Home Energy Audit
Each Meacham Energy Audit includes each of the following 7 steps:
Step 1: Blower Door Test
This is a depressurization test that creates a vacuum inside your home. It depressurizes the building envelope pulling any air through any problems areas allowing you to feel exactly where your house is losing energy. As you walk through your home with the energy consultant you'll be able to feel the air coming through the leaky window and door moldings, leaky wall outlets, recessed lights, fireplaces, attic accesses and rim joists.
"Air leakage is the major cause for energy waste in homes across the United States." - McKinsey Global Institute
Step 2: Thermal Imaging Analysis
With an infrared camera we can literally see through the walls inside your home. This allows us to determine your home's insulation levels and the air flow throughout the home so you can see with your own eyes where your home is losing energy.
Step 3: Duct Leakage Inspection
Ducts that weren't installed properly or may have been damaged over the years are a major cause of energy loss for homeowners throughout the United States. Our energy consultants use state of the art equipment to test the ducts in your house and determine exactly how much energy and money you're losing due to the leaky ductwork.
"The average home wastes 25% of its energy consumption through leaky ducts." - BuildingScience.com
Step 4: Health & Safety / Indoor Air Quality Analysis
Each one of our energy auditors run tests on all of your home's combustion units and inspect all of the ventilation to ensure there are no health and safety issues with combustion appliances, ventilation for dryers, bathroom fans, etc. This allows us to see if all equipment is running at its optimum efficiency. This also allows us to determine if any appliances are releasing dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. Inadequate ventilation can also lead to allergens or mold spores in your home.
Step 5: Mold & Moisture Evaluation
Moisture build up is a common problem with homes throughout the United States. The moisture not only causes problems with energy consumption, but it can also cause health and safety problems for homeowners. Our auditors use the infrared camera to test every crevice throughout the home to determine if there are any moisture or mold problems due to inefficient ventilation or improper insulation installation.
Step 6: Window & Door Inspection
An auditor will inspect all the windows throughout your home including windows in the basement, checking for drafts, leaks, and improper mechanical condition. The auditor will determine if it is necessary and cost effective to upgrade your windows to energy efficient windows.
Step 7: Solutions Presentation
After the audit is complete, our certified energy auditor will compile all the data from your audit and customize various simple solutions for your house. All of our solutions are guaranteed to reduce your energy bills by up to 40% and have a payback period of 5 years or less. The solutions report will be printed and presented to you on the spot right after the audit.
The following chart shows where your home leaks the majority of heated and cooled air and the areas of focus for our Certified Green Technicians to air seal:
Air leakage throughout your home not only causes unwanted drafts, moisture migration, and lower indoor air quality, but it's also the #1 cause for energy waste and high energy bills for homes throughout the U.S. Air leakage occurs when the indoor air exits uncontrollably through cracks, holes and openings. It's these cracks, openings and crevices that are the leading cause of energy waste in homes across the United States.
To put this into perspective, it's reported by the EPA that if you add up all the holes, cracks and crevices in a typical single family home its equivalent to having a standard size window open all year long.
For this reason, the single most cost effective solution every homeowner can implement is air sealing. All the air leaks around the windows, doors, through the recessed lights, attic accesses, and in the attic where electricians, plumbers and HVAC contractors made holes are the major cause for high energy bills in the U.S. This is also the reason why over two-thirds of the air you pay to heat your home goes towards heating your backyard!
It's also important to note, up to 30% of the air in your home comes from your crawl space or basement. Sealing all the excessive air leaks improves the indoor air quality of your home and reduces the levels of allergens and airborne pollutants entering your living space.
During your home energy audit, your Energy auditor determines the locations of all the cracks, crevices, and holes throughout the home. The auditor takes very specific notes and works closely with the solutions teams to identify which leaks need to be sealed and where they are located.
Leaky ducts are another major cause of energy loss in homes across the U.S. The average duct system loses up to 55% of the air running through it because of all the leaky joints and elbows. During your Energy audit, the auditor uses thermal imaging to pinpoint all the leaks throughout your duct system. The auditor works closely with the solutions technicians to ensure the ducts are sealed properly.
Meacham Energy Audits uses various forms of sealants, closed-cell foam, foam board, dense packed cellulose, and duct mastic to seal all the unwanted cracks, holes and ducts that are the cause for your high energy bills and wasted energy.
Air Quality / Health & Safety
It is reported by the EPA and EnergyStar.gov that excessive air leakage and old insulation methods often causes the air inside of our homes to be more seriously polluted than the air outside of our homes.
It is also proven that indoor air pollutants cause a variety of health problems, including irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, asthma, and even eventually respiratory disease, cancer, and even heart disease. The young, the elderly, and the chronically ill, especially those suffering from respiratory or cardiovascular disease, are most susceptible to the effects of poor indoor air quality.
Gas stoves, water heaters, boilers, clothes dryers and even bathroom fans must be vented properly to decrease the amount of pollutants they emit into your home. Air sealing, duct-sealing, and moisture control all help keep pollutants out of your home.
During your Energy audit, the auditor performs several inspections and analysis to determine if there are any indoor air quality issues and develops a detailed set of solutions for resolving any issues.
