What is an Energy Audit?
An energy audit, also known as an energy assessment, is the first step to assess how much energy your home or building consumes and to evaluate what measures you can take to make your home or building more energy efficient. Energy audits can include analysis of existing lighting, heating and cooling systems, building envelope and insulation, appliances, refrigeration, signage, windows and doors and even land grading/drainage. An Energy Audit Report typically follows the on-site review, which will show you were the issues are, provide recommended improvements to save energy, include the associated cost to implement the energy saving improvements, forecast the percent of energy savings, individually and cumulatively, if improvements are made, and list any rebates or incentives you would be eligible to receive.
What is a “Full Equipment” Energy Audit?
There is typically a fee associated with a full equipment Energy Audit and it is the most comprehensive audit, which includes testing your home or building using specific equipment. The equipment and testing includes a blower door test to determine building tightness, a thermographic scan to check for heat loss, testing your air distribution system to determine system efficiency with a duct blaster or pressure pan, furnace or combustion appliance testing, computer modeling using the information/data collected, and possibly an analysis of your historical utility usage. The full equipment audit provides a more reliable return on investment forecast and how quickly the capital-intensive improvements will pay for themselves in energy savings. Improvement recommendations resulting from a full equipment audit tend to show the highest energy savings as well as considers the whole building not just specific areas and relate your eligibility for associated rebates and/or incentives. An Energy Auditor may be able to perform a less expensive walk through audit by visually examining areas of the home/building, but there is no substitute for a comprehensive audit performed by a certified auditor when looking for significant “whole building” energy savings. View this YouTube Video of a Full Equipment Home Energy Audit.
What is a “Walk Through” Energy Audit?
A less expensive “Walk Through” audit will include an on-site review and evaluation of your home or building, without using any test equipment, to identify any existing energy inefficiencies in the home or building. This visual inspection of the structure looks at the age and condition of equipment, and examines existing levels of insulation, the condition of windows and doors, looks for issues of high moisture accumulation or water damage, and obvious points of outside air infiltration. The follow-on Energy Audit Report will provide an overview of findings and list recommendations for improvements along with associated cost to implement improvements and your eligibility to receive specific rebates and/or incentives.
Can I just get a cost estimate on the Duke Energy Rebate items?
Yes. Most often these specific cost estimates are free and result in you receiving a hard copy of a "cost estimate" to accomplish the specific rebate or incentivized work in your home or building. If during the on-site review of the specific rebate/incentive items the auditor notices any surrounding energy improvement opportunities these could be listed in the cost estimate as well but the auditor would not typically look at the whole house or building only specific areas.
What are the rebate amounts associated with the Duke Energy Program?
There are varying amounts of rebates offered by Duke Energy and we are authorized to offer and file for any or all of the three categories listed on our Rebate Page. There are specific Trade Ally’s associated with the installation of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems who, as a licensed General Contractor, we are able to sub-contract with and still gain you the associated rebate for new equipment installs accordingly. Please review the table below for the rebates and requirements we are authorized to obtain for you and you may go to the Duke Energy Smart Saver website to view available rebates and authorized HVAC Smart Saver Trade Ally's.
Can I phase-in/stagger the implementation of recommended improvement measures over time?
Yes. In our Energy Audit Report or cost estimate we list improvements measures by priority with respect to implementation to achieve the most beneficial return on your investment. As such, if you wanted to implement the measures over a period of time we would suggest starting with priority 1 and moving to the highest priority as finances or time allow. We can work with you and keep cost unchanged for approximately two (2) years from the start of the work, with exception to the cost of insulation.
As the owner, can I select which measures I want to implement?
Absolutely. We want you to make the decision on which measures you want to implement and when. We provide the recommended improvement measures to you in a prioritized order for you to review and select. While they are prioritized and we encourage your selection in that order we accept your decision to implement the measures in any order you wish. If you were to implement the measures in the order we recommend you would experience the fastest return on your investment but if you were to implement all of the measures in a different order over a period of time you would still experience the same cumulative energy savings in the end.
What is an “Energy Retrofit?”
An Energy Retrofit is the renovation or refurbishment of an existing home or building to upgrade the energy performance of the associated assets for their ongoing life. Often retrofit involves modifications to the existing buildings’ systems, equipment, and/or envelope to improve energy efficiency or decrease energy demand. In addition, retrofits are often used as an opportune time to install new more energy efficient products or equipment replacements. Energy efficiency retrofits can reduce the operational costs, particularly in older homes or buildings, as well as help to attract tenants
What is Air Sealing?
Air sealing is the systematic finding and sealing of air leakage points throughout your home, from the attic to the walls to the basement and/or crawlspace. It’s very unsexy work, usually in the not so nice parts of your home like attics and crawlspaces. Reducing the amount of air that leaks in and out of your home is a cost-effective way to cut heating and cooling costs, improve durability, increase comfort, and create a healthier indoor environment. Caulking and weather-stripping are two simple and effective air-sealing techniques that offer quick returns on investment, often one year or less.
What is Duct Sealing?
In houses with forced-air heating and cooling systems, ducts are used to distribute conditioned air throughout the house. In a typical house, however, about 20 to 30 percent of the air that moves through the duct system is lost due to leaks, holes, and poorly connected ducts. The result is higher utility bills and difficulty keeping the house comfortable, no matter how the thermostat is set. Duct sealing reduces if not eliminates these leak points using duct mastic and makes the delivery network more energy efficient.
