Questions about my home energy audit

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Dr. Gaius Baltar
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Questions about my home energy audit

Post by Dr. Gaius Baltar » Thu Jul 12, 2012 6:49 pm

I just had an energy audit done on my home today. I've been looking forward to it for a couple months now, and it's been step 3 of my 3 step plan to cut spending: switch to the high deductible health insurance plan, refinance, and get a home energy audit in order to cut energy spending. The audit cost $100 through my electric company.

I estimate that I'll be in this house until just shy of the end of the decade. If energy prices stay where they are, I estimate that I'll be spending another $15,300 on gas and electric bills before selling and moving on, without any upgrades. My goal, from doing this home energy audit, was to identify any high return on investment fixes that would pay for themselves before I sell the place, finance the costs to upgrade, and enjoy the savings. I haven't yet seen the home energy auditor's report, which if I understand correctly should arrive in late July or early August, but I've written notes of the sorts of things he mentioned while auditing the home. I'd like to get an outside perspective on whether or not these things are compatible with my goal of cutting costs through greater energy efficiency.

Notes:

The home energy auditor used an infrared gun to look at the walls, revealing several parts of the living room that had no insulation in the attic, and temperatures of between 90-105F. Also revealed parts of master bedroom with insufficient insulation in the attic. He suggested taking out all the existing insulation (which he mentioned was 7” deep) and putting in whole new insulation, all through the attic, that was 18” deep, and that it should be foam insulation.

The auditor talked about the water heater, said that standard gas water heaters which cost less than $1,000 are unsafe because they could malfunction and result in massive amounts of carbon monoxide being spilled into the house, and it would be better to go with a water heater that doesn’t suffer from that design flaw, but would cost $6,000. I don’t recall the name, maybe it was “coilless water heater”. He said that the existing water heater, which is from 1999 or so, is too old to still be in operation, and should be replaced immediately. He also suggested installing a part, some sort of safety valve or some such, which could prevent that design flaw. He said that regular carbon monoxide detectors wouldn’t detect the carbon monoxide that comes out of regular water heaters when they exhibit this flaw, but his establishment sells special carbon monoxide detectors that would detect it.

He talked about how we should immediately replace the heater and air conditioning unit. He said that the outside air conditioning unit is from 1989, and the inside part (which is also the heater, I believe) is from 2004, and that parts from 1989 and 2004 are too old to still be in operation. He believed that the brand name, Goodman, was unreliable and should be replaced by a Carrier unit, which they sell at his establishment. He noted that the A/C was SEER 9, and the new ones are around 16.

He talked about how it’s unsafe to have an attached garage, because carbon monoxide can leak up from the car into the house, even if the garage door is open and the car is on for only a few seconds while in the garage. I mentioned that we have a hybrid vehicle. He said hybrids put out the most carbon monoxide when they’re in garages. He said that one of the services he could provide was to seal up the garage so that carbon monoxide doesn’t leak up into the house.

JDCPAEsq
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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by JDCPAEsq » Thu Jul 12, 2012 6:59 pm

Was this audit done by the power company or a private business? The results sound like a huge scam.
John

Dr. Gaius Baltar
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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by Dr. Gaius Baltar » Thu Jul 12, 2012 7:02 pm

The audit cost $100 from us, the power company pays another $300 to the auditor. The auditor was a private contractor, selected from the list of power company approved home energy auditors.

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FrugalInvestor
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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by FrugalInvestor » Thu Jul 12, 2012 7:05 pm

In my opinion your 'auditor' is really a salesman. Based on the sorts of recommendations you noted I'm guessing that your utility contracts with a third party to supply the audits, which is unfortunate.

Unless the energy audit provides you with payback and break-even information it is of minimal value for your purpose. You not only want to cut your energy costs, but I'm assuming that you'd like to see a full payback and preferably considerably more during the time that you plan to be in the house. Hopefully the detailed report will give you more useful information. If not, at least it may provide you with areas to focus on in order to do more research on your own.

If the report comes back with basically the kinds of recommendations voiced by your auditor I'd go back to the utility and ask for my $100 back.
Last edited by FrugalInvestor on Thu Jul 12, 2012 7:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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wingnutty
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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by wingnutty » Thu Jul 12, 2012 7:07 pm

Obviously one of the problems associated with any audit is if the person conducting the audit has a financial interest in the outcome of the audit. It sounds to me like the auditor does have a financial interest in the audit that was conducted.

I'm not saying the entire audit is worthless, nor that his suggestions are not valid, but I would severely question some of the findings. Most every house in America has attached garages and most are not completely sealed to prevent CO and other gases from entering the living area. Some builders are addressing this, but most are not. How big of a problem is it? It probably depends on a lot of circumstances, but by and large, it is probably not a huge problem. Addressing the problem will probably not be cheap on an existing structure.

As far as the water heater, I don't know? But there are an awful lot of propane water heaters in use (including mine) and very seldom are there problems.

My advice, get a CO detector in your house and another near your water heater and sleep easier. I am not sure what the auditor is talking about that normal CO detectors don't detect CO? Maybe he is selling his product?

Regarding insulation, what is the existing insulation? Where are you located? 7" is very little, and more would probably be a good idea. BUT, depending on what it is, I wouldnn't necessarily replace it. You can add insulation on top of existing insulation under most circumstance, depending on what is existing and what you will be adding. He wants to add foam because it is EXPENSIVE! Foam is great, don't get me wrong, but blow-in foam is expensive and most likely will not repay itself in that situation. You would probably be better off blowing in cellulose or fiberglass over your existing insulation and calling it good. If you wanna do more, go seal all the air leaks in the attic (ceiling lights, holes where wire enters/exits, etc...most heat loss is throught these conduits under most situations.

