside, which is most homes in my area. No, if the air barrier is positioned and sealed correctly against the insulation.

    found the answer to the second question:

    But would still love to know the answer to the first...
    APS, our local electrical utility advertises this test at $99.00 which we accept. Most of the ductwork in Arizona is outside to the house envelope, ducts are seldom sealed during installation and units are oversized to cover the leakage. We do it at the price as set by APS. It is a good source of off season work. It also positions us as experts in our local market. (Certified by BPI and APS.)

    If the ducts are inside of the home envelope, air leakage is not energy wasted but leakage may affect comfort in some rooms if the leakage is great enough. It the ducts are partly inside and partly outside the BD and DB can be used together to isolate the leakage to the outside. The process is no more comlicated than the BD test when you have the DG700 digital manometer.
    "I have never let my schooling interfere with my education."
    Mark Twain
    More at: http://www.quotationspage.com/subjects/education/

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    south louisiana
    Posts
    3,323
    had to giggle...if that were my blower door fan set up as it is in the link..
    it would be backwards. my rings to reduce air flow go to the interior and the solid
    wire frame goes to outside. must be newer version?? ..I see DG 5000 or higher
    whereas my gages are magnehelic. (sp)

    ted
    it takes time to seal off every supply box and return(s).
    first whole house number with everything sealed off (supply & r/a)
    is taken
    then the return is opened slightly..so that homeowners can feel the leakage..
    return is opened completely and differences between whole house
    reading is subtracted from number including duct leakage.
    the diff is duct/return leakage. not 100% accurate but pretty close.

    also you have to watch pressure. we test house and ducts at 50pa (pascals)
    I understand that in other areas ducts are tested at 25pa.
    if there is a lot of duct leakage pascals will drop from 50 to 40 or lower.
    then the can't reach 50 factors apply. on my equipment the cr50factors
    are printed on the gages.
    in these cases you note the cr50 & multiply.
    or bring the pa back up to 50 & subtract.

    you know how the rings work..
    if you test a house that only reaches 30 pascals then you use cr50.
    if its a tight tight house, then rings are added to reduce air flow
    for a more accurate reading. with my equipment if the house leakage
    is less than 2000 cfm you add ring A...less leakage ring B etc.


    I use newspaper & blue painters tape to seal supply & r/a.
    energy conserv. has a wide adhesive that covers all of supply registers
    but its expensive. and often takes more than one pass.
    I'm pretty fast..takes me about 45 minutes to seal off 10 supplies
    and one return. the more you do it the faster you get.

    but you have to carry ladders. I have a 4&6' with me, and always
    ask if I need to bring the 8'. if a supply is high on a staircase...I'm not
    risking life and limb...and if you need to scaffold up..I'm not the one.
    built enough scaffolds back in the day..

    I seal one supply grill for the homeowner to diy or hire out,
    with mastic tape from inside the house. so I carry a drill and extra screws
    in addition to the mastic tape.


    as far as the price for testing ducts..its included in the price I quote.
    rarely do I test with a blower door that I don't test
    ductwork also. almost never.
    my minimum fee is 2x your pro-rated
    fee. the more hvac systems, the larger the house, the more complex
    price goes up.

    interesting article Lynn..thanks for posting.
    The cure of the part should not be attempted without the cure of the whole. ~Plato

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Arizona
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    4,423
    Quote Originally Posted by lynn comstock View Post
    APS, our local electrical utility advertises this test at $99.00 which we accept. Most of the ductwork in Arizona is outside to the house envelope, ducts are seldom sealed during installation and units are oversized to cover the leakage. We do it at the price as set by APS. It is a good source of off season work. It also positions us as experts in our local market. (Certified by BPI and APS.)
    .
    Lynn are you working on only APS referrals or are you advertising for some of your leads?
    Make your expertise uniquely valuable.

    Make your influence uniquely far-reaching.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Arizona
    Posts
    4,423
    Quote Originally Posted by energy_rater_La View Post
    had to giggle...if that were my blower door fan set up as it is in the link..
    it would be backwards. my rings to reduce air flow go to the interior and the solid
    wire frame goes to outside. must be newer version?? ..I see DG 5000 or higher
    whereas my gages are magnehelic. (sp)

    .
    I believe they have it set up in pressurization mode (Blower fan reversed) for what ever reason.
    Make your expertise uniquely valuable.

