To obtain an Energy Star, LEED or National Association of Home Builders Green rating, whether in a new build or a remodel, a tight home envelope is essential to the home's performance. One way to know if a home is truly energy-efficient is by getting a home energy audit. After spending so much time ensuring that the house is as tight as possible—from caulking to good building framing practices to installing tight windows and doors and good ductwork—an energy audit is the best way to verify the work. And at this point in construction, if there's a mistake, it can be corrected.
When looking for an auditor, look for someone with a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) rater on staff. A HERS rater is a certified inspector who verifies and tests duct efficiency, envelope leakage and building insulation for compliance with current building efficiency standards.
A good energy auditor should come out to a new-construction site two or three times during construction and look for tight framing and insulation, proper installations, tight construction, air sealing and tight HVAC systems. The auditor should also return to the site once construction is complete and check and verify all work again. Diagnostic tests should include blower-door tests for the home envelope and the duct-blaster test for the integrity of the duct system.
Finding the right energy-auditing company with a certified HERS rater takes a little research, but online tools are available. The most important certification for an energy-audit company is the Resnet HERS Rater designation. To find a HERS-rated company, visit www.resnet.org, or search by state for HERS-rated companies at energystar.gov.
Having homes audited for energy efficiency is not mandated by state or federal agencies, but it can vastly improve business. Being a certified green builder and an Energy Star builder helps sell homes and attract clients. In today's eco-conscious world, consumers want a more energy-efficient, healthier home, and an energy audit will give you the proof that you can provide what consumers are looking for.
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