Post up more specifics on your insulation though, so we know for sure.

jmg229
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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by jmg229 » Thu Jul 12, 2012 7:30 pm

Dr. Gaius Baltar wrote: The home energy auditor used an infrared gun to look at the walls, revealing several parts of the living room that had no insulation in the attic, and temperatures of between 90-105F. Also revealed parts of master bedroom with insufficient insulation in the attic. He suggested taking out all the existing insulation (which he mentioned was 7” deep) and putting in whole new insulation, all through the attic, that was 18” deep, and that it should be foam insulation.
It is very possible that putting some additional insulation in, especially in the attic, would be a worthwhile endeavor. While 7" is not a lot of insulation, and it's probably low quality, I would check on the quality of your windows and doors before going crazy with anything in the walls of a living space (much less invasive to do windows and they are the major sources of heat loss anyway).
Dr. Gaius Baltar wrote: The auditor talked about the water heater, said that standard gas water heaters which cost less than $1,000 are unsafe because they could malfunction and result in massive amounts of carbon monoxide being spilled into the house, and it would be better to go with a water heater that doesn’t suffer from that design flaw, but would cost $6,000. I don’t recall the name, maybe it was “coilless water heater”. He said that the existing water heater, which is from 1999 or so, is too old to still be in operation, and should be replaced immediately. He also suggested installing a part, some sort of safety valve or some such, which could prevent that design flaw. He said that regular carbon monoxide detectors wouldn’t detect the carbon monoxide that comes out of regular water heaters when they exhibit this flaw, but his establishment sells special carbon monoxide detectors that would detect it.
What he is talking about likely is a tankless hot water heater, though that price seems incredibly high. They don't have the carbon monoxide issue because they are electric. There are situations where these are useful, but they're definitely not for everyone. I'd check out this Department of Energy link for more info (they are a great source for all things home energy). If anything, look at what the efficiency of your current hot water heater is and decide if it is worth replacing. The only major system change I'd probably consider (having had my hand in the design and construction of a few zero net energy homes) would be a solar hot water system (check out evacuated tubes or flat plate collectors, depending on your climate). These tend to pay off in 5-6 years depending on your location, usage, etc.

http://www.energysavers.gov/your_home/w ... opic=12770
Dr. Gaius Baltar wrote: He talked about how we should immediately replace the heater and air conditioning unit. He said that the outside air conditioning unit is from 1989, and the inside part (which is also the heater, I believe) is from 2004, and that parts from 1989 and 2004 are too old to still be in operation. He believed that the brand name, Goodman, was unreliable and should be replaced by a Carrier unit, which they sell at his establishment. He noted that the A/C was SEER 9, and the new ones are around 16.
I have no idea what specific part he is talking about, but it is beginning to sound like he is really just trying to sell you stuff. You can (or perhaps he should) calculate the estimated payoff of increasing the SEER rating of your unit, but the "too old to still be in operation" line sounds pretty sketchy salesperson to me.
Dr. Gaius Baltar wrote: He talked about how it’s unsafe to have an attached garage, because carbon monoxide can leak up from the car into the house, even if the garage door is open and the car is on for only a few seconds while in the garage. I mentioned that we have a hybrid vehicle. He said hybrids put out the most carbon monoxide when they’re in garages. He said that one of the services he could provide was to seal up the garage so that carbon monoxide doesn’t leak up into the house.
This is starting to sound more and more like he's just trying to get some commissions or something. Sure, CO leak is a concern in houses and a detector would not be a bad idea, but I would love to hear an explanation of why hybrids put out the most carbon monoxide while they are in garages. The typical hybrid out there is just your average higher than average car with the addition of some batteries, a generator, and an electric drive chain, none of which should be emitting CO.

Overall, I think you may get some useful information, but I'd certainly be running his suggestions by some other people before implementing anything.

Dr. Gaius Baltar
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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by Dr. Gaius Baltar » Thu Jul 12, 2012 7:34 pm

FrugalInvestor wrote:In my opinion your 'auditor' is really a salesman. Based on the sorts of recommendations you noted I'm guessing that your utility contracts with a third party to supply the audits, which is unfortunate.

Unless the energy audit provides you with payback and break-even information it is of minimal value for your purpose. You not only want to cut your energy costs, but I'm assuming that you'd like to see a full payback and preferably considerably more during the time that you plan to be in the house. Hopefully the detailed report will give you more useful information. If not, at least it may provide you with areas to focus on in order to do more research on your own.

If the report comes back with basically the kinds of recommendations voiced by your auditor I'd go back to the utility and ask for my $100 back.
Yep, he's a contractor for a local business that my power company contracts with to provide subsidized home energy audits to its customers.

I look forward to reading the report, which will come with payback and break-even information, late this month or maybe early next month. You're right, I do want to see full payback and considerably more while I'm in the house.

@wingnutty:

It's good to know that we're not really in much danger from having an attached garage. I don't think I want to have it sealed if it's not actually an imminent danger, and if it would also cost a lot.

My water heater uses natural gas.

There is a carbon monoxide detector 6 feet from the gas water heater, and another in the hallway, about 10-15 feet away from the water heater, and another in the 2nd floor hallway, and another in the master bedroom. They've never detected any CO.

I'm located in the DC/MD/VA area. I was hoping that there was some sort of new insulation that wasn't as hazardous to your breathing as fiberglass, and that it would be inexpensive, and we could add it to the existing insulation.

I'm not entirely sure what sort of insulation is in there right now. It wasn't installed in some sort of a pillow or sandwich (I don't know how to describe the various types of insulation), rather it was as if someone how blown out onto the attic.

jmg229
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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by jmg229 » Thu Jul 12, 2012 7:53 pm

As far as insulation goes, it sounds like it is spray foam or loose fill insulation. That may mean that adding more spray foam to the attic makes sense. There are certainly other types of insulation out there besides fiberglass. One of my favorites is made from recycled blue jean material, but that is more like the rolls of fiberglass you are probably used to seeing, not something that is typically blown in place. Check out your options for spray foam or loose fill insulation below if you want to see what your most likely options are.

http://www.energysavers.gov/your_home/i ... opic=11510

mikep
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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by mikep » Thu Jul 12, 2012 8:17 pm

JDCPAEsq wrote:Was this audit done by the power company or a private business? The results sound like a huge scam.
John
+1.. another vote for scam. Did he look at and test for leaks in the ducts? That's usually the big one. Does his company install ductwork? If not, maybe that's the reason he didn't look at it. Why remove insulation instead of just add it .. ?

Also if a 2004 Heater is too old to be in service I'd take a hard look at his break even analysis if it goes past 8 years.. it could be higher SEER whatever but if it has to be replaced in 8 years its not so cost effective is it?

Dr. Gaius Baltar
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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by Dr. Gaius Baltar » Thu Jul 12, 2012 8:34 pm

He did look at the ducts where the air comes out (there are two ducts in the master bedroom, I noticed him sticking what I think was some sort of probe into them). It took a few minutes, I believe. I think he unscrewed the ducts, briefly put some sort of probe in there, and then took it out and close them back up. He mentioned that he didn't know the CFM of the airflow coming out of these ducts in my room.

