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Get the Facts About Blower Door Testing and Home Energy Audits
Home energy audits and blower door tests are good ways for a homeowner to get an accurate assessment about the energy usage in the household. The results from these procedures can give homeowners valuable information that can be used to make a home more energy efficient and ultimately, help homeowners save money.
Home energy audits
Since these audits are not done frequently, many homeowners are not sure of what to expect when the auditor arrives. A good home energy audit will focus on two areas: locating deficiencies in the home that cause energy to escape and an analysis of the home’s environmental conditions.
Be Prepared to Answer Questions
During an energy audit, the auditor will be asking questions that will need to be answered. Be prepared to talk about how many people live in the home and the times during the day people are in the dwelling, and how each room is used. The auditor will also want to know what temperature the thermostat is set to during both the summer and winter months.
The inspection process
The auditor will do a complete observation of the inside and outside of the house. The auditor will be looking specifically at any holes in the exterior walls; weatherstripping; the heating and cooling systems; exhaust vents; windows; attic ventilation; and insulation. The auditor will also want to take measurements and record the ambient temperature of every room in the home. Other statistics the auditor will want to record include humidity, dew point, and temperature differentials between HVAC return and AC/heat supply registers.
As part of the overall home energy audit, the auditor will perform a thermographic inspection of the home. During this inspection a scan is made of the interior of the home to find air leaks that indicate insufficient insulation.
What is done with the data?
Once the home is inspected and the data has been recorded, the auditor will analyze it and put together report that will state which areas need to be improved. The auditor should also be able to recommend the proper course of action so homeowners know exactly what needs to be done.
Blower door test
This is one of the standard tests of an energy audit. Its purpose is to determine a home’s airtight-ness. In this test a large fan pulls air out of the house and lowers the air pressure inside. The test determines the air infiltration rate of the home. According to the government energy website, there are four main reasons why having an airtight home is optimal for a homeowner:
- A minimum number of air leaks results in more energy efficiency
- It helps to avoid moisture condensation problems
- It reduces uncomfortable drafts
- It determines how much mechanical ventilation is needed for acceptable indoor air quality
How a blower door test works
A blower door test necessitates the use of a large fan that is mounted to the frame of an exterior door to the house. The fan removes the air from inside the house causing the air pressure inside the home to be lowered. This process causes the outside air with higher pressure to come into the house through any unsealed cracks and other openings, providing an air filtration rate.
Preparing for a blower door test
In order to prepare for a blower door test, the following steps should be taken:
Wood heated homes should have all fires completely extinguished and all ashes should be removed before the auditor arrives
Close all windows
Close all exterior doors
Close all interior doors
Disable all heaters and non-electric water heaters
Shut dampers and close fireplace doors
Turn off the clothes dryer and exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathrooms
Fill plumbing traps if they are dry
Do not seal combustion flues or dryer vents
During the blower door test
When the auditor is performing the test, be an active participant in the process.
Walk through the home with the auditor and point out any areas that are drafty or otherwise difficult to temperature control.
Be prepared to allow the auditor to access closets, cabinet, attics, crawl spaces, and any other rooms the auditor deems necessary to inspect.
The test will take about an hour; make sure you have set aside an adequate amount of time to allow the job to be completed properly.
Home energy audits and blower door tests are procedures that every homeowner should consider. They provide invaluable information that will assist homeowners in determining the steps they need to take in order to make their homes more comfortable, better for the environment, and provide a cost savings as well.
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