How energy-efficient is your home?

Do you know?

It can be easy to find out! First of all, your power company, such as Progress Energy, might have a free program in progress. They will inspect your home and provide you with a list of improvement recommendations. Please be aware that the free energy audits you receive from the power companies are not a thorough inspection. You can get a complete one from an professional energy rater. They will do a smoke test, blower door and other techniques that can better assess the condition of the home. While an energy rater is a comprehensive test and the best way to assess your home, it can be expensive at $300-$600.

Another alternative is a Do-It-Yourself energy audit. You can find these at: Energy Star – energy yardstick, Home Energy Saver US Department of Energy – Consumer’s Guide

For more information about Home Energy Audits visit: EnergyStar.gov and US Department of Energy.

Can an existing home get an Energy Star?

Perhaps a few years ago an older home could have received an Energy Star rating or a Green certification after increasing the attic insulation and changing to double pane windows, among other changes; however, the requirements are much stricter since. The single thing that makes this unlikely is a procedure called “Thermal Bypass.” This specific step requires the inspection of the walls before the drywall goes up. Hence, this can only happen during its construction period. Unless a consumer is doing a major remodeling that will allow this Thermal Bypass to take place, an existing home will not be able to receive a Green certification or ENERGY STAR rating.

From ENERGYSTAR.gov: Any home, new or existing, that can be field verified to meet all EPA requirements for ENERGY STAR Qualified Homes can earn the label. Given that the verification process entails inspecting insulation and air barrier assemblies as part of the Thermal Bypass Checklist (TBC), it is unlikely existing homes will be able to qualify unless they are part of a gut rehab project exposing all insulated framing assemblies.

Perhaps in the future they may accept the use of an infrared camera diagnostic in lieu of a TBC visual inspection.

Whether a home receives a certification/rating or not, the most important thing here is our wellbeing and the environment. After all, it is our future and the children’s future. With the water and fuel issues we are currently facing, and will continue to face, we should do our part to ensure quality water and affordable energy in the years to come. By taking the necessary steps to make your home and lifestyle greener we can provide a healthier environment within the home and save on utility bills, as well as diminish the pollution that is affecting our environment. Improve the air quality within your home by sealing the ducts and the house, tint your windows to help block the sun from entering your home and decrease the energy used to cool it, increase the attic insulation to keep the house cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

We only have one life to live on one earth. Let’s make the best of it. UpGreen!