I noticed him measuring the windows with a tape measure, but beyond that he didn't do any more with the windows. I didn't notice him do anything about the doors.

jmg229, I think you're right, I think it does sound like spray foam or loose fill. It basically looked like someone had sprayed mashed potatoes or packing peanuts all over the place.
Last edited by Dr. Gaius Baltar on Thu Jul 12, 2012 8:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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scubadiver
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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by scubadiver » Thu Jul 12, 2012 8:35 pm

Gaius,

I would be very cautious about following through on any of these recommendations.

For starters, the comment about the garage is almost laughable. As a good practice, I wouldn’t leave the car running in the garage for more than a minute or two and keeping the garage door open goes without saying. If you really want peace of mind though, install a carbon monoxide detector in the living space near the garage. You can pick one up a Lowes or Home Depot for $20 and it takes 10 minutes to install. If you have a natural gas furnace / hot water heater, you should probably have these in your home already IMHO.

About the A/C unit - how much money are you going to save on your monthly bills that it makes sense to spend probably $5K (or more) to replace your A/C unit now? And who’s to say that the new unit will not need to be replaced as well before you sell the house in 8 years? I would not replace it until it was either dead or in need of a very expensive repair. If / when that does happen, get a high efficiency unit to replace it, just don’t do it until you absolutely need to spend the $$$.
Dr. Gaius Baltar wrote:He said that regular carbon monoxide detectors wouldn’t detect the carbon monoxide that comes out of regular water heaters when they exhibit this flaw, but his establishment sells special carbon monoxide detectors that would detect it.
:shock:

Ok, I just read this part. You should ask for a refund. This guy sounds like a fraud and is almost certainly a cylon.

Scubadiver

johnny72
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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by johnny72 » Thu Jul 12, 2012 8:46 pm

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Last edited by johnny72 on Fri Aug 03, 2012 6:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

Mudpuppy
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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by Mudpuppy » Thu Jul 12, 2012 8:52 pm

He sounds like a salesperson. That he thinks there's some sort of super, special carbon monoxide that can somehow escape detection by standard CO monitors is both chemically ridiculous and alarming (he's trying to use scare tactics to get you to give him money, instead of rationally realizing CO is CO, regardless of what produces it... and if CO monitors have never been tripped, then it's not entering the living space). That he did not use an infrared camera to survey the duct work as it passes through crawl/attic spaces is also alarming, as a great deal of efficiency can be gained by sealing leaks in the duct work. Just measuring the temperature of the air that reaches the room is not sufficient. (Edit: Same goes for not using infrared to measure heat gain/loss through the windows.)

If you're really concerned about CO leaking from the attached garage, spend $30-50 on a CO monitor with an LCD display that will always show you the levels of CO, even if they do not pass alarm levels. I can pretty much bet that will be cheaper than whatever special device he was trying to sell you, and far cheaper than this ridiculous "seal the garage away from the house" operation he was trying to sell you.

Saving$
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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by Saving$ » Thu Jul 12, 2012 9:13 pm

This is a scam.

Re insulation: You most likely have loose fill fiberglass or cellulose. Go to the home improvement store and see what they sell and figure out what you have. You can't put foam on top of loose fill - you need to remove the loose fill. Foaming your attic creates other problems also. Just put some additional loose fill on top of what you have.

Re Water heater. Mine is from 1996. I guess going by this guys advice I need to run out and get a new one tomorrow. Replace it when it breaks. Do your research now so you know what kind you will want.

Re Air conditioner. Mine is from 1994. Fixed the fan motor last week when it got really hot. You may actually see some savings by putting in a more efficient system, but not enough to pay for itself.

Best energy efficiency measures are making sure you seal leaks, make sue weatherproofing around doors is in good condition, make sure duct is not leaking, make sure duct is properly sized and dampers are properly adjusted. Get a programmable thermostat. Clean your air handler filters.

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fizxman
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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by fizxman » Thu Jul 12, 2012 9:38 pm

"He said that regular carbon monoxide detectors wouldn’t detect the carbon monoxide that comes out of regular water heaters when they exhibit this flaw, but his establishment sells special carbon monoxide detectors that would detect it."

And here I thought all CO was the same. My 10th grade Chem teacher will be getting a nasty email tomorrow morning.

BogleBrit
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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by BogleBrit » Thu Jul 12, 2012 9:59 pm

I had an audit done under a similar program. I think it is a genuine effort by the energy company to save energy and their customers money but the contractors see it as a way to get $400 or so to inspect people's houses and drum up a lot of business. I won't go into our full story as it would take some time but it was very unsatisfying. The contractor did not find much work that would 'pay off' in our house and stopped returning my calls when I tried to schedule the duct sealing and attic insulation that the energy company would have covered for me (I assumed at low payments to the contractor).

Eventually the energy company took care of me. The Program Manager came out one day with a different contractor and did the duct sealing. It turned out we didn't qualify for insulation rebates and he suggested doing a DIY project to add a little more but the amount the contractor recommended was unecessary for our area. He said they were finding that the people that were inclined go through the audit had taken many steps to already weatherproof their house and they were not reaching the homeowners that could benefit most from it.

Regarding the water heater, I think 20 plus years is pretty old. There were some discussions on water heater replacement here a few months back that you may be able to find via search. Whatever you end up doing make sure to work closely with the energy company to get as many rebates as you can.

Novine
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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by Novine » Thu Jul 12, 2012 11:15 pm

" I would check on the quality of your windows and doors before going crazy with anything in the walls of a living space (much less invasive to do windows and they are the major sources of heat loss anyway)"

I would question the return on your investment if someone suggests replacing windows. The benefits of window replacement are often oversold and it can take decades to recoup the cost of replacing the windows in energy savings. Glass has almost no insulating value and even the bells-and-whistle versions of "energy efficient" windows have R-values of around 4. That's why the window industry doesn't like to use R-values because they're afraid that it would get customers asking what's the real benefit of replacing windows if it doesn't lead to any significant savings in energy costs.

