Featured in the Washington Blade, March 2, 2012 issue, page 68 and 69.

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By TROY TANNER, CR, GCP The Home Energy Detective, Inc.


So, you have a room in your house that you just can't keep warm. Sound familiar? Maybe your energy bills are too high. In the summer the top floor is just too darn hot and you are more comfortable on the lowest level of the home.

How do you solve these common issues? Certainly you can call a window company. They say you will be more comfortable and save energy all at the same time by replacing your windows. Or why don't you call the local air conditioning company. If you replace the air conditioning system you will feel more comfortable and save more money, right? Oh, I know, just add some insulation, that'll do the trick.

Having been in the home energy auditing and building science arena for the last five years, I've heard it all. Install this or that and it will save 30 percent; install that or this and it will save you 50 percent on your energy bills.

There's an old saying that, "When You are a hammer everything looks like a nail." Basically what I have for you will fix all your ills.

Discover what is best for you with a home energy audit.

In the Washington, Northern Virginia and Maryland areas there are professional organizations that perform home energy audits. Most of these firms are what you would call solutions-based organizations. In other words, they find out scientifically what are the underlying issues in your home to cause the home to be uncomfortable and be an energy hog. They provide you with a comprehensive report and recommended repairs for your particular home. The goal of the audit is to give you a road map to follow so you don't make a decision to spend money on a product or service that does not give you the very best results for your money.

So what is an energy audit and how does it work?

In an overall description, it goes like this. A quick interview is conducted with you to find out what the issues are with the home. If you have a gas furnace or gas water heater a combustion appliance zone test will be performed. This is very important and specialized equipment is used for this. After the appliance test is completed, a measurement of the home is done for later calculations.The auditor will then prepare the home for a blower door test. This test will help determine how leaky the home is. This is when they will use an infrared camera and smoke puffers to find the hidden comfort issues and energy losses. After they conduct the blower door test they will take readings from the equipment and produce a report for you.

Not all energy auditors are created equal.

As with any specialty there are different levels of competency, so how do you choose an auditing firm?

Look for credentials. There are BPI (Building Performance Institute) Credentials.

A BPI accredited organization has reached the highest level. The organization has been thoroughly investigated and has proper insurance, customer resolution practices, procedures for quality control and the company is audited at least once a year to ensure that they are upholding the highest standards.

The company must have on staff a BPI Building Analyst Professional as well as a BPI Envelope Professional.

The other credentials you want to look for are RESNET professionals.

BPI and RESNET are the most commonly known organizations that provide the proper training required to perform professional Home Energy Audits.

Did you know there is money available to offset the costs of audits and repairs to the home?

In Maryland, PEPCO and other energy providers have money set aside for residents. Washington has DCSEU programs that will help homeowners improve their homes.

In Virginia it's a little tougher. Virginia's LEAP Program has just taken over the Northern Virginia Home Performance with Energy Star program and the county of Arlington has funds for homeowners. The other counties at this time do not have programs in place.

Discover the facts.

The Home Energy Detective is a BPI-accredited and licensed contractor providing home energy efficiency services for Virginia, Maryland, District of Columbia and the surrounding region. We specialize in expert home energy efficiency audits, reducing home energy bills and expenses and your improving home energy efficiency. Visit us online at homeenergydetective.com or callus today at 866-933-2590 for a free phone consultation. VA Contractor License #2705 114656 A.