How Much Are You Really Paying to Power Your Home?

Construction Worker Installing New Windows In HouseAs the desire for energy efficient homes continues to increase, more and more features are being developed to facilitate them.

Thanks to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Star program, there are plenty of options for homeowners; new, high-efficiency windows and doors, for instance, can save homeowners between 7 and 15% on their energy bills.

However, the Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports that a journalist from Builder magazine has revealed new research from the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and the Pew Research Center. The data shows the expansion of the average size of the American home may be contradicting new energy efficient features.

Mcmanus reports that new houses, now averaging more than 2,600 square feet, are 60% larger than those in 1973.

Even though the percentage of energy being used by homes for heating, one of the largest energy expenditures for houses, dropped from 53% in 1993 to 41% in 2009, the increase of electric devices in use has outweighed those savings.

One of the more difficult aspects of maintaining an energy efficient home is that it’s difficult to tell how efficient it actually is, besides looking at the utility bills.

Some of these larger homes may someday finally be able to overcome high energy usage by conducting an energy audit, which is meant to ensure the efficiency of buildings.

Unfortunately, as Plumbing Engineer reports, the energy audit industry is extremely unstructured, leading to uncertainty about the quality of different audit contractors.

In an attempt to bring some reliability to the industry, the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) and the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA) have proposed the standard for Commercial Building Energy Audits, which will establish consistent practices for conducting and reporting energy audits on commercial buildings.

“Most practitioners in the energy audit industry are trying to do the right thing for their clients by finding projects and quantifying energy and cost savings in energy audits,” Jim Kelsey, chair of the Standard 211P Committee, said. “However, without a consistent standard, we have seen the quality and approach to energy auditing vary widely throughout the industry.”

The proposed standard will include procedures designed to provide a common scope of work for three separate audit levels, to establish standardized industry practices, and to establish minimum reporting requirements for all results.

In the future, programs such as these may even be more openly available for all types of structures, including residential buildings. The standard for Commercial Building Energy Audits will be open for public comment until Jan. 4, 2016.

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