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FrugalInvestor
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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by FrugalInvestor » Fri Jul 13, 2012 1:18 am

jmg229 wrote:As far as insulation goes, it sounds like it is spray foam or loose fill insulation. That may mean that adding more spray foam to the attic makes sense. There are certainly other types of insulation out there besides fiberglass. One of my favorites is made from recycled blue jean material, but that is more like the rolls of fiberglass you are probably used to seeing, not something that is typically blown in place. Check out your options for spray foam or loose fill insulation below if you want to see what your most likely options are.

http://www.energysavers.gov/your_home/i ... opic=11510

Typically if you already have loose fill in you ceiling joists you will not have the option to add spray foam. Spray foam would be in place of the loose fill or would go in before the loose fill. The other option for spray-in is to put it in the rafters rather than the ceiling joists but that's an entirely different system and probably not something that would be cost effective at this point. Your best bet is just to add more loose fill. Options would typically be fiberglass, rock wool or cellulose but usually you would go with more of what's already there but you could talk to installers about adding cellulose to the existing fiberglass. It's just ground up newspaper treated with a flame retardant and is very effective.
IGNORE the noise! | Our life is frittered away by detail... simplify, simplify. - Henry David Thoreau

Ne'er-do-well
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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by Ne'er-do-well » Fri Jul 13, 2012 10:04 am

Use this website to evaulate the pay back period for the contractor's recommendations:
http://homeenergysaver.lbl.gov/consumer/

Valuethinker
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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by Valuethinker » Fri Jul 13, 2012 10:33 am

Novine wrote:" I would check on the quality of your windows and doors before going crazy with anything in the walls of a living space (much less invasive to do windows and they are the major sources of heat loss anyway)"

I would question the return on your investment if someone suggests replacing windows. The benefits of window replacement are often oversold and it can take decades to recoup the cost of replacing the windows in energy savings. Glass has almost no insulating value and even the bells-and-whistle versions of "energy efficient" windows have R-values of around 4. That's why the window industry doesn't like to use R-values because they're afraid that it would get customers asking what's the real benefit of replacing windows if it doesn't lead to any significant savings in energy costs.
With an argon or xenon filled triple glaze you can get R7-8. R5-6 is certainly pretty attainable.

(European windows are u-rated. R= 1/u but to get your R, you take our R x 5.6 (metric to Imperial). So our average window is about 1.5 (about R4 in your terms) but 1.0 is certainly doable (Ie R6).

But I agree the payback for replacing windows is seldom worth it-- paybacks 15 years+. We did it on the north side of the house, which is *cold*.

When we put in slanting windows (Velux) and dome windows in a loft conversion we went for triple glaze over double glaze. The payback period is 20-30 years, ie around the expected life of the windows, but it also made the room more comfortable (our winters are seldom below 30F say, but winter nights are long).

The other way windows can pay off is on the sunny side of the house-- you can get heat reflective windows which are really good, commercial quality.

Valuethinker
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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by Valuethinker » Fri Jul 13, 2012 10:41 am

Dr. Gaius Baltar wrote:I just had an energy audit done on my home today. I've been looking forward to it for a couple months now, and it's been step 3 of my 3 step plan to cut spending: switch to the high deductible health insurance plan, refinance, and get a home energy audit in order to cut energy spending. The audit cost $100 through my electric company.

I estimate that I'll be in this house until just shy of the end of the decade. If energy prices stay where they are, I estimate that I'll be spending another $15,300 on gas and electric bills before selling and moving on, without any upgrades. My goal, from doing this home energy audit, was to identify any high return on investment fixes that would pay for themselves before I sell the place, finance the costs to upgrade, and enjoy the savings. I haven't yet seen the home energy auditor's report, which if I understand correctly should arrive in late July or early August, but I've written notes of the sorts of things he mentioned while auditing the home. I'd like to get an outside perspective on whether or not these things are compatible with my goal of cutting costs through greater energy efficiency.

Notes:

The home energy auditor used an infrared gun to look at the walls, revealing several parts of the living room that had no insulation in the attic, and temperatures of between 90-105F. Also revealed parts of master bedroom with insufficient insulation in the attic. He suggested taking out all the existing insulation (which he mentioned was 7” deep) and putting in whole new insulation, all through the attic, that was 18” deep, and that it should be foam insulation.

The auditor talked about the water heater, said that standard gas water heaters which cost less than $1,000 are unsafe because they could malfunction and result in massive amounts of carbon monoxide being spilled into the house, and it would be better to go with a water heater that doesn’t suffer from that design flaw, but would cost $6,000. I don’t recall the name, maybe it was “coilless water heater”. He said that the existing water heater, which is from 1999 or so, is too old to still be in operation, and should be replaced immediately. He also suggested installing a part, some sort of safety valve or some such, which could prevent that design flaw. He said that regular carbon monoxide detectors wouldn’t detect the carbon monoxide that comes out of regular water heaters when they exhibit this flaw, but his establishment sells special carbon monoxide detectors that would detect it.

He talked about how we should immediately replace the heater and air conditioning unit. He said that the outside air conditioning unit is from 1989, and the inside part (which is also the heater, I believe) is from 2004, and that parts from 1989 and 2004 are too old to still be in operation. He believed that the brand name, Goodman, was unreliable and should be replaced by a Carrier unit, which they sell at his establishment. He noted that the A/C was SEER 9, and the new ones are around 16.

He talked about how it’s unsafe to have an attached garage, because carbon monoxide can leak up from the car into the house, even if the garage door is open and the car is on for only a few seconds while in the garage. I mentioned that we have a hybrid vehicle. He said hybrids put out the most carbon monoxide when they’re in garages. He said that one of the services he could provide was to seal up the garage so that carbon monoxide doesn’t leak up into the house.
Almost none of this makes sense and the untruths that are detectible suggest a scam in the making.

yes you should get CO detectors (any house should). I would assume there is a US legal standard on sensitivity required for all, and that it warns before CO hits a lethal level (a very low concentration in practice). Beyond that you are getting to scientific instrument levels.

Yes you probably should seek at least 12 inch insulation in roof. However the best ways to do that are either to roll out fibreglass (or recycled plastic) rolls on top of existing insulation. For a blown in solution, my preferred solution is usually blown cellulose, not as nasty as some other products. You need advice from an independent contractor on that.

The big wins on energy saving are almost always the little things: replacing fridges that are more than 20 years old, halogens replaced with LEDs, CFLs, insulation in the attic, draught proofing. Most of these have paybacks of less than 5 years. Big capital spending (before something *needs* replacement) is usually not justified.

On the water heater check the links provided by others. I doubt he is fully on the level.

On the AC when you do replace, I suggest 'reaching' for SEER 15-16. But it almost never pays to replace early (unless you live in a really high cost area like California which is also extremely hot).

smackboy1
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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by smackboy1 » Fri Jul 13, 2012 12:01 pm

Dr. Gaius Baltar wrote:I just had an energy audit done on my home today.
Was this an energy audit or a thinly disguised sales call? I had an energy audit about 5 years ago and I have since upgraded my insulation, reduced air infiltration, and replaced my HVAC (because it failed, not because of the audit).

