All About Energy
Since that time, I have immersed myself into learning about energy and its consumption. I have studied heating, ventilation and air conditioning, insulation science, ground source heat pump technology, green home design, building science, infrared thermography, solar power and alternative energy.
In addition, I am on the faculty for the Sustainable Building Advisor program being held in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
Each step of the way, I have tried the technologies, learning what works and what does not. Now, I use what I have learned to help homeowners and contractors. The first step is home energy analysis - studying utility bills, home construction and consumption patterns to understand and reduce bills. (note: I no longer provide this service. Please see the other trusted home energy professionals listed on the home page)
Next is a whole home analysis. Through infrared inspection, blower door testing, and an in-depth home inspection, a home energy consultant will help you create the most energy efficient, comfortable and safe living environment for your family. To keep things practical, they focus on simple, cost effective solutions. Should you desire to take your renovations to the next level, they can guide you through this daunting process as well.
In working with my you, the energy consultant goal is to first go after the 'low hanging fruit', addressing the simple issues that most effect the comfort and efficiency of your home. This way, we can make substantial improvements at the lowest cost. Once the inexpensive, easy issues are resolved, we move on to larger scale solutions if you desire.
For more information, please read my blog.
A Note About Certifications
There is much confusion regarding exactly what it means to be a "certified" home energy auditor. There are a number of organizations jumping on the "green" bandwagon. Some provide decent training, others simply charge a fee and give you a certificate.
Because of this, you will find a broad range of companies selling energy audits. The worst are the "checklist" audits. If you want an energy audit at this level, save the money and do your own, free of charge, through a website. See also the excellent U.S. Department of Energy website.
There are some organizations that do provide valid certifications based on relatively rigorous training programs. For example,ResNet trains home energy raters for performing HERS ratings, which are required for getting a home EnergyStar certified. I have successfully completed this training. The course is a full 40 hour training program covering aspects of building science, thermodynamics, and HVAC systems at a level of detail not possible in a single day seminar. Note however that I am NOT a HERS rater. The program itself is poorly conceived for independent consultant like me, forcing raters to lose money on jobs.
The most comprehensive program offered is the National Sustainable Building Advisor Program. This program trains professionals in a broad range of sustainable building practices. Graduates of the program are able to evaluate your needs from site, to foundation, from geothermal heating to low toxicity paints. Currently, I am on the faculty of the SBA program in Bucks County, Pennsylvania and a board member of the national program.
In addition, there is the Building Performance Institute. Like ResNet, the BPI endorses in-depth training and testing of energy inspectors. They have also set standards for home energy analysis and remediation, which I endorse for use to ensure consistent high quality. However, like ResNet, the BPI programs are set up for contractors who make money on the renovations/equipment they sell you. The true costs of the audit get added onto their service costs.
My advice is to get to know your home energy consultant. You will quickly learn the value of working with a person who focuses exclusively on green building and energy efficiency issues. Request samples of their reports and talk to references. Your energy auditor will become your ally through your home renovation projects, helping you prioritize projects and avoid pitfalls common in renovations.