Comfort & Energy Audit

  • Thinking about buying a new furnace or air conditioner?
  • Do some rooms stay cold in the winter or warm in the summer?
  • Does it seem like you have to dust non-stop?
  • Are your utility bills too high?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, your home is a good candidate for a Comfort & Energy Audit (CEA). A CEA requires advanced diagnostic instruments and testing procedures, as well as a specially trained Building Science Analyst who knows how to put it all together.

Initial Consulation

We’ll start by conducting an interview to obtain information such as whether any rooms feel clammy when the air conditioner is running, or if any parts of the house need to be dusted more often than others. We encourage all the adults in your home to participate in this initial consultation since everyone's perception of comfort and indoor air quality is unique.

Equipment Inspection

Next we’ll take a look at your existing heating and cooling equipment. Is it efficient, dependable and safe? We will then visually inspect your equipment for any signs of deterioration, improper installation, or insufficient maintenance. We’ll let you know the average life span of your type of equipment, and we will also evaluate your system's air filtration and purification efficiency, to determine if improvements would better clean your indoor air.

Insulation Inspection

Even the best heating and cooling system will have trouble keeping you comfortable or will cost more to run if you don’t have enough insulation. We will visually inspect insulation levels throughout your home and determine if they meet currently recommended levels. Just as important, we’ll look for hidden defects, such as hollow wall cavities, that allow air and heat to bypass your insulation. Attic ventilation levels will also be checked.

Negative Pressure Test

Next we’ll bring in the heavy equipment. All houses should have some air leakage but most leak too much. Symptoms of excessive leakage include uneven temperatures throughout the house, wasted energy, excessive dust, cold drafts, dry air in winter, and clammy air in summer. On the other hand, some homes are too airtight and may have unhealthy indoor air.

To measure a home’s air tightness, Department of Energy scientists at Princeton University invented the blower door instrument. It is often featured in magazines and on television, including National Geographic, Better Homes and Gardens, Popular Science, and This Old House.

Using an Infiltrometer™ (a computerized blower door system) your Comfort & Energy Auditor will place your house under a Negative Pressure. We do this by using a large blower that is set up in an exterior doorway. This blower literally sucks the air out of your home, and the digital instruments attached measure the amount of leakage in both your house and your duct system.

Air Leakage Evaluation

Not all air leaks are created equal. From an air quality standpoint, those around your windows and doors are good leaks, since they let in fresh outdoor air. Bad leaks let in dusty, moldy or polluted air from your attic, garage, or crawl space. Leaky air ducts often bring in dirty air, and cause your heating and cooling equipment to perform well below peak efficiency. As part of the Infiltrometerâ„¢ blower door test, we will pinpoint where your home’s worst air leaks are, and where improvements can be made.

Air Flow Diagnosis

If your air duct system has hidden design flaws or blockages, your air flow will be restricted or unevenly distributed. This wastes your money and can make your home uncomfortable. Studies conducted for electric utilities nationwide show that over 66% of heat pumps and air conditioners suffer from this problem. We will conduct 'static pressure' tests - like a blood pressure check for your ducts - to reveal any hidden blockages or design problems.

Electronic Air Flow Capture Hood Test

Do you have rooms that are hard to heat or cool? There are economical solutions. Your consultant will use an air flow capture hood to measure precisely how much conditioned air is getting to those rooms (provided the supply vents are accessible). If air flow is low, the causes will be determined, and appropriate solutions will be prescribed.

Detailed Heat Gain/Loss Calculation

If you are considering replacing your furnace or air conditioner, we’ll want to perform what we call a load calculation. Using information we gather during our CEA, we’ll calculate the estimated equipment size your home needs to keep you comfortable summer and winter. You’d be surprised how many times we are able to reduce the size of the equipment, saving you money up front on the cost of the equipment and every month thereafter on utility bills.

Personalized Improvement Plan

Once the inspection and testing are complete, your we will explain the results, and give you a prioritized plan of recommended improvements. Many - such as adding insulation or weather-stripping - can be performed by homeowners as weekend projects. Other improvements may require professionals. Upon request, we will prepare a proposal for repairs that we can perform, and can recommend other contractors for services we don’t offer.

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Oren Atchley Heating and Air Conditioning

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