What tests did the energy auditor perform? At minimum they should have measured every room in the house, and counted every window and door. They also examine the insulation with all that information come up with a heating/cooling load calculation for your house. They should have performed a blower door test to determine how much air leakage your house has. If you have forced air they should also measure the air flow at every register in every room. They should also measure how much electricity big appliances use at the outlet including vampires i.e. appliances that consume electric when turned off (e.g. TV). The end result should be a detailed report where and how the house is wasting energy. The report should not simply recommend "replace AC", it should have estimated energy numbers and costs so you can figure out what the return on investment of upgrading. At the time our house was about 15 years old with the original 10 SEER AC/80% AFUE natural gas furnace. The recommendation was to seal all the air leaks and doubling the insulation in the attic, but not to upgrade the HVAC (not worth the cost). Additional door seals were put in, ceiling light were sealed, insulation increased in exposed walls and blown over the existing attic insulation, attic air flow improved. It made a big difference. IMHO to achieve comfort the first thing that should be done is to plug all the leaks and insulate the building envelope.

Last year the furnace died so we replaced the entire system with a 16 SEER heat pump/95% AFUE furnace. On the initial sales call before we hired them, the contractor we ultimately chose performed a Manual J by measuring every room in the house and every window and door and examined the insulation to calculate heating/cooling loads. He also performed a Manual D by measuring the ducts. It took over an hour. Then he went back and entered all the data into a computer and showed us the full report which showed all the calculations required to properly size equipment for our house. Other bidders used a "rule of thumb" method based on the size of our house for recommending equipment. They all recommended equipment oversized for our house. We did not consider any of those bids.

We probably did not spend the lowest amount of $ possible, but I feel confident that we bought exactly what we needed for comfort and energy efficiency for our house.

I spent a lot of time on the Residential HVAC board of this forum http://hvac-talk.com
Disclaimer: nothing written here should be taken as legal advice, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by tomd37 » Fri Jul 13, 2012 12:27 pm

The contractor for smackboy1 did a good and proper evaluation. IMO, home location and system situation determines what is more important, AFUE or SEER ratings. I had to replace one of two systems in my home. It was the attic HVAC system serving the second floor. One side of our home is open all the way to the 18-foot ceiling and the a/c SEER rating for me was more important than the heating AFUE rating. I got a high SEER rating and a normal AFUE rating unit and have been very happy. Our monthly electricity charges dropped immediately after the installation two years ago as a result in the increased SEER rating, dual-speed air handler and dual-speed scroll air conditioning compressor. Much more efficient system.
Tom D.

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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by johnubc » Fri Jul 13, 2012 12:41 pm

I would go back to the utility company, and ask for a refund.

The CO detector comment and the AC unit comment - replace it because it is old - are just sales scams. Sure a new unit is more efficient, and *maybe* it would be advantageous to replace it - but is it cost effective to replace it?

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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by Imperabo » Fri Jul 13, 2012 12:54 pm

Is anyone else alarmed by the $300 the utility is paying for this? That comes straight out of the rate payers. As I understand it, utilities generally have NO incentive, or even a disincentive, to control costs. Their profit is often a set percentage over their costs as determined by regulators. So their profit can even INCREASE with higher costs.

It it were me, not only would I not follow the contractor's (scam artist's) advice, but I would see if the local newspaper were interested in a good scandal.

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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by Bengineer » Fri Jul 13, 2012 12:59 pm

First of all, VT is pretty dead-on here. I'll chime in on a couple of items.
Valuethinker wrote:...For a blown in solution, my preferred solution is usually blown cellulose, not as nasty as some other products. You need advice from an independent contractor on that.
Blown-in cellulose, in addition to being relatively innocuous as far as insulation goes, is better at slowing down air infiltration and blocking infrared radiation than fiberglass. Getting your R-value's worth with fiberglass is all about a tight installation. If it is not fitted carefully, convection diminishes the R-value. A good install is much easier to achieve and maintain with blow-in cellulose.
... draught proofing. ...
Depending on how tight your house is now, sealing could yield great returns for the money. The air is infiltrating 24x7x52. Assuming you got a proper audit with a blower-door test, the report should tell you how well your house compares to optimal.

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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by Elysium » Fri Jul 13, 2012 1:29 pm

Sounds like you hired the same con artist that did energy audit at my home. The recommendations are all pretty much same, except for the water heater part, and the special CO detector. He said same thing about garage, and how the CO would creep in even if you turn on car with garage door open and even if only for a few seconds.He suggested I insulate the small space on top of garage and all along the front siding of my house.

Anyway, I threw out most of what he said and called a local contractor who has done thousands of insulation jobs in the area. He laughed at the recommendation to take out existing insulation and lay new, he said why would you want to waste all that material, he said he will blow-in cellulite and bring it up to R-48 value which is the required amount in my area. They also brought fire rated canisters to seal on top of recess lighting, and seal with foam around any plumbing or other outlets into the ceiling. I showed him the area on top of garage, he said no need to worry since there is batting on the other side of the wall, and no need to waste insulation in garage.

Overall, he knew what he was doing, and his charges were less than half of the original con artist. Overall heating and electric bill so far in my home has gone down and the air quality is much improved. I did replace my HVAC though since it was quite old.

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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by Easy Rhino » Fri Jul 13, 2012 1:42 pm

I'm not even the least knowledgeable on the subject, but I'd probably want to complain to the utility for sending this bozo out. It would be interesting to see if the detailed report you're provided with is more... sane... but even if it's not upselling, then just the pitch the guy was spewing while doing the inspection sounds is reason enough.

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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by Elysium » Fri Jul 13, 2012 3:29 pm

I wouldn't count on the report being any useful. My guy did not send me an official copy of the report, even after repeated calls to do so. He said he is sending it in mail the next day each time, apologized for not doing so because he was out of town or out on the field, so on .. but the report never came by. I thought of complaining to the local consumer reporting agency. But let it go, since I wasn't going to hire the guy for any jobs, and a piece of paper from him would have been worthless anyway. I guess he didn't want an official record of the nonsense he was spewing, just in case it can be used to nail him.

