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DIY Energy Audits

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

It's been really chilly lately and energy audits have been on my mind. Energy audits are pretty simple to complete yourself so I thought I'd post some resources. 


Doing your own basic energy audit is not too hard, but if you do decide to hire a pro, I'd check around first see if you can get a free energy audit. Many local utility companies will come to your home and perform a free basic inspection or consultation. You may also qualify for a Weatherization Assistance Program – which provides low cost (to FREE) energy savings for families.

After looking into free programs check with a reputable source to hire a professional. Two good places to look include RESNET and ENERGY STAR.

post #2 of 9
The past few days İ saw an article about a new company specializing in training for 'green' jobs by the name of CleanEdison. The company is owned by a Wall Street type who gushes about the possibilities.

İn looking at the company web site İ saw every buzz word in the green lexicon and one to three day courses for all. Specialist courses to bring one fully up you speed.  For example

Thermography 4 day course schedule - all for only 1,750 USD 

DAY 1

  • Introduction
  • Infrared Thermography Applications Overview
  • Basic Camera Setup and Operation

DAY 2

  • Basic IR camera user interface, menu description and navigation, operational tips and tricks and key elements to getting a good IR image.
  • Thermal Science Fundamentals
  • Heat Transfer
  • Fundamentals of Infrared Science

DAY 3

  • Thermal Measurement
  • Electrical Applications
  • Thermography Safety

DAY 4

  • Mechanical Applications
  • Building Applications
  • Review
  • Final Exam
İ consider this a big waste of money and most likely the company only has their eye on federal funds becoming available. İn four days you won't get much more than a beginning exposure. Of course there are more levels you can sign up for for the same kind of money! For those with more money than brains and who don't care about getting a job this type of thing may be perfect!

Training is a great idea for those looking into a new field - these overly expensive things lasting a few days are close to useless. Your local community college is a better source. For the most part, green jobs are nothing all that new  - just more emphasis is being placed solar or geothermal (for example) than in years past.

Check on line blogs for training sources - these cookie cutter courses will affect your wallet - but your future? Maybe so probably no.

post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
Agreed about the community college quote. You don't need that much training when it comes to green anything. Unless of course you're setting up an advanced energy system at your own home and don't have any experience. Still, even then, my ex and I started planning a passive solar home when we had zero experience then built one almost entirely on our own after the ex took some basic community college courses and we read some books. 

Those expensive courses are unnecessary. You could learn more for less by simply aiming for an entry level job in a field you're interested in or look into those college classes. I think hiring parties like hands on experience better anyhow than a certificate that says you took an expensive training.
post #4 of 9
Great post Jennifer.
I run a small electric utility co., and I am continually dumbfounded by my customers reluctance to read their own energy meters. Yet their utility energy meter provides accurate & detailed feedback in as timely a manner as is desired.

For my own home, I read my electricity meter each Saturday morning, noting the exact date & time. This info gets plugged into a simple excel worksheet that tells me exactly how I am doing (re energy efficiency). The goal is to get an accurate kWh/day.

Having an accumulating degree-day meter ( ddh = degree-days-heat ), allows a further breakdown of energy consumption to kWh/day/ddh. This lets you compare your energy consumption regardless of the air temperature.

Gas meters provide accurate information that is not quite as simple to convert, since they are volumetric. The ratio between consume gas volume (cu-ft or cu-m) and energy content varies with distribution pressure and temperature, but your utility co should tell you the fudge-factor applicable for your region & season, to convert gas volume to energy (typically in GJ). Converting GJ to kWh a simple conversion factor.

A Toronto electric smart-meter pilot-project allowed folks to view their meter information on-line. The result was that people were motivated to save on average 30% on energy consumption. This amazing result was simply through raising consumption awareness.

But you need not have a smart meter to read & use the energy meter information, in the course of your do-it-yourself energy audit. Learning to read your energy meter(s) is an essential 1st step.

M
post #5 of 9
Right Mountain, İ only have an electric meter (all electric in this area) but it is easy to read. The meter is a smart meter but not connected into anything which makes it a fancy digital dumb meter.

İf we used time of day (TOD) metering power would be more expensive - possibly this is what happened to people in Sacramento where they are having such a fuss about the new meters.

İ read the meter each morning (being retired it is a big event of the day) and enter the data into the spread sheet. The meter shows three different time periods.İ have done this every since getting a shockingly high bill a couple of years back.

As we are having a mild winter here (warmer than usual by far) İ haven't turned on the heat pump yet except for a trial. 

As regards training for a job - for energy audits, home inspections, solar, wind or geothermal heat pump installations there are many facets you will not learn from the unit operating instructions. The local community college can possible provide some of these.

