Consider an Energy Audit to Evaluate Your Building’s Envelope
When you talk about your building’s envelope, you’re referring to how airtight the structure is and its energy efficiency. A tight envelope prevents air and energy loss, improves the function and efficiency of HVAC equipment, and reduces the amount you pay each month for heating, cooling, and energy. When you evaluate your building’s envelope with an energy audit, you will obtain important information on where the seal can be improved to make the structure even more energy efficient and economical to operate. Here is a brief introduction to energy audits and how use one to evaluate your building’s envelope and improve its energy efficiency.
Benefits of a Tight Building Envelope
A building with a tight envelope has fewer areas where air and energy can escape, reducing the waste of both energy and money. Cracks, gaps, holes, and openings where air leaks can occur are closed off and thoroughly sealed. Insulation levels are increased to prevent the loss of heat in the winter and the infiltration of heat in the summer.
Heat gain is reduced by the use of window treatments, specialized glass, curtains, awnings, or similar solutions. A building with a tight envelope costs less to heat and cool. The effectiveness and efficiency of the HVAC system is increased, allowing the system to provide high levels of indoor comfort at a lower cost. HVAC equipment doesn’t have to work as hard to produce heating and cooling, which reduces wear that could cause breakdowns or shorten system life.
Using an Energy Audit to Evaluate Your Building’s Envelope
An energy audit is a sophisticated technical procedure that reveals locations of energy loss, inadequate insulation, and other structural faults that can decrease your building’s energy efficiency. An energy audit is particularly good at locating weaknesses in your building’s envelope, clearly identifying spots where air loss and energy leaks are occurring.
Once an energy audit has been conducted, you’ll know where to focus your efforts to improve your building’s envelope and overall energy efficiency. You’ll have a visual representation of where energy is being lost, conditioned air is flowing away unused, and heat is entering or exiting your building. If you want to have an energy audit done to evaluate your building’s envelope, be sure to hire a qualified and certified auditor.
Credentials or endorsements from organizations such as the Building Performance Institute or RESNET indicate competency and professionalism and ensure your audit will be conducted by a knowledgeable expert. Techniques of an Energy Audit A thorough energy audit will consist of several different tests and techniques, all of which are designed to evaluate your building’s envelope, it’s energy efficiency, and its shortcomings.
- Visual inspection: The auditor should conduct a thorough visual inspection of your building to assess it’s physical and thermal characteristics. This should include careful checks of doors, windows, basements, foundations, attics, and individual rooms.
- Surface thermometer readings: Surface thermometers can show where the surface of internal and external walls are warmer or cooler than expected. This is a good technique for finding areas where inner-wall insulation needs to be increased.
- Infiltrometer test: Also known as a blower door test, this technique uses a fan mounted in an external door to pull air out of your building and lower indoor pressure. When this occurs, outside air enters through cracks, gaps, holes, and other areas that are otherwise impossible to see. Your evaluator can use a smoke pencil or other device to locate air leaks that need to be sealed.
- Thermographic scanning: Thermographic tests use infrared cameras to locate areas of heat loss. These imaging devices show patterns and areas of heat loss that are invisible to human vision or standard cameras.
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