Reducing Residential Energy Consumption through Home Energy Audits

August 22, 2013

With the growing trend towards becoming green and the emergence of energy audits and energy scores, people are left wondering, “What does it all mean and why should I care?”  The short answer to the question is; if you care about your financial status and environmental health then you care about your energy score.

Energy Audits Defined

A home energy audit gives a home an energy score, which paints a great picture of where your home currently stands and how to reach its full energy savings potential.  But what exactly is an energy score? Unlike a blood pressure reading, it doesn’t give you a definitive measurable number.  Instead, an energy score is more like measuring how physically fit you are.  It takes into consideration a multitude of factors that are weighted on importance and produces a number used to compare your current situation with an ideal one.  The most widely used tool for this method of determining energy scores is the Energy Performance Score (EPS).  This is used to compare a home’s current score with it’s own potential as well as local and national benchmarks.

(above) Section of a home energy audit that shows where the home measures on an energy & carbon comparison.

The Residential Home Energy Audit

A physical home inspection is necessary to get an accurate score.  Below are a few major areas the inspector will look at during an audit and how they impact energy efficiency:

Home Insulation:  By ensuring the right type and amount of insulation in a home, and most importantly the attic, a significant improvement to the energy retention of a home be seen. This is an example of a recommendation you may see:

(above) Example of a home insulation section of an energy audit

Leakiness of the House: Two main areas within a house that leak air are the spaces around doors and windows and the air duct system. The less a house breathes the more efficient it is since air isn’t lost that was previously warmed or cooled.

HVAC system:  The number 1 energy consumption device in a home is the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) device.  Older traditional furnaces were 80% efficient.  Meaning, 80% of the heat associated with running the furnace went into the home and 20% was lost to the heating process.  Now, all furnaces are 95% efficient and above.  Simply switching out older furnace to a new model can positively impact efficiency.

Light Bulbs:  A quick look at the light bulbs used within the house will illuminate energy efficiency.  Older incandescent bulbs consume over 25% more energy than LED bulbs.  By replacing older bulbs with LED lights there will be significant energy savings over the average 17-year lifespan of an LED.

The inspector will then compile all the information from his audit and produce a report analyzing where a home currently stands and compares it to the future potential.