An Energy Auditors Professional Mission |

Energy Auditors: A Professional on a Mission to Save EnergyHopefully, most people that become Doctors, want to be Doctors. If someone is going to go digging around in my belly, I want them to enjoy what they’re doing and not wish they were out leading a group of fisherman on a flounder trip.I feel the same way about Energy Auditors, anyone that is going to test my furnace for killer gases and inefficiency, better like what they’re doing. I Don’t want an auditor dreaming about moonlighting as a massage therapists and missing the big hole in my heating duct. An auditor that shows up at the door with a baby blue company shirt that has a professional logo on the chest that says RESNET ( or something similar ), a clip board, and a ladder, should be qualified and hopefully enjoy finding energy savings opportunities and areas of energy waste.A good auditor will have the ability to talk the walk, test everything in sight and measure everything not in sight. With a number of tools ( that you have never seen before ) with names like monometer and fyrite Pro, he or she will be able to tell you the difference in air pressure in pascals, the presence of CO in parts per million and the size of an air leak in cubic feet per minute. And when all the data is collected and recorded, the auditor has the ability, and the pure joy, of telling you exactly why your heat pump freezes, your ducts leak, and your power bill is dragging you to the poor house.Variety of License and Certificates:Several nationwide companies have developed training and certification programs that offer recognition for residential energy auditors. RESNET ( Residential Energy Services Network ) was established in 1995 by the National Association of State Energy Officials to develop the standard for a home energy rating system.The other main auditor training program is BPI (Building Performance Institute). Along with these two programs, RESNET and BPI, many State and local agencies will offer home performance training of their own design that concludes with a certificate and the knowledge of how to operate and test with the specialized equipment available to an inspector.Two year degrees are offered at a number of Colleges in building performance and offer a more in-depth and wide knowledge base than is offered by the 3 or 4 week RESNET courses. If an auditor is really going to get serious about saving energy and want the big bucks available by performing energy audits on high rise office buildings and manufacturing plants, than a four year degree is needed in the field of energy engineering. I am doubtful that you or I will see a true Energy Engineer on our front porch with a smoke stick and an infrared camera, but one never really knows.Energy Efficient Retrofits and Cost Effective Calculations: The main reason for performing an energy audit on a home is to prioritize a list of energy efficient retrofits and to establish the associated cost effectiveness or payback period. An auditor will test and collect data in an effort to discover where the most energy can be saved and which retrofits will save you the most money – and do it with the least amount of financial investment.Here are a few more things that an auditor will be able to complete during an energy audit.
Evaluate each major appliance for rate of energy consumption. You and I can spot an old energy hog refrigerator a mile away, but the energy auditor will be able to add type, size,condition, modified energy factor, and yearly kilowatt hours used to the deal.
Recommend appropriate energy conservation measures along with associated maintenance procedures. Just because you install a new furnace doesn’t mean you don’t need to know how and when to clean or replace the furnace filter.
Estimate labor and material costs on retrofit projects. Just how much will it cost to replace the metal framed, single pane, obscure glass, single hung window in the bathroom with a new vinyl framed, double glazed, low-E, U-30 window considering the 8″ hardiplank lap siding and the brickmoulding trim?
Project the monthly savings expected from a particular energy retrofit. How many kilowatt hours of electricity will be save if R-25 insulation is installed in an underfloor that has no insulation?
Point out, avoid, and mediate potential health and safety problems. You know, it’s not really a good idea to have an old gas fired water heater in your master bedroom closet.
The energy auditor will be able to instruct the household on behavior that wastes energy, like running around the house in a bikini in January with the thermostat set on 82 degrees. This behavior might remind you of your vacation in Hawaii, but at the end of the month, the power bill will remind you of the advantage of wool sweaters and thermal socks.
Quality Assurance Inspections: You will be amazed at the number of residential energy auditors that have home construction experience. Not only do they know how to test for air leakage, but they know how the wall was constructed in the first place. A good energy auditor will not conclude his contribution to your homes energy saving retrofits by handing you a piece of paper with a list of recommendations, but he will follow up on the retrofit process and see that the work is done correctly. Let’s face it, an insulation worker that is paid by the square foot and is one week removed from a bungalow in a neighboring country, may not be interested in the highest degree of work quality and performance.Some follow-up qualities of a home energy auditor are:
Inspect the project near completion to check for quality work.