İn my opinion, the CleanEdison programs mentioned in an earlier post not much more than sophisticated thievery!  
post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks, and yeah, reading your own meter is so simple for most people plus allows you to be more in control - or at least know where you stand. Most people could make significant energy changes just by paying attention a little more often and changing a few habits. 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mountain View Post

Great post Jennifer.
I run a small electric utility co., and I am continually dumbfounded by my customers reluctance to read their own energy meters. Yet their utility energy meter provides accurate & detailed feedback in as timely a manner as is desired.
 
post #7 of 9

I felt FORCED to take a class in Energy Auditing in order to land a position although I have performed over 4,000 energy audits and owned my own blower door/duct blaster/air quality/ weatherization business.

 

ALL the jobs call for BPI or RESNET cert.

 

I went to CleanEdison and I agree with the previous poster that it's like legal thievery. Yes it's important stuff, but I could have taught the class twenty years ago. And since I actually got quite dirty learning about homes the first thirty years or so, the few hours in class TALKING about it seemed quite simple.

 

Now I still can't find work in energy. But I have a shiny patch from back east that says BUILDING ANALYST.

post #8 of 9

Energy-efficiency in the home contributes hugely to efforts to increase conservation and reduce consumption overall. That's why green building is growing more prevalent. And, though they're sometimes confounding, government-backed incentives can be a great way to build a customer base for emerging technologies and designs.

 

House Port's PopUP House is a prefab home design that was inspired by an energy-efficient rebuild. Artist Hally Thacher developed the House Port concept when she adapted a residence in the California desert to be a comfortable living space, while conserving on resources and maintaining a low-impact lifestyle. Instead of hiding inside with an air conditioner running constantly, Thacher built a superstructure inspired by agricultural sheds, and found it to be a natural climate regulator when placed over the house. The shed also expanded living space, and the indoor and outdoor areas integrated under the overhang.

 

The PopUP House lives up to its green claims - it can accommodate a water catchment system for grey water collection, Thacher has recommendations for non-toxic finishes and energy-efficient appliances and the living units are constructed of heat-deflecting SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels). Calculations show that over time energy-efficient features and appliances can recoup their costs - if they're durably built, they're worth the investment.

 

http://ehouseport.com

post #9 of 9

Hey, Do it yourself and save the bucks!  I am really into DIY energy saving.  I made this up and hand it out to everyone! 

 

DO IT YOURSELF AND SAVE BIG BUCKS!

 

All houses leak.  Air leaks in your house cost you lots of money.  Heat lost in the winter and cooling lost in the summer.  To detect or find the leaks, you COULD pay a commercial company to perform a “blow test” on your structure for a fee of around $400.00 OR you could do it yourself for only $25.00!  Yes, $25.00. 

 

The Concept:  Using the materials listed below, you can create a partial vacuum in your house.  This means everywhere your house usually is leaking OUT - air will be temporarily leaking IN.

 

Items Needed:

A large sheet of cardboard (Like a refrigerator, stove or screen door box)

One roll of wide, BLUE painter’s tape – the kind that will not pull off the paint.

A box fan (20” or larger).

A full pad of 3-M small Post-a-Notes and a large black felt marker.

A package of those fat stick burning incense, a mayo jar lid and a spot of putty or clay.

 

Use the felt marker to sequentially number each sheet of the sticky notes (1 to 50).

 

Put a spot of putty on the mayo jar lid and press a piece of stick incense into the putty.  The lid is to collect the incense ashes, as it burns.

 

Close all windows and doors on a warm day.  Open one exit door and carefully tape the cardboard completely over the door opening.  It may take line or two of tape to do this. 

 

Cut a hole in the cardboard (with flaps) – big enough to place the box fan in, at the floor.  Tape the fan in the hole while making sure it will be blowing out when you turn the fan on.

 

Light the incense and turn the fan on high – blowing out.  Slowly move the burning incense in front of any items on the list below.  If you see the smoke blowing IN, there is a leak that would be leaking out.  Be thorough and check everything!   Put a numbered, sticky note by each leak you find and keep going!. 

 

Main floor and above

Check around all window seals and the doors - especially along the bottom. 

In front of ALL switch and outlet covers on all the outside walls.  

   (You can buy foam inserts to put behind the cover plates.

Exhaust fan in hood over stove.  (Maybe grease build-up on vent pipe does not allow

     the gravity flapper to close properly.)

Use small ladder to move incense in front of all bath exhaust fans.  (Maybe dust accumulation in fan prevents the flapper from closing properly.)

 

In the Basement

Check around all window seals.

Around all pipes or wires that go through the outer walls.

   (Expanding foam or putty can fix these.)

Use a small ladder to move incense stick along the sill plate.

   (This is where the upper wood walls rest on the cement basement walls.) 

  

Guess what?  You have the added bonus of sealing all the holes that spiders, pill bugs, earwigs and other bugs have been getting into your basement!  

 

Pretty good for only $25.00, eh?  J     

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