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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by jmg229 » Fri Jul 13, 2012 6:03 pm

Novine wrote:" I would check on the quality of your windows and doors before going crazy with anything in the walls of a living space (much less invasive to do windows and they are the major sources of heat loss anyway)"

I would question the return on your investment if someone suggests replacing windows. The benefits of window replacement are often oversold and it can take decades to recoup the cost of replacing the windows in energy savings. Glass has almost no insulating value and even the bells-and-whistle versions of "energy efficient" windows have R-values of around 4. That's why the window industry doesn't like to use R-values because they're afraid that it would get customers asking what's the real benefit of replacing windows if it doesn't lead to any significant savings in energy costs.
This is actually exactly why you want to look at windows and doors after the attic, of course. Since simple windows have such poor insulating properties, that is where the vast majority of the heat leakage is. If you can improve from an R value of 2 to an R value of 5 or 6, that is a huge jump compared to moving from say R-14 to R-25 insulation in the walls.

Also, I want to second the points made earlier about the insulation. You should research what exactly the insulation you have is because that will dictate your options for improving it. As was mentioned, you can't spray foam over loose fill. So if you're not sure which of the two types you have, you should try to find out.

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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by Valuethinker » Sat Jul 14, 2012 10:38 am

jmg229 wrote:
Novine wrote:" I would check on the quality of your windows and doors before going crazy with anything in the walls of a living space (much less invasive to do windows and they are the major sources of heat loss anyway)"

I would question the return on your investment if someone suggests replacing windows. The benefits of window replacement are often oversold and it can take decades to recoup the cost of replacing the windows in energy savings. Glass has almost no insulating value and even the bells-and-whistle versions of "energy efficient" windows have R-values of around 4. That's why the window industry doesn't like to use R-values because they're afraid that it would get customers asking what's the real benefit of replacing windows if it doesn't lead to any significant savings in energy costs.
This is actually exactly why you want to look at windows and doors after the attic, of course. Since simple windows have such poor insulating properties, that is where the vast majority of the heat leakage is. If you can improve from an R value of 2 to an R value of 5 or 6, that is a huge jump compared to moving from say R-14 to R-25 insulation in the walls.

Also, I want to second the points made earlier about the insulation. You should research what exactly the insulation you have is because that will dictate your options for improving it. As was mentioned, you can't spray foam over loose fill. So if you're not sure which of the two types you have, you should try to find out.

JMG

I pay about US 7 cents/ kwhr for gas. I work that out as about 2 cents/ 1000 BTUs. It is my impression I pay about twice what the average US retail gas consumer pays, and maybe 3 times in some cases.

On that basis, in a southern England climate (winter lows are as low as 20F, say, but the the average winter temperature is probably around 48F), payback on moving from single pane glass windows to double glazing is over 20 years, on all calculations.

Now if I lived in Upstate NY or Midwest, then I could imagine that my radiant heat loss would be so large that it might pay. But, conversely, I'd already have storm windows? And we are talking half the basic price for energy (if you heat with oil, then my cost and yours are within 20% of each other-- home heating oil only pays a 5% tax here, whereas diesel fuel pays a c 100% tax).

The problem here is a new window (PVC U) with a U of 1.5 (so R= 4 ie 1/U then X 5.6) costs around GBP1000 fully installed. On the (useful) metric of 1 GBP here = 1 USD there (most prices seem to go that way, but ours include 20% VAT) that's going to cost you $1000? Rewindowing my Victorian row house is a GBP 10k exercise (that would be USD 16k).

You just don't get the savings to justify the cost. Even energy conservation freaks (which i am, up to a point) can find better investments in savings.

What I would say is that if you have to redo your windows for other reasons, it pays to go for triple glazing (at least on the cold sides of the house) because:

- the raw payback vs. double glazing (our building regs now require double glazing) are not great in the absence of further significant gas price rises-- you are pushing out payback another 5+ years

- however cold draughts in rooms are created by warm air inside hitting the window and sliding down it, creating convection cells. You gain in comfort. This was particularly true with our roof skylights (dome and 'Velux' slanted). And the door onto the false balcony (a big glass space).

Try to get Xenon or Argon triple glazed if you go that route.

To your point and the OP, it's unlikely the OP living in Mid Atlantic will get great payback on new windows *unless* the windows need replacement for other reasons.

I am sure there is a calculator on this on the web. Energy Information Administration website perhaps?


PVC U windows predominate here but compared to wooden windows:

- they don't need to be repainted, but properly painted wooden windows last forever (150 years+)

- they discolour with age

- they get brittle

- they won't last more than 25 years

- they are an environmental nightmare to dispose of (they don't biodegrade and they are toxic)

- the frames and the cross pieces (vertical and horizontal) have to be thicker which makes them look less attractive and let in less light

Aluminium windows are heat leaks, unless they have a proper thermal break between outside and inside. And they cost 3x as much (at least).

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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by Valuethinker » Sat Jul 14, 2012 10:42 am

smackboy1 wrote:
Dr. Gaius Baltar wrote:I just had an energy audit done on my home today.
Was this an energy audit or a thinly disguised sales call? I had an energy audit about 5 years ago and I have since upgraded my insulation, reduced air infiltration, and replaced my HVAC (because it failed, not because of the audit).

What tests did the energy auditor perform? At minimum they should have measured every room in the house, and counted every window and door. They also examine the insulation with all that information come up with a heating/cooling load calculation for your house. They should have performed a blower door test to determine how much air leakage your house has. If you have forced air they should also measure the air flow at every register in every room. They should also measure how much electricity big appliances use at the outlet including vampires i.e. appliances that consume electric when turned off (e.g. TV). The end result should be a detailed report where and how the house is wasting energy. The report should not simply recommend "replace AC", it should have estimated energy numbers and costs so you can figure out what the return on investment of upgrading. At the time our house was about 15 years old with the original 10 SEER AC/80% AFUE natural gas furnace. The recommendation was to seal all the air leaks and doubling the insulation in the attic, but not to upgrade the HVAC (not worth the cost). Additional door seals were put in, ceiling light were sealed, insulation increased in exposed walls and blown over the existing attic insulation, attic air flow improved. It made a big difference. IMHO to achieve comfort the first thing that should be done is to plug all the leaks and insulate the building envelope.

Last year the furnace died so we replaced the entire system with a 16 SEER heat pump/95% AFUE furnace. On the initial sales call before we hired them, the contractor we ultimately chose performed a Manual J by measuring every room in the house and every window and door and examined the insulation to calculate heating/cooling loads. He also performed a Manual D by measuring the ducts. It took over an hour. Then he went back and entered all the data into a computer and showed us the full report which showed all the calculations required to properly size equipment for our house. Other bidders used a "rule of thumb" method based on the size of our house for recommending equipment. They all recommended equipment oversized for our house. We did not consider any of those bids.


We probably did not spend the lowest amount of $ possible, but I feel confident that we bought exactly what we needed for comfort and energy efficiency for our house.

