van de Ven Construction LLC
Custom Builders and Insulation Specialists
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Energy Audits and the Home Performance with Energy Star process
Energy audits are in depth inspections of your home, with specific focus on energy efficiency opportunities and an eye on safety. While every audit is custom and tailored to the wishes of the home owner, some key elements are always part of the process. Contrary to popular opinion, Energy Audits are not free. The audit results in a report that you can use to decide what steps to take next. At this point you are free to hire anybody to do some or all of the work. However, if you hire us, upon completion of the project we will perform the final inspection with our blower door (the test-out) and file the appropriate documentation with Efficiency Vermont at no additional charge. Usually you will see your incentive check in the mail in another couple weeks. Both a test before and after the project is completed is required to qualify for incentives.

 A blower door is used to establish a baseline of air tightness of the house, as it is today. In addition, it provides sense for the amount of opportunity there is to improve the building envelope. As a rule, the blower door is used to assist in finding the “holes” in the envelope, since a draft can be felt at for instance the gap at the fire place trim while the fan is running. Depending on the conditions, an infrared camera is used to analyze more complex situations, or to provide the homeowner with graphic images of issues that are encountered.
The report differs greatly between auditors. Some reports are a great read, full of pictures and general information about heat loss, insulation and heating systems as a whole. My style is to leave the fluff out and simply list the safety issues and the opportunities for improvement. As a rule, my reports show pricing by improvement measure and often show alternate solutions for the same problem. This provides the home owner with choices and allows comparison between “the best” and the “also pretty good” solution. The unfortunate result is that for some people the report comes across as an attempt to be down on their house. However, this is never the intent. If people hire me to perform a home energy audit, I consider it my task to be as complete as possible and list every reasonable option I come across. It is uncommon to see reports with less than five options but there have been reports with as many as 22 options.  
Included in the report are basic safety measurements of your boiler or furnace in regards to leaks, drafts and emissions. Also, the overall efficiency is measured, which is sometimes included as an opportunity in the report. However, since we don’t install heating systems ourselves, you get a third party opinion about your heater. To some people this is a great relief. 
Energy Model:
 As part of the report, you will get a copy of the results page of the energy model. This energy model is an analysis provided by Efficiency Vermont that is based on my observations during the audit and your existing energy use. In addition, it lists the estimated savings of each option or improvement measure. So it may be helpful to prioritize which options to pursue as part of your project based on this model.  

Incentive Estimate: 
A separate area of the report will estimate the amount of incentives that may be available for your project. Note this is subject to approval from Efficiency Vermont.

Next Steps:
 As mentioned before, this report is yours and to use as you see fit. Some homeowners use it for planning remodeling projects and future home improvements. Some homeowners use it for budgeting and commonly decide to implement a limited set of improvement measures, basically to get the most bang for the buck now and to do some more in future years. We have several customers like that. Some homeowners decide to do some work themselves and use the report as a guide. In several cases, when the homeowner is pretty handy and wants to actively participate in the project, we agree to some type of consulting role in addition to performing parts of the project.
  Note that we insist on certain quality measures as part of the installation. In extreme cases it would be imaginable that we won’t sign off on a project and the incentives would not be paid. This is necessary to protect our BPI license.  
However, most home owners use the report to decide which projects they want us to complete for them.  

 If we oversee the project and install select improvement measures, we perform the final blower door test and file the necessary documentation with Efficiency Vermont at no additional charge. Your incentive check will then be sent to you directly in a few weeks.