Home Energy Audit

Okay, first off, I’m not even sure I have the right to be posting here since I’ve been decidedly absent for what seems like years, but is probably only a few months. I’m sorry, okay? I’m just so extremely busy with so many very, very important things. Waking up, eating, looking at the baby, eating some more, sleeping. It’s all very time consuming you see, so don’t give me any guff! Yep, that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Now, to the matter at hand: home energy audits. I had a professional expert in home energy efficiency come out yesterday and run a battery of tests on our home to find out just how lacking in efficiency it was. Man, was it fascinating! And man, is our house inefficient! Not anymore than an average California home, actually, but that’s not saying much. It turns out that we are losing 44% of the air that is pumping out of our air conditioning system due to leaks, messy duct work, and a few other factors. That obviously leads to a unit that is working way too hard and way too long to get our house temperature down to a reasonable comfort level. The other thing I learned is that the key to getting a house really efficient is creating an almost balloon-like or cave-like shell or “envelope” to create a zero pressure difference between outside and inside. This is the ideal. This is the goal.

The most amazing test came when the guy took out an infrared camera device with an LCD screen (see pic above). It was straight out of Star Trek, and the imagery was straight out of Predator. The pic above is one I took of the device capturing its x-ray like video of our ceiling. Note the dark skeletal “bones” which are actually the joists in the attic forming our ceiling structure. Really cool and kind of eery I thought. He pointed this device at all our walls and ceiling to get the thermal values that they were retaining and to view if there was insulation inside. There was, in fact, zero insulation (it was built in the 20’s when we were all even bigger idiots or perhaps just not as pussy-ish as we are now) between the studs, and therefore the gaps were holding and storing the sun’s heat like a convection oven. You can see the brightness of these gaps in the picture, meaning that area is a hotpsot. The temperature of the east facing wall was 95º!! The ceiling? Wait for it… wait for it…. 105º in its hottest spot!!! So no wonder the compressor on our air conditioner worked so hard that it shut down as our coils became embedded inside a big ice block that formed around them last year. The following link provides a glossary of terms relating to this whole efficient home world.

Hi, I’m a link!

The next step for us is to determine which things we want to do -and are willing to pay for- to get us as close to being a zero energy house as possible. Here’s the definition as it can be found on the above link…

Zero Energy House – This is any house that averages out to net zero energy consumption. A zero energy home can supply more energy than it needs during peak demand, typically using one or more solar energy strategies, energy storage and/or net metering. In a zero energy home, a tight building envelope and efficient HVAC systems, appliances and lighting all significantly contribute to less demand for energy.

If any of you out here are interested in having this audit done, I can get you the information. It wasn’t cheap, but I thought it was well worth it when you consider the egregious energy prices that will be coming our way. California just passed a bill allowing utility companies to go as high as .99 per kilowatt hour. This is over a three fold rate increase over our last DWP bill. Insane.

* I even had him point the thermal reader at me just to check if I’m 98.7º. I was a little cooler. Temperature wise, that is. Just temperature wise.

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