I spent a lot of time on the Residential HVAC board of this forum http://hvac-talk.com
All excellent stuff.

The point about not oversizing is critical.

Oversize, and the system cycles on and off too much. You are either too hot or too cold.

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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by Valuethinker » Sat Jul 14, 2012 10:43 am

Bengineer wrote:First of all, VT is pretty dead-on here. I'll chime in on a couple of items.
Valuethinker wrote:...For a blown in solution, my preferred solution is usually blown cellulose, not as nasty as some other products. You need advice from an independent contractor on that.
Blown-in cellulose, in addition to being relatively innocuous as far as insulation goes, is better at slowing down air infiltration and blocking infrared radiation than fiberglass. Getting your R-value's worth with fiberglass is all about a tight installation. If it is not fitted carefully, convection diminishes the R-value. A good install is much easier to achieve and maintain with blow-in cellulose.
... draught proofing. ...
Depending on how tight your house is now, sealing could yield great returns for the money. The air is infiltrating 24x7x52. Assuming you got a proper audit with a blower-door test, the report should tell you how well your house compares to optimal.
Thank you for your positive reinforcement of my thoughts.

And you've told me what is wrong with part of my installation (ie convection within the fibreglass). Not much I can do about it now, but worth knowing.

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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by Dr. Gaius Baltar » Wed Jul 25, 2012 10:06 pm

The auditor is returning tomorrow to bring me his report. In addition to getting the report, I intend to ask him for an estimate of the cost of sealing the ducts, and adding additional insulation to our existing attic insulation. I don't intend to replace any appliances that aren't broken, because it doesn't seem worthwhile at this juncture. My intention is not to sign on to anything until I have his estimate and the estimate of at least one other contractor, to make sure I get the right price.

When he was looking at my natural gas water heater, he mentioned that water heaters can malfunction and overheat, shooting up like a rocket and blasting themselves through the house to land several hundred feet away. And I've already mentioned how he said that natural gas water heaters can leak carbon monoxide out into the house and kill everyone even with CO detectors. He mentioned that he could sell me a safety valve that would protect against that. Is this something that is worthwhile? Are the safety valves that are already on 1996-99 (I'm not sure which year it's from, it says 96 on it, the energy auditor said 1999) natural gas water heaters insufficient to protect against such catastrophic failure?

When he came and did the audit, he did the blower door test, measured the windows, tested the efficiency of the water heater and heater and air conditioner, turned the air conditioning up to max, then turned the heater up to max, stuck probes into various ducts, went up into the attic to take pictures of the insulation, and took pictures of the roof, where he said something was wrong with some sort of copper cable or something, I don't fully recall the details.

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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by livesoft » Wed Jul 25, 2012 10:11 pm

Dr. Gaius Baltar wrote:....
When he was looking at my natural gas water heater, he mentioned that water heaters can malfunction and overheat, shooting up like a rocket and blasting themselves through the house to land several hundred feet away. And I've already mentioned how he said that natural gas water heaters can leak carbon monoxide out into the house and kill everyone even with CO detectors. He mentioned that he could sell me a safety valve that would protect against that. Is this something that is worthwhile? Are the safety valves that are already on 1996-99 (I'm not sure which year it's from, it says 96 on it, the energy auditor said 1999) natural gas water heaters insufficient to protect against such catastrophic failure?
I have never heard of a water heater blasting themselves through the house. This sounds so spectacular that if it ever happened, that it would make International News. Let me search ....

Mythbusters: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGWmONHipVo

I think your safety valves are OK, but they are simple to test: http://www.sandiegohomeinspect.com/blog ... er-explode
Last edited by livesoft on Wed Jul 25, 2012 10:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by Dr. Gaius Baltar » Wed Jul 25, 2012 10:15 pm

He referred me to a television show called Mythbusters. I believe this is what he was talking about:
http://www.break.com/usercontent/2008/1 ... ket-433407

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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by livesoft » Wed Jul 25, 2012 10:19 pm

... and if he didn't test your valves, sue him.
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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by Mudpuppy » Wed Jul 25, 2012 10:54 pm

Dr. Gaius Baltar wrote:When he was looking at my natural gas water heater, he mentioned that water heaters can malfunction and overheat, shooting up like a rocket and blasting themselves through the house to land several hundred feet away. And I've already mentioned how he said that natural gas water heaters can leak carbon monoxide out into the house and kill everyone even with CO detectors. He mentioned that he could sell me a safety valve that would protect against that. Is this something that is worthwhile? Are the safety valves that are already on 1996-99 (I'm not sure which year it's from, it says 96 on it, the energy auditor said 1999) natural gas water heaters insufficient to protect against such catastrophic failure?
There were some theoretical articles on the potential explosive factor of tanked hot water heaters (both gas and electric) back in the 1990s and early 2000s, but it was pretty much theoretical. It would require a simultaneous failure of multiple parts, particularly the pressure relief valve and the parts related to temperature sensing and control. Essentially, the boiler would have to get stuck in the "on" position and the pressure relief valve would have to stop working at the same time to allow an over-pressurization event to occur. The rocket-like hot water heater tank is such a well-sold fear story that it even made it to Mythbusters. They did confirm the theoretical potential for such a catastrophic failure, but only after they disabled every piece of safety equipment that normally comes with a hot water heater.

So it's a theoretical problem, but one that can only crop up after pretty much all the built-in safety features of hot water heaters fail. There is no "new" magical safety valve that will prevent this, only regular maintenance of the regular safety equipment that has been in hot water heaters for decades. If he is using such an extreme and unlikely scenario to try to sell you something, you cannot trust what he says. Get a certified plumber out to inspect the hot water heater for corrosion and sediment (the two most common issues with hot water heaters) and to see if the pressure relief valve is functioning properly.

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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by Dr. Gaius Baltar » Wed Jul 25, 2012 11:36 pm

livesoft, I'm not sure whether or not he tested the safety valves on the water heater. I'm leery of testing them myself because I've never done anything like that before.

Mudpuppy, thank you so much for your reply, it's very informative and I can sleep well now knowing that my water heater isn't a ticking time bomb that will blow me to smithereens. When I'm done getting an estimate from the home energy auditor for adding insulation to the attic and sealing the ducts, I'm going to call a trustworthy plumber that I have experience with, and have him inspect for corrosion and sediment and teach me how to test the safety valve to make sure it's working.

