The test attaches a fan to the outside door. The fan pulls air out of the house to lower the inside air pressure. Air from the outside flows in through any openings. While the air is being pulled out, the auditor can see where the leaks are occurring.

HSW 2008

Professional Home Energy Audits

Don't have the time or patience to do your own energy audit? Consider hiring a professional energy auditor. The auditor will do a room-by-room check to make sure your home is operating efficiently. Although there is a cost involved, it's usually no more than $200, and your utility company may offer to pick up part or all of the tab. Plus, the money you'll save in the long run will more than make up for anything you spend on the audit.

Even if you hire a pro, though, you need to prepare. Get a list ready of any problems you suspect. Also have copies of your energy bill over the last 12 months (call your utility company for copies if you don't have them on hand), so the auditor knows where to be on the lookout for potential problems.

To find an energy auditor in your area, ask neighbors or friends for a recommendation, look in the Yellow Pages under "energy" or call your local government energy office or utility company. When choosing a contractor, make sure the person is licensed and insured. Ask for references and check them. Call the Better Business Bureau and find out if there have been any complaints made against the company.

During the audit, the contractor should use a calibrated blower door test to check how well your home is sealed off against outside drafts, and a thermographic inspection to detect leaks. A professional audit should also include a check of leaks in the duct system, and a test of the heating and air conditioning units.

Thermographic inspections use infrared cameras to identify where heat is escaping from your home. The heat shows up on the camera as white, yellow and red. Sometimes this test is done together with the calibrated blower door test.

HSW 2008

So the audit is done and you've identified your problems. What next?

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