Verify compliance with the work specifications and see that all work that was scheduled to be done actually got completed.
Provide some directions and feedback on performance to contractor supervisors.
Provide detailed procedure for correcting any work that was not completed satisfactorily.
Emphasize to the residents the importance of continuing and regular maintenance and some TLC.
Arrange for and schedule future monitoring or maintenance when appropriate.
When you have the energy auditor standing on your front steps and you have approved the patch on his work shirt as being professionally designed and recognizable as a trust worthy organization, the first question you should ask is this, ” What is your mission?”You might ask, “Why are you here?”, but that could lead to the honest response of, “for the money!” So, let’s take a look at some of the heart-felt ideals that separate Energy Auditors from fisherman, surgeons and massage therapists.Energy Auditors Mission Statement: The bottom line is simply – to conserve energy and save money – do just that and most homeowners will be tickled pink.This one is a little more reminiscent of a die-hard tree hugger, protect the environment by reducing harmful by-products. The by-products we are talking about here are mostly carbon based. When you use more energy than you really need, you cause ridiculous amounts of carbon to be released to the atmosphere.I like this one and there are no tree huggers in sight, increase home comfort. The first indicator of a successful energy saving retrofit is this -the home is more comfortable. The home is warmer, less drafty and quieter.One of the most important mission statement items involves basic health and safety. For this one, the physician and auditor have something in common. Whatever you do, do no harm. An auditor is trained in combustion appliance safety, mold and mildew remediation, indoor air quality, ventilation, lead paint hazards and asbestos dangers.Be a resource for the residents concerning energy products, conservation procedures, and lifestyle contributions. An energy auditor will leave the household a little wiser about all things that effect home energy savings. I trust most auditors learned the benefits of sharing in kindergarten.When you step up to the cashier at the grocery store, you may have a person ring up your purchase that really does not care to be there. Running a cash register for your toothpaste and potato chips was not in his or her original career plans. Tell the waitress to take the steak back to the kitchen and ask the chef to cook it like you wanted and you’d better be careful, the chef maybe a college student working his way through school and he really doesn’t care if you like the steak or not.There is a pretty fair chance that the man on your porch with the cool patch on his shirt wants to be there and is determined to save energy because he or she simply believes in it, loves it, and lives it. Saving energy is a passion, a calling, like an emergency rrom doctor. With home energy auditors, living up to a mission statement comes naturally.Thanks for stopping by, hope you come back soon, but I won’t leave the light on for you…

Energy Education and the Consumer |

Household Energy Consumption and Successful Energy EducationBehavior ChoicesTwo homes constructed the same year, sitting on the same city block, with similar households, can have vastly different energy costs. The furnace can be the same and the water heaters carbon copies, but one household can effectively control their homes energy costs and the other household produces an energy bill, shamefully, out of control.This is about insulation levels and how well the ducts are sealed, but it is even more about household behavior, energy education, and putting your best, energy-saving, foot forward. This is about parents passing down environmental concerns and expectations to their children and then to grandchildren. It’s about people that lived through the great depression and know the benefit of reducing waste and living with less because that was the only choice.One thing I’ve wondered, is it easier for a rural farmer, who picks tomatoes and corn out of his own garden, to be energy wise and interested in controlling energy consumption, or is it easier for the Central Park native that buys food from an asphalt fruit stand to understand the importance of conservation? Do you need to know how many tits a cow has before you can be frugal with a gallon of milk?Which household is more apt to have had the benefit of ongoing parental household energy education? Is it the farmer, as a result of being close to nature and the environment, likely to be the energy saver and need less energy education? On the other hand, perhaps the person that lives in the high rise is more aware of energy consumption and the amount of power it takes to keep a big city running.Energy educators and power companies have a big job as they work to provide energy education to all kinds of households. Since every household has the potential for both saving energy and reducing energy waste, the energy education challenge is to design a program that can be successful for all households. The gentleman farmer that lives by the creek in the green valley can benefit from energy education and the bank teller in the duplex by central park can also.If people are aware of energy-saving tools and behaviors, they can, within limits, control their energy consumption and curb energy waste. Consumer education then becomes one of the most cost-effective conservation measures available. Educators work to bring consumer education to the people in four essential areas. The subjects remain pretty much the same, but the approach may vary according to house location, income status, and resident EducationEnergy ED and Behavioral Decisions:Behavioral decisions is the Energy Educators biggest challenge