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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by Default User BR » Thu Jul 26, 2012 12:35 am

Dr. Gaius Baltar wrote:He referred me to a television show called Mythbusters.
The Mythbusters basically couldn't get it to go without completely sabotaging the heater.


Brian

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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by Dr. Gaius Baltar » Thu Jul 26, 2012 1:59 am

In the Mythbusters show, they use electric water heaters, and mention having to disable two safety devices called the electronic cutoff switch and thermostat. Do natural gas heaters have those too?

I mean, I know my gas heater has a thermostat, but they referred to it as a safety device, which threw me off.

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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by Mudpuppy » Thu Jul 26, 2012 4:17 am

Dr. Gaius Baltar wrote:In the Mythbusters show, they use electric water heaters, and mention having to disable two safety devices called the electronic cutoff switch and thermostat. Do natural gas heaters have those too?
Gas hot water heaters also have these sort of control mechanisms, although not exactly the same as what electric hot water heaters have. Disabling both allows the water to be continuously heated until it basically boils into steam. Combine that with disabling the pressure relief valve and the tank will continuously increase the pressure until something breaks. That's how Mythbusters achieved "liftoff".

One other thing that you should have the qualified plumber check is if your hot water heater has the newer thermal switch control logic. I would not trust what the energy auditor says on this matter given his previous attempts to exaggerate the risks present in your house. But there is a newer control mechanism that can prevent the ignition of flammable vapors more effectively than just raising the hot water heater a few feet above the garage floor. It is rare to have enough flammable vapors in your garage to cause combustion at the hot water heater pilot light when the heater is raised a few feet, so I wouldn't fall for any attempt by the energy auditor to say you must do something NOW just for this feature. But if your hot water heater does not have this feature and the plumber says there are also signs that it is not aging gracefully (such as corrosion), it might be worth the expense to get a new unit with this feature.

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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by Shireman28 » Thu Jul 26, 2012 5:01 am

Speaking as a commerical contractor with an energy star-rated home:

If you're only going to be in the house another decade, I think the only thing that will pay for itself is to add more insulation to the attic. I would recommend blowing-in more fiberglass or cellulose in the attic. Usually this can just be blown in on top of your existing insulation.

Air sealing and re-caulking around windows, doors, sill plates, etc. may also be beneficial.

As for carbon monoxide, some homes in my area have installed a small blower that runs on a timer for 30 seconds or so after the garage door opens or closes. I haven't done that yet but I'm sure an electrician could price it for you.

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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by livesoft » Thu Jul 26, 2012 6:36 am

Dr. Gaius Baltar wrote:livesoft, I'm not sure whether or not he tested the safety valves on the water heater. I'm leery of testing them myself because I've never done anything like that before.
Sure you have. It's just like turning on a light switch and turning it off.
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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by englishgirl » Thu Jul 26, 2012 7:02 am

Wow, I'm glad I don't have your utility company. I had an energy audit done by a guy from the actual utility, and it cost me $30. He had a lot of very low or no-cost suggestions for me on turning off appliances, timing of when to run the pool pump, replacing bulbs with all energy efficient ones, etc. His big recommendations were that I definitely needed more attic insulation, and my a/c duct work needed fixing/replacing. He said the insulation was bad enough to qualify for (I think) a $400 upgrade rebate from the utility, and (with my permission), he called 5 companies on the spot to get estimates for adding more blown-in cellulose on top of the existing insulation. He found a couple of companies that were able to do it for less than the rebate cost, so I managed to get my insulation upgraded basically for free. He also called 5 companies for the duct work, which ended up costing $1200 after a rebate for that as well.

Did your guy at least discuss the cheap options as well as trying to sell you on expensive stuff? If not, it seems even more like a scam to me.
Sarah

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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by livesoft » Thu Jul 26, 2012 7:46 am

Not to sidetrack the thread, but I wonder if there is a big gender or age difference between the OP and the Audit Guy that is in play here.

I just checked the safety valve on one of my water heaters. It had a yellow tag on it stating to inspect it regularly. And I wasn't kidding when I said it was comparable to a light switch, so I am sure that anybody can do this.
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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by englishgirl » Thu Jul 26, 2012 9:39 am

livesoft wrote:Not to sidetrack the thread, but I wonder if there is a big gender or age difference between the OP and the Audit Guy that is in play here.
Because only old ladies get scammed? Or young, impressionable girls? Or only chicks are leery of testing things on complicated equipment they haven't looked at before?

Umm...¿Que?

There was a definite gender difference between me and my audit guy. Not so big of an age difference, I admit, as it was maybe only 10 years. But I did not feel scammed or given the hard sell.
Sarah

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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by Khanmots » Thu Jul 26, 2012 11:20 am

livesoft wrote:Not to sidetrack the thread, but I wonder if there is a big gender or age difference between the OP and the Audit Guy that is in play here.
As opposed to a little gender difference? :mrgreen:

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Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by mvc » Thu Jul 26, 2012 11:29 am

In my opinion this person is doing the audit just to sell the stuff. I even doubt whether the utility is paying him anything. I wouldn't hire him to do anything to fix. Even if I believe some of his recommendations are spot-on, I would hire someone else to do the job.

The single most important thing to do in energy loss minimization is sealing as many holes as possible where the conditioned air leaks into the attic and through the walls. After this comes adding enough insulation to get high R value. This is also the least expensive fix - if you can find the right person. Unfortunately most of the contractors are interested in only selling stuff that brings high profit margin for them.

Sometime back, someone recommended the following book.
http://www.amazon.com/Insulate-Weatheri ... like+a+pro

I really thank that person. Spend $14 and a weekend reading this book - you will likely save thousands in $ and you can spot most of the non-sense this contractor is talking about.

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I have a 1976 A/C unit which is still running fine - good made in USA product! I thought about replacing it - but decided against it since I use it only for ~2 months in a year. I will wait until it gives-up then replace it with a highest SEER rated A/C unit. However, I have done lot of sealing myself - from the knowledge gained from the above book and made my home as much energy efficient as I could.

Default User BR
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Joined: Mon Dec 17, 2007 7:32 pm

Re: Questions about my home energy audit

Post by Default User BR » Thu Jul 26, 2012 12:12 pm

englishgirl wrote:There was a definite gender difference between me and my audit guy. Not so big of an age difference, I admit, as it was maybe only 10 years. But I did not feel scammed or given the hard sell.
Just because the guy you worked with didn't behave badly, doesn't mean that it doesn't happen. The world's not perfect, there are many men who don't respect women, don't believe that they understand technical issues, and will try to take advantage of the situation.


Brian

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