Home energy auditors use tools that measure pressure and leakage from homes and their energy systems. Aside from traditional contracting tools, auditors make use of blower doors, manometers, infrared cameras, combustion analyzers, gas sniffers, and smoke pencils/machines.
The Blower Door
The blower door is the loudest and largest weapon in the energy auditor’s arsenal. It’s name is a great description of what it does. A metal frame fits in a family’s doorway. This frame is connected to an airtight seal that covers the entire door area, except for a small hole. Within that hole sits a fan that blows air into the house.
The purpose of the blower door is to increase the air pressure in the home until it’s higher than the pressure outside. The difference between the two is determined by using a device called a manometer. A manometer measures air pressure, and compares relative pressures. Air always moves towards lower pressure, so when the pressure inside is higher than the pressure outside, air will leak out of the house.
A home with better insulation, tighter seals, and fewer leaks can easily achieve and maintain a high pressure. Energy auditors determine how airtight a home is by measuring the air that has to be fanned in before a high pressure is reached. If a lot of air needs to be added, then that means that there are many places where air is escaping. If high pressure is achieved easily, than the house is well sealed and insulated.
The Infrared Camera
Most homes, especially older ones, won’t “pass” the blower door test. Poor sealing, cracks, and cheap (or nonexistent) insulation will cause air to leak out of the house. The next step is to find out where this leakage is occurring.
To do that, energy auditors use an infrared camera. Like the blower door, the infrared camera is aptly named. It is a camera, and viewing device, that detects infrared light. Energy auditors can use this device to find out where air is entering or leaving the building. They can then take a photograph of that problem area and report it to the contractors who will be fixing these problems.
The Smoke Pencil
Sometimes, auditors will also use a smoke pencil to find leaky areas. These devices admit smoke, which then escape through cracks and poorly sealed doors and windows. This time, the auditor can use his own eyes to see where problem areas lie.
A smoke pencil, or smoke machine, is also useful in determining the energy efficiency of furnaces and water heaters. Water heaters and furnaces are similar to a whole home, in that they are more efficient when they are sealed. Smoke machines help auditors determine whether these appliances have leaks or cracks.
The Combustible Gas Sniffer
Another device used for helping find leaks is a combustible gas sniffer. Keep in mind that families don’t spend money on heat, they spend money on the gas used to create the heat. When gas escapes from leaky valves, money escapes from families’ budgets. A gas sniffer detects whether gas is escaping from a furnace or water heater.
The Manometer and CAZ Analysis
As stated above, a manometer is an essential tool in determining how airtight a house is. It is also useful in measuring the efficiency of furnaces and water heaters. Furnaces and water heaters reside in what auditors refer to as the CAZ, or combustion appliance zone.
Auditors use a manometer to create a “worst case scenario” for the CAZ. First, they turn a home’s air handler and exhaust fans. Using a manometer, they then find which parts of the home are pressurized, and which are de-pressurized. Doors to de-pressurized doors are left open, while doors to pressurized rooms are closed.
This creates a de-pressurized environment, making it hard for the CAZ to do its work. By measuring the pressure in the CAZ’s exhaust during this worst-case scenario, auditors can determine if improvements must be made on the CAZ.
The Combustion Gas Analyzer
Another helpful tool in analyzing the CAZ is a combustion analyzer. These tools are used to measure temperature and CO emissions, among other things. When the CAZ is at full operation, the combustion analyzer’s sensor is placed in the smallest unit in the CAZ. After this unit is turned on, the analyzer determines when a stable temperature has been reached. At this point, carbon monoxide levels are measured. If these levels are too high, then work must be done on that unit in order to increase efficiency.
These state-of-the-art tools help WellHome inspectors verify that a home’s energy usage is at peak performance. BPI certification guarantees that they have the know-how to use these tools in a proficient manner. It also means that they have the intelligence to ensure that your home improvement project is successful.
Sometimes, fancy gadgets aren’t enough. Often, a home energy audit requires the use of more basic tools. Tape measures are used to determine the square footage of rooms, floors, and the entire house. In order to compare square footage to air pressure, complex math and reasoning skills are required. WellHome auditors have been rigorously tested to ensure that they have the smarts to get the job done. Families demand it. BPI certification verifies it.
WellHome Inspectors: Experts at Using State-of-the-art Auditing Equipment
21st century tools are needed for 21st century energy solutions. The Homestar Program will provide tax rebates to energy efficient homes, but new equipment is necessary to verify a home’s efficiency. WellHome inspectors are highly proficient with this equipment. Furthermore, they are able to verify that a home’s efficiency has increased, allowing for these rebates to go through.
When you want to retrofit your house, you want the best technology and know-how. WellHome inspectors have that. It’s certified. They have the confidence that comes with the best equipment and experience. You can have the confidence of knowing that you’ve picked the best in the business. It’s your home. It’s your budget. With your family and pocketbook on the line, and BPI certification in their pocket, WellHome is the right choice for your home energy future.