    Make your influence uniquely far-reaching.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Arnold mo
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimj View Post
    I believe they have it set up in pressurization mode (Blower fan reversed) for what ever reason.
    Older homes may have vermiculite insulation in the attic, so a de-pressurization test is not allowed. Also, a pressurization use of the blower door can be usefull for an infrared imaging of the attic to detect air leakage from the conditioned area.
    An answer without a question is meaningless.
    Information without understanding is useless.
    You can lead a horse to water............
    http://www.mohomeenergyaudits.com

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Arizona
    Posts
    4,423
    Quote Originally Posted by tipsrfine View Post
    Older homes may have vermiculite insulation in the attic, so a de-pressurization test is not allowed. Also, a pressurization use of the blower door can be usefull for an infrared imaging of the attic to detect air leakage from the conditioned area.
    Agreed, a smoke stick is also much more visual when in a positive pressure checking for air leaks.
    Make your expertise uniquely valuable.

    Make your influence uniquely far-reaching.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Rochester NY
    Posts
    4,763
    Quote Originally Posted by energy_rater_La View Post
    had to giggle...if that were my blower door fan set up as it is in the link..
    it would be backwards. my rings to reduce air flow go to the interior and the solid
    wire frame goes to outside. must be newer version?? ..I see DG 5000 or higher
    whereas my gages are magnehelic. (sp)

    RUNNING FANS FOR EXTENDED PERIODS IN REVERSE BURNED UP THE MOTORS (I GUESS DOES NOT COOL AS WELL IN THAT DIRECTION). NEWER FANS DON'T HAVE REVERSE. SO YOU HAVE TO SPIN THE FAN.

    ted
    it takes time to seal off every supply box and return(s).
    first whole house number with everything sealed off (supply & r/a)
    is taken
    then the return is opened slightly..so that homeowners can feel the leakage..
    return is opened completely and differences between whole house
    reading is subtracted from number including duct leakage.
    the diff is duct/return leakage. not 100% accurate but pretty close.

    also you have to watch pressure. we test house and ducts at 50pa (pascals)
    I understand that in other areas ducts are tested at 25pa.
    if there is a lot of duct leakage pascals will drop from 50 to 40 or lower.
    then the can't reach 50 factors apply. on my equipment the cr50factors
    are printed on the gages.
    in these cases you note the cr50 & multiply.
    or bring the pa back up to 50 & subtract.

    you know how the rings work..
    if you test a house that only reaches 30 pascals then you use cr50.
    if its a tight tight house, then rings are added to reduce air flow
    for a more accurate reading. with my equipment if the house leakage
    is less than 2000 cfm you add ring A...less leakage ring B etc.


    I use newspaper & blue painters tape to seal supply & r/a.
    energy conserv. has a wide adhesive that covers all of supply registers
    but its expensive. and often takes more than one pass.
    I'm pretty fast..takes me about 45 minutes to seal off 10 supplies
    and one return. the more you do it the faster you get.

    but you have to carry ladders. I have a 4&6' with me, and always
    ask if I need to bring the 8'. if a supply is high on a staircase...I'm not
    risking life and limb...and if you need to scaffold up..I'm not the one.
    built enough scaffolds back in the day..

    I seal one supply grill for the homeowner to diy or hire out,
    with mastic tape from inside the house. so I carry a drill and extra screws
    in addition to the mastic tape.


    as far as the price for testing ducts..its included in the price I quote.
    rarely do I test with a blower door that I don't test
    ductwork also. almost never.
    my minimum fee is 2x your pro-rated
    fee. the more hvac systems, the larger the house, the more complex
    price goes up.
    ERLA, how do you sell audits? Sounds like in your market you (somehow) sell a more comprehensive audit and don't give them a lesser option? Love to hear how you do that. Maybe we could take this to the BS area and discuss pricing strategies. This current program is not likely to last forever and I'd like to figure out the next step.

    I've been told that in the car business convincing customers the value of thorough diagnostics is too difficult. People prefer free diagnostics and a $2000 repair to $300 diagnostics and a $50 repair.

    While getting people to pay for audits wasn't that tough (before NY made them free) I found the price of those audits had a pain threshold. From a cost/benefit perspective I'm not convinced there shouldn't be.

    I would love to do that but we are not allowed to charge the homeowner any more than the audit fee set if we accept the GJGNY audit money.
    Which makes more sense to you?
    CONSERVATION - turning your thermostat back and being uncomfortable. Maybe saving 5-10%
    ENERGY EFFICIENCY - leaving your thermostat where everyone is comfortable. Saving 30-70%

    DO THE NUMBERS! Step on a HOMESCALE.
    What is comfort? Well, it AIN'T just TEMPERATURE!

    Energy Obese? An audit is the next step - go to BPI.org, or RESNET, and find an auditor near you.

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