E3 and other energy audits are nothing new, but with the recent push to “go green” these audits are newly discovered. Many home owners may not be aware of the unique state their home will be in during an energy test. Although each home is different there are a few basic steps that every home owner needs to take before the energy expert arrives.
First of all, plan on blocking out at least 3 hours for your energy audit. It will take the E3 expert time to set-up and dismantle the equipment, plus the time spent thoroughly inspecting your home. It’s also a good a idea to have as many members of the household present as possible when the test is performed. The E3 expert will collect basic information about the home, ask about specific problem areas, and visually demonstrate potential fixes to everyone present.
Of all the equipment used during E3 the blower door requires the most preparation for the expert and home owner alike. As discussed in previous blogs the blower door pushes air out of the home causing a negative pressure in the home, or a vacuum. The purpose of this vacuum is to highlight leaks so they may be identified and corrected. There are a few minor side effects to note regarding this vacuum. First, conditioned air will be pulled from the home. This ,combined with the fact that furnaces (and all other gas appliances) must be turned off during the test, will make for a chilly home in winter.
Here are a few other steps to take before, during, and after an E3 visit:
1. Fireplace dampers should be closed and all ashes should be removed. The blower door will cause these ashes to fly around the home.
2. All windows and doors to the outside must be closed. All interior doors (doors between conditioned spaces) need to be left open, this includes the basement door if the basement is heated or cooled.
3. Make all rooms (basements, attics, crawlspaces) and heating and cooling equipment accessible. Also, if possible make sure that all registers are at least available for visual inspection.
4. Do your homework! Have a list of drafty rooms, broken windows, and other potential energy problems ready for the E3 expert. This will help everyone focus on the big picture. It also helps to have a years worth of utility bills on hand to analyze when your energy efficiency is at it’s best and worst.
5. Remind the E3 expert to turn your gas appliances back on! Theses items need to be off during the audit to prevent the back-drafting of dangerous fumes.
Taking the time to prepare your home for E3 will result in a thorough test and a better understanding of energy efficiency.