What is the difference between Cellulose & Fiberglass Insulation?
Fiberglass and cellulose are both used for thermal insulation and come in a range of R-values. Fiberglass is quicker to install and offers more protection against mold and mildew growth. It is the most cost-effective and common insulation material today. Cellulose, however, does offer more depth in R-value. It takes 12” thickness or more of Fiberglass to secure an R-30 rating while Cellulose material only requires the thickness to be 8.1” to gain the same R-30 rating. However, Fiberglass is lighter in weight, which makes it easier for it to move through the blow-in pipes and more efficiently cover all the spaces needed in your attic. Cellulose’s heavier material adds more unnecessary weight to your drywall. While Cellulose may provide more depth and better soundproofing qualities, it may lose its R-value over the years. After installation, cellulose has been reported to pack and settle. This can cause it to form pockets in the settled areas which can transfer hot or cold air into your home. Fiberglass, on the other hand, stays in its original form and shape, which typically means it lasts longer. Fiberglass can last over 30 years and often comes with a lifetime warranty. It is also quicker to install and offers more protection against mold and mildew growth.
What is the difference between crawlspace encapsulation and weatherization?
Encapsulation is the process of completely covering the entire crawlspace with white high mileage plastic covering. It also includes sealing the foundation vents, seams, and junctions and gives your crawlspace a clean feel. Encapsulation can costs between $5,000 and $10,000 to perform. Weatherization is the process of covering all of the soil on the floor of the crawlspace and 6 to 9 inches of the walls and columns from the floor with 6 mil opaque plastic. If you have a combustible fuel appliance in your crawlspace and do not want to spend the money to fix this issue, weatherization is the best option for moisture protection in your crawlspace. Air sealing the floor (ceiling of crawlspace), vents, and junctions can still be accomplished under this measure along with floor insulation. Weatherization can costs between $800 and $1,500 to perform. See our detail description on Encapsulation versus Weatherization.
What is the difference between batt and roll insulation?
Roll and batt insulation are lumped together as Blanket insulation. The critical difference between the two is that roll insulation can be rolled out and cut, whereas batt comes in precut pieces that are installed separately. You can find rolls and batts as either faced or unfaced with the R-value denoted on the packaging. Batts and rolls are available in widths suited to standard spacing of wall studs, attic trusses or rafters, and floor joists: 2 inch x 4 inch walls can hold R-13 or R-15 batts; 2 inch x 6 inch walls can use R-19 or R-21 products. Continuous rolls can be hand-cut and trimmed to fit. They are available with or without facings. Manufacturers often attach a facing (such as kraft paper, foil-kraft paper, or vinyl) to act as a vapor barrier and/or air barrier. Batts with a special flame-resistant facing are available in various widths for basement walls and other places where the insulation will be left exposed. A facing also helps facilitate fastening during installation.
Weather-stripping is the process of sealing openings such as doors, windows, and trunks from the elements. The term can also refer to the materials used to carry out such sealing processes. The goal of weather-stripping is to prevent air, rain, and water from entering entirely or partially and accomplishes this by either blocking or rerouting the intruding element. If you run your hand around the perimeter of your closed door and feel a cool draft, your door weather stripping is probably worn, cracked or deformed. Maintaining an airtight seal on your doors is essential for stopping cold drafts and keeping your home comfortable. Replacing door weather stripping on newer doors is fairly easy.
What is a vapor barrier?
A vapor barrier is any material used for damp proofing, typically a plastic or foil sheet, that resists diffusion of moisture through the wall, floor, ceiling, or roof assemblies of buildings to prevent interstitial condensation and of packaging.
Foundation Vent Sealing
The advantages of sealing the foundation vents goes well past the moisture control aspects. Every winter, that cold kitchen or bathroom floor reminds us that we need to get some insulation in the crawl space. Well, before you can warm anything you have to keep the cold away. Closing the foundation vents will make your heating bill drop, warm your floors, and keep the water pipes from freezing. DO NOT CLOSE YOUR VENTS IF YOU ARE NOT GOING TO INSTALL A VAPOR BARRIER OVER THE SOIL FLOOR. One thing to know about this subject, and any subject regarding crawl spaces, if you try to fix one problem without addressing the other “known” problems there is a great chance you will worsen your crawl space. It seems like "conventional wisdom" is changing out there to the point where it is no longer recommended to install foundation vents around your house. Evidently, thinking that the vents increased air circulation and therefore helped dry things out, all they do is allow the humid air in. Even the 2021 Building Code is authorizing home builders to make a decision whether to install or not install foundation vents.
Do you offer financing to your clients?
Yes. We are an approved contractor with AFC First Financial who is a national leader in financing and programs for Energy Efficient Home Improvements. All homeowners who are making qualifying improvements to their primary residence or vacation home are eligible. Good credit and the ability to repay are required at any income level. The “EnergyLoan®” is for energy-related and renewable energy improvements. All work can be financed if at least 50% of the project is comprised of either Heating & Cooling, Air Sealing & Insulation; Windows & Doors; Electrical & Plumbing; Geothermal, Solar & Other; or Whole House Home Performance with ENERGY STAR. You can apply or get more information on this finance program at www.Energyloan.net or by calling 888.232.3477.