Energy & Efficiency Frequently Asked Questions

Energy audit and efficiencyWhat can I do to increase the energy efficiency of my home or business?

The first and best thing you can do is request a BPI Certified audit for your home or business.  It’s an inexpensive way to identify energy savings.  The BPI certification insures quality and is required to take advantage of  Energy Star Programs in New Jersey and other states.  For your convenience and safety, Powell Energy and Solar is NJ and BPI Certified Auditor.

What is an energy audit?

An energy audit is a thorough inspection and diagnosis of your home or business by a qualified professional, like Powell Energy and Solar.  We’ll check your home for performance, safety, and look for ways to improve energy efficiency. An audit normally only takes a few hours, requires virtually no work on your part and provides a roadmap of how to make your home safe, efficient, and comfortable. In many cases, the cost of the audit is subsidized by the government. Give us a call to see if your home or business qualifies for a subsidized audit and to schedule your audit!

Other than energy savings, what are some common reasons to have an audit?
Are parts of your home uncomfortably hot, cold, or drafty? Do you want to help the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and pollution? Do you want to reduce the US’s dependence on foreign oil? Would you like to improve the resale value of your home? Would you like to ensure the safety and health of yourself and your loved ones?  Beyond just financial savings, an audit provides a lot of benefits for homeowners and businesses.  If you answered yes to any of these questions, give us a call to schedule your energy audit.

What happens during a typical audit?

A complete and thorough audit will likely take 3-4 hours. The size of your home and the type of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems will affect the audit’s length.  The audit consists of the following:

General Inspection: The auditor will walk around and through your home, measuring its dimensions, observing and taking notes of the building systems, and identifying safety and performance concerns, and looking for opportunities for insulation and air sealing.

HVAC Combustion Testing: The auditor will perform a number of tests on your combustion appliances, potentially your heater, hot water heater, stove, oven, clothes dryer, etc.   Among other tests, the auditor will test to ensure that your heating devices are safely installed and ventilated.

Blower Door Test: The auditor will use a blower door apparatus (essentially a large fan) to determine areas of air leakage. During this test, the auditor will check all doors and windows, as well as ducts, attics, and crawlspace openings for leakage. We will use the blower door information to formulate a plan for air sealing or ventilation in your home or business.

Conversation: When complete, the auditor will discuss and explain his findings with you and make recommendations for improvements, repairs, and/or service. In addition, shortly after your audit, Powell Energy & Solar will send you a thorough report of our findings.

I have scheduled an audit with Powell Energy and Solar, LLC, what should I do to prepare my home?

Though an energy audit requires very little work on the homeowner’s part, there are a few things that you need to do before your audit:

  1. Know the locations of your heater(s), hot water heater(s), and air conditioner(s).
  2. Provide Powell Energy & Solar with a recent energy bill. This helps us to identify areas where you can save on energy costs in your home.
  3. Prepare your home
    1. Empty your clothes dryer and your oven.
    2. Safely restrain any large pets (cats, dogs, etc.).
    3. Refrain from using your fireplace for 24 hours before the audit. If possible, please remove ashes from the fireplace.
    4. Allow for clear access to your heater & hot water heater
    5. Remove any knick-knacks from your window sills (we’ll need access to your windows)
    6. Please be aware that the energy auditor will need access to all areas of your home. If there’s anything you’d prefer he or she not see, please put it away.

What will happen after the audit?

After the audit, the Powell Energy & Solar will prepare a report based in the auditor’s findings. For NJ residents, Powell Energy & Solar will take care of coordinating our findings with the New Jersey Clean Energy Group to to get your government subsidies. In the report, the homeowner can expect detailed plan for energy-saving work that can be done in the house, as well as recommendations for improving your home’s performance in general.

Based in these recommendations, Powell Energy & Solar will provide a proposal for services that can be carried out by our skilled technicians. For work that we cannot carry out ourselves, we will make a recommendation to one of our trusted partners. With over 30 years of construction experience, we only work with the best and most reliable subcontractors in the Delaware Valley.

What are some typical recommendations that an auditor may make?

Every house is different, so it’s hard to say in advance. However, we frequently find excellent opportunities for air sealing, HVAC controls, insulation, and appliance upgrades.

I just received a call from a window installer, offering new, energy-efficient windows? Is this the same as an energy audit?
No. While new windows may make your home more efficient, you’d probably be surprised to find out that there are many other things that you can do to your home that are are cheaper, less invasive, and will be more effective at saving energy. Unlike a call from a stranger, think of Powell Energy & Solar as a whole-body physical for your home. As a BPI Certified auditor, we have the know-how and experience to evaluate and understand all the parts of your home, and we know how they work together.

I don’t have a lot of extra money to do work on my home. Should I bother with having an audit?

Yes! An audit is your first step towards reducing your energy bills and saving you money. Plus, since many residential audits are government subsidized, it’s a great, inexpensive way to plan improvements to your home. You might be surprised to find out that there are simple things you can do to reduce your energy bills immediately. You might also be surprised to find out how many government subsidies exist to make energy-efficient home improvements. Powell Energy & Solar will work with you to develop a plan that works with your budget, makes the most of government subsidies, and most importantly, save you money.

I’m really interested in sustainability. Can Powell Energy & Solar help me do more than just save energy?

Absolutely! Beyond energy efficiency, a truly sustainable home conserves water, has a healthy interior environmental quality, maximizes natural daylighting, and even generates its own power. Donald Powell has been a US Green Building Council LEED Accredited Professional, specializing in green building design, since 2008.  Powell Energy & Solar is also a qualified and experienced solar installer. We can help you design and integrate systems to maximize your whole home sustainability.

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