Below are some of the indoor air quality, health and safety issues that exist in a typical home in the U.S.: (Source: www.epa.gov)
A living room is usually a well-used area of a home and may harbor indoor pollutants. It is important to ventilate properly, keep secondhand smoke outside of the house, and vacuum and dust regularly. Fireplaces and leaking chimneys are sources of carbon monoxide. Ventilate rooms that have fireplaces, make certain the flue damper is operational and fully open when in use, and ensure the chimney is properly sealed.
A bathroom is often the dampest area of a home. It is important to ventilate a bathroom during use and dry damp surfaces. Bathrooms are a common source of mold. Humidity from showers can cause moisture problems, which will lead to mold growth. Mold can cause allergic reactions, asthma, and other respiratory ailments. Installing and using a ventilation fan will help to control moisture and inhibit mold growth.
A Kitchen has appliances that may leak gases, and often contain chemicals for cleaning or removing pests. It is important to properly maintain and ventilate appliances, and safely store chemicals. To help prevent carbon monoxide exposure, make sure appliances such as gas stoves vent to the outside whenever possible and that all appliances are properly installed, used, and maintained.
A basement is a source of air leaks and moisture, and often contains various chemicals. It is important to ventilate, seal cracks, and properly store all chemicals. Combustion heating and cooling appliances such as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning units, gasoline-powered heaters, and other appliances are sources of carbon monoxide. Properly install, use, and maintain fuel-burning appliances. Install carbon monoxide detectors in living spaces. Basements can be damp. Install a properly sized dehumidifier to help keep your basement at an appropriate humidity level and reduce the potential for mold. It is important to dry water-damaged areas and items within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
The majority of homes throughout the United States leak enough air to fill 3-4 Goodyear blimps each hour! Although it may not seem like it, all the air leaks around the windows and around the doors, through the recessed lights and the attic access are the major cause for high energy bills. How many windows are drafty in your home? How many recessed lights do you have?
The rim joist is the area of the home that is the root of all evils when it comes to a drafty home. As hot air generated by your boiler or furnace rises up through the house and into the attic through leaks, cold outside air gets drawn in through the rim joist in your basement to replace the displaced air. This makes a home feel drafty and contributes to high energy bills. Rim joist air sealing is especially important at bump out areas such as bay windows that hang over the foundation.
Whether you call it a basement door, a bulkhead, a cellar door, or a Bilco door these are major culprits for moisture in basements, and a major contributor to the "stack effect" in your home. Is the room or floor above this entrance cold in your home?
This is an area that homeowners don't like to venture into very often. However, this area constantly ventures into your home in the form of cold air, moisture, mold, and mildew. The rim joist is leaky; the vents that were once installed as old building codes do nothing but allow warm air in during the summer causing moisture and cold air in during the winter causing discomfort and high energy bills. Do you notice what this has done to the fiberglass insulation?
Drafty Windows and Doors:
Windows and doors are inherently deficient in their R-values. A single pane of glass has an R-value of 1, wood doors have an R-value of 2.5, and insulated metal doors have R-values that range from 6-10. The real trouble with windows and doors is not the material they are made of, but how carelessly they were installed in the framed rough opening. The gaps that are left around windows and doors at installation and never properly air sealed, then covered with trim molding are the real culprits for your windows feeling "drafty."
These plumbing penetrations that weren't properly fitted in the existing wall are a perfect example of the types of holes that further exaggerate the stack effect from the rim joist in the basement below into the living space.
From the vantage point in this photo, one can look into the chimney chase and down into the house. When this cavity is heated, the air rises into the attic, turning the shaft into a chimney for the home's conditioned air.
Recessed lights are attractive additions to your home, and according to the US Census Bureau almost 300 million recessed light fixtures have been installed in American homes, but they are serious subtractions to your home's energy efficiency. The average home has the equivalent of a 2 foot-square hole in the ceiling from recessed lights that allow warm air to leak out through the attic. In dollars and cents, this leakage accounts for anywhere from one-quarter to one-third of your annual heating bill!
Attic access doors/hatches are not insulated nor are they air tight. This lack of insulation and air sealing allows heat to escape up into the attic in the winter and brings hot air into the home in the summer.
Take note of how the fiberglass around this pipe is turning grey. Insulation with dark coloration is an indication of air movement due to the dirt collected by the insulation as air passes through it. This photo also illustrates how it isn't necessarily the obvious ports of entry in the attic that can cause heat loss or heat gain throughout your home. Take note of how the fiberglass around this pipe is turning grey. Insulation with dark coloration is an indication of air
Dropped Soffits/Dropped Ceilings:
Too often, builders concentrate on air leakage through windows, doors, and walls, but ignore areas of much greater importance. Many of these key areas are hidden from view behind soffits for cabinets, bath fixtures and dropped ceilings; and are not air sealed or insulated properly.
Inadequately insulated or completely un-insulated areas of your home lead to cold rooms in winter, hot rooms in the summer, and extremely high energy bills. The easiest and most cost-effective way to insulate your home is in the attic. However, if you own an older home that has no insulation in the walls you are losing half of the heated or cooled air you produce from your mechanicals.
Air Handlers in Attics:
Would you put an air conditioner in your oven in order for it to cool off your home? Air handlers installed in attics that typically reach 140 degrees Fahrenheit put a strain on your air conditioning unit, result in higher electric bills and shorten the life of your equipment.