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Not just another home inspector. Who should you hire for your Home Energy Audit?

Updated: Apr 4

When asked what I do for a living I'm guilty of answering with a simple, "home inspections". While accurate because I do home inspections that isn' the whole story. Let me shed a little light on not only what I do but what you should consider looking for when considering a home energy audit or "Home Performance Inspection".


The term "Energy Audit", can mean a number of things which is why it's important to have a conversation about your needs. Are you truly looking at energy savings or are you having serious issues with your home that you want to ge to the root cause of? Issues range from high utility bills to any number of serious issues.


Most consumers only ask what tests are included in an energy audit.  Contractors of different types have caught onto this and have gone out and purchased some of their own equipment to claim they do energy audits. 


So, the real questions should be, “Are you qualified and certified to do home performance inspections (energy audits)?  Also, do they know or understand what a home performance audit is, and is the person you talk to going to perform the inspection or someone else without the credential?


Here are a couple of certifications to look for when seeking someone out to do your home performance energy audit and what it means customers are getting when they hire someone with credentials.


A HERS rater.  What does it mean to hire a RESNET certified HERS rater?


"HERS rater" stands for Home Energy Rating System Rater


RESNET is a recognized national standards-making body for building energy efficiency rating and certification systems in the United States that among other things maintains national training, certification and quality assurance standards for Home Energy Raters.

A HERs rater is an individual who is also certified by an accredited independent 3rd party Rating Provider which oversees and QC’s the HERS raters work according to RESNET standards, and ensures the rater inspects and tests homes according to the standards for a Home Energy Rating according to the RESNET Standards.


The following is not a complete list but lists most of what a HERS rater is and does.  Additional Individual training and certifications may also differ.

The HERS rater:

·         Has passed a series of proctored tests with passing scores determined by RESNET

·         Completes at least 18 hours of continuing education that has been approved by RESNET

·         Understands building performance evaluation, as well as energy improvement interactions

·         Considers the "house-as-a-system", and how changes interact with each improvement and other parts of the home

·         Health and Safety in the home such as indoor air quality issues and how they should be addressed

·         Trained to identify and test for issues such as condensation, leaks through building components, signs of mold or mildew, insect damage, efflorescence and stains

·         Trained to identify potential combustion appliance safety hazards such as backdrafting and CO

·         Is fluent in building science concepts such as the transfer of heat and nuetral pressure planes

·         Also fluent in identifying areas of envelope leakage, thermal bypasses, and      thermal bridging

·         Can define the home’s thermal boundary and make appropriate recommendations for changing the thermal boundary

·         Trained to test, identify, and recommend improvements to things such as building components, insulation, HVAC Systems, domestic Hot Water Systems, Air Leakage, and more

·         Test for excessive HVAC duct Leakage and static pressure drops

·         Test and suggest appropriate ventilation systems and strategies

·         Analyze potential improvements to appliances and lighting

 

A BPI certified BA-P (Building Analyst Professional), BA-T (Building Analyst technician)


The BPI Building Analyst Professional (BA-P) is an advanced certification for home performance professionals. They conduct energy modeling, building analysis, and data evaluation in order to provide a comprehensive report with a list of prioritized home performance recommendations. Their scope also includes the BA-T certification which incorporates data collection, diagnostic testing for a whole-home assessments and includes knowledge of buildings & their systems, testing & data collection, and industry standards.

The (BA-P) is familiar with building science principles and can demonstrate how various components of a home interact, affecting the home as a system’s overall performance.

The (BA-P) also understands the relationships between the building envelope, heating, A/C, insulation, mechanical ventilation, lighting, appliances and other systems of the home. They will be able to enable you to assist yourself and others, teach how these systems affect the comfort, health and safety of occupants and durability of the home, as well as help you discover why improving the energy efficiency of the home should be the first step toward solar, geothermal, or other renewable energy improvements.


Some of the Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities required for the BPI Building Analyst Professional (BA-P/ BA-T) certifications:

·         Has passed a series of proctored, video recorded, written and mentored tests with passing scores determined by BPI

·         Accumulates 30 whole-house building science related CEUs AND submits application for re-certification every 3 years

·         Evaluates Combustion Safety Testing Data and makes recommendations

·         Evaluates Blower Door Test Data and prioritizes envelope and duct system air sealing opportunities

·         Evaluates Mechanical Ventilation Data and makes suggestions based on ventilation standards for acceptable indoor air quality

·         Evaluates HVAC Distribution Systems Data and tests duct leakage, airflow, pressure drop, heat rise, pressure matching

·         Evaluates Fenestration Data and identifies opportunities for upgrades

·         Evaluates Thermal / Pressure Boundaries and determines methods and materials for sealing and insulating specific locations like crawlspaces, basements, attached garages, attics, conditioned/unconditioned areas, and other areas of the building

·         Calculates baseload, combustion analysis, and determines heating loads, cooling loads, and baseloads through utility bill analysis

·         Evaluates Health and Safety Data such as the need to address occupant-controllable pollutants in the home

·         Evaluates Water Conservation Data and assess opportunities for water conservation devices

·         Evaluates Construction Details and determines structural deficiencies and needed repairs of any building components to be addressed in the work scope

·         Modeles and creates a scope of work with energy modeling software, can calculate the payback period and savings to investment ratio (SIR) for potential measures and evaluates financial calculations for potential measures that should be incorporated into the scope despite what the SIR or payback period would otherwise dictate

 

So what do you think? Just another home inspector or someone who can help you make the right choices for your home, your comfort, and your budget based off of experience, testing and science rather than just someones opinion.

I hope this helps explain a bit more in detail what I do and helps you make a more informed decision on who to entrust your home energy or home performance audit to.   



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