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Mission of the York Energy Efficiency Committee

Our mission is to respond to the global warming crisis by promoting energy efficiency, alternative energy, and environmental initiatives throughout the town of York, Maine.
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[Source: The US Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)]

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Energy Audits: What Homeowners Need to Know

Since energy audits are required as part of the new PACE loans (as well as some other tax incentives), it is important that home owners understand what an energy audit can do for them.  Most people understand that finding ways to heat and cool their homes more efficiently can lower heating and cooling bills, reduce carbon footprint, and make the home more comfortable.

The following article in Mother Earth News explains how an energy audit can help people determine which home energy improvements are likely to save the most amount of money and energy. “An energy audit can help you decide which projects should be your highest priority, and which ones you might not want to do at all.” The author consulted with a home energy rater, Ken Riead of Hathmore Technologies, LLC in Independence, Mo. Riead does energy audits and has trained other energy auditors and energy raters.

So who should have an energy audit?

Everyone. In fact, new houses typically aren’t as well constructed as the older houses. They can leak more air, causing health and comfort problems, and the quality of the wood and other building components can be poor. Insulation is often very sloppily installed and, in many cases, missing entirely. Most homeowners aren’t knowledgeable about how to look for these problems and how to properly correct them if they find them. Actually, the same problems found in single family homes also occur in duplexes, townhomes, condominiums, apartments and other forms of residences.

Efficiency Maine keeps a list of what they call “participating energy advisors,” who can “assess your home for energy-efficiency improvements, help you determine if you qualify for incentives, and get you started. These building professionals are BPI-certified and insured.”

What kind of tests can an energy auditor do at your home?

Other than the basic arsenal of tools that energy auditors carry, such as a flashlight, clipboard and camera, the most commonly used testing device is a blower door. A blower door is a calibrated fan mounted inside an expandable cloth and frame that can be placed into a door opening and used to pressurize and/or depressurize a building (see Image Gallery for photos). The energy auditor can either determine manually, or by using a computer, the total amount of air that is entering or leaving a building in relationship to the amount of air pressure being applied by the door. This total amount of air that is moving from inside to outside the building indicates the total number of air leaks, cracks, gaps and missing or defective dampers in the building’s shell or envelope. A blower door can help determine the average air changes per hour, or ACH, of a home. The blower door can also be left running in the “cruise” mode so that the auditor can locate the air leaks using his/her hand, a smoke stick or other device.

…More advanced energy audits also involve the use of an infrared (IR) camera, also known as a thermal imaging camera. IR cameras can “see” behind walls if there is a sizable temperature difference between the inside air and the outside ambient air. They can determine if there is missing insulation, significant air leakage areas and can even locate water leaks and moisture behind solid surfaces. This feature is especially helpful in locating water sources that might be contributing to mold, mildew and other fungus growth. The combination of a blower door and IR camera makes it possible to detect problems that otherwise could have gone unnoticed for long periods of time, perhaps not becoming evident until there was serious damage to the structure or significant mold growth.

Read the rest of the Mother Earth News article and learn more about PACE energy efficiency loans at http://www.efficiencymaine.com/pace.

 

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