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Home energy audits

KALLIE VAUGHAN

A home energy audit is an inexpensive way to identify money saving improvements that will reduce your monthly energy bills. To pinpoint areas where you can increase efficiency you should consider contacting a professional home energy auditor. Beyond simply identifying the sources of energy use, an energy audit seeks to prioritize the energy uses according to the greatest to least cost effective opportunities for energy savings.

An energy audit of a home may involve recording various characteristics of the building envelope including the walls, ceilings, floors, doors, windows, and skylights. For each of these components the area and resistance to heat flow (R-value) is measured or estimated. The leakage rate or infiltration of air through the building envelope is strongly affected by window construction and quality of door seals such as weather-stripping. The goal of this exercise is to quantify the building’s overall thermal performance. The audit may also assess the efficiency, physical condition, and programming of mechanical systems such as the heating, ventilation, air conditioning equipment, and thermostat.

On a recent audit Jon Kinstad of High Country Conservation helped Kay Beaton and Kirk Johnston with their home energy concerns. HCCC is currently offering Audits throughout the county for reasonable rates.

During the audit Kay and Kirk followed along asking questions and expressing concerns. Kirk is a builder who implements Green Built, ENERGY STAR and LEED ratings into much of his work, but since he did not build his own home it was great for him to find ways to improve personal energy use. He seemed to agree that the suggestions were attainable while making his wife very happy.

Jon showed extensive knowledge of building science as he examined the perimeter of the home, performed a blower door test and scanned the entire interior of the home with an infrared camera to locate areas of concern. The home has a huge Northwest facing window, but it was not the intention of the audit to criticize things that could not be fixed, not to mention the view is amazing. The goal is to provide cost effective suggestions to lower energy bills by getting a “whole-house” perspective.

In the end Kay and Kirk found that their home is relatively efficient, so there is not much room for improvement. They did find that with a little persuading of the home owners association they are perfect candidates for solar thermal panels that will complement what Jon called their “BMW of boilers”. This is high on Kay’s wish list.

Some common recommendations for Energy Audits include the following:

– Sealing air leaks and adding insulation

– Sealing Ductwork

– Upgrading Lighting and appliances

– Improving your heating systems

For information on Home Energy Audits, please contact Kallie Vaughan with Re/Max Properties of the Summit , 305 Main St. , Frisco. Call her at (970) 903-4305 or email kallievaughan@yahoo.com. Kallie is a Realtor and holds a degree in environmental biology. It is her goal to bring attention to Green Real Estate Practices in Summit County .


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