when providing household energy education. It is the biggest challenge – yet the area with the most potential. People are simply set-in-their-ways and making behavioral changes is a slow and difficult task. How do you get a person to take a shorter shower with a low-flow shower head when they are accustom to relaxing for hours under the hot flow of water with enough water pressure to make a noticeable divot in the skin? The person feels slighted and abused. After all, just how much energy does it take to run a darn shower for an extra twenty minutes anyway?To change energy wasting behavior, educators try to make a direct connection between the shower they love and the power bill they hate. People learn from their own experiences and their own power bill. Ideal learning opportunities occur when residents make a decision, perform a task or behavior, and do it with their wallet in one hand and their power bill in the other. The educator is often more successful at getting the behavior changed if it is connected directly to the power bill.Therefore, to change energy behavior, the household needs to have power bill education and a complete understanding of the information that is available on almost all monthly statements. To connect real dollars and cents to behavior is the best way to change wasteful behavior.Energy ED and Comfort Perceptions:Basic ComfortsWhenever my daughter complains about a simple hardship, like having to walk home from school in 50 degree weather, I mention her ancestors and the Oregon Trail. If walking home in mild weather was a true hardship, we would still be living in Europe somewhere with everybody else.A lot of people would like to throw the energy educator out the door the minute they mention 68 degrees and thermostat in the same sentence. Are we all getting ridiculously soft or are the comfort levels we have come to expect simply a dividend of having someone else live in a covered wagon for 4 months.The energy educator needs to take a two fold approach here. One is to re-train the household into realizing that some comfort expectations are not really needed comforts and the second is to point out that the lack of comfort can have more to do with the lack of air sealing then the setting on the thermostat.Once the household blames comfort problems on the lack of insulation and the holes in the heating ducts instead of the size of the furnace and the out-of-adjustment thermostat, the household can get back to saving energy in comfort.Energy ED and Household Operation:Chances are if you don’t know what the brake pedal does and where it is located, you shouldn’t be trying to drive the car. You can get in the car, stick your elbow out the window, start the car rolling down the road, but it’s all going to be wasted when you can’t get the car stopped. Remember, car insurance covers dents and missing bumpers, but home insurance doesn’t cover energy waste.Energy education needs to provide training on where your homes brakes are located and how to use them. Only with an understanding of basic home energy systems, can the household use those systems in a more energy efficient manner.The challenge of the energy educator is to provide the household with a basic understanding of how their homes energy systems work and how they work with each other. With the broad differences in homes spanning more than a hundred years, this is no easy task for the educator.The educator is like the child with a huge, connect-the-dots puzzle in front of them. The educator completes the challenge by connecting all the energy system dots in a home until they make a complete picture that is understood by the household.MaintenanceEnergy ED and System Maintenance:Now that the Energy Educator has provided information on the energy systems and how they work together, he or she needs to provide training on the benefit of maintaining those systems. A car that can get 50 miles per gallon will not be able to realize that great fuel mileage if the tires are flat.With the coming cold weather, the Jones’s decided it was time to finally have insulation installed under the floor. Their feet have been cold long enough and warming their feet was contributing to huge increases in their power bill. Insulation was installed under the floor, but the foundation vents were not repaired which allowed critters to enjoy the newly insulated underfloor as well. As the critters rearranged the insulation, placing a lot of it in the dirt, most of the benefit of installing insulation was lost by not properly maintaining both the insulation and the vents.One of the most important maintenance items is the heat pump. Households get lulled into a sense of having great energy efficiency once they have the benefit of a heat pump. The energy educators job is to provide information on the importance of having a Heating Contractor service the heat pump system once a year to get the most energy efficiency from the heat pump every year. Once you get a Prius, don’t maintain it it like a John Deere and drive it like a Mustang.Not an easy job this thing called energy educator. The homes are all different and the household behaviors range from Covered Wagon to Queen Elizabeth. Energy Education remains the most cost effective measure available to both households and power providers for saving energy and increasing energy efficiency. How we live in our homes and how we react to our desired comfort level has a lot to do with the size of our power bill.So, how much does it cost to stand in a hot shower for an extra twenty minutes? Well, that depends. Fresh water from the hillside spring and a solar water heater, stand there until the clouds come over or the sun sets. But if your taking a shower in the drought region of Texas, pumping the water through a filter and then twenty miles uphill to a forty story high rise, don’t take a shower at all, stick to a sponge bath.