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Is you home and business really energy efficient? Missoula based Fill THE Gap can help.

September 23, 2010View for printing

Based in Missoula, Montana, Fill THE Gap is a company focusing on heat and air conditioned air loss evaluations. A multifaceted approach to conditioned air loss is taken. This includes both air leakage testing and infrared thermography. Fill THE Gap provides consulting, pre-construction and certification services.

A home energy audit is often used to identify cost effective ways to improve the health, safety, comfort and efficiency of buildings. As an incentive to get this work performed home owners may qualify for energy efficiency mortgages, rebates and tax credits to help reduce the financial burden due to upgrades or improvements. Using the most advanced technology an energy audit may involve recording various characteristics of the building envelope including the walls, ceilings, floors, doors, windows, and skylights. The leakage rate or infiltrations of air through the building envelope are concerns which are affected by overall construction elements and design.

Thermographic Inspections

Thermography measures surface temperatures by using infrared cameras. These tools see light that is in the heat spectrum. For each image the color or grade of color has its own temperature. Thermography is also used to identify water leaks and damage; missing or poorly installed insulation; air leaks, electrical system overheating issues, and friction from the wearing of mechanical parts.

In addition to using thermography during an energy assessment, you should have a scan done before purchasing a house; even new houses can have defects in their thermal envelopes. You may wish to include a clause in the contract requiring a thermographic scan of the house. A thermographic scan performed by a certified technician is usually accurate enough to use as documentation in court proceedings. This can be very beneficial in new-home construction where the homeowner is experiencing less-than-expected comfort.

Another advantage of thermography is the ability to perform non-destructive testing. Through the use of these tools we can identify anomalies that we can't see with the naked eye. Once identified then only those areas depicting the anomaly need be revealed to confirm that an issue actually exists. Whether known or unknown verification and investigation evaluations will help to better understand the things you can't see.

When selecting an energy auditor it is wise to ensure they have the proper credentials and certifications to fully understand the use of their equipment and why it does what it does. As well they need to understand building science to be able to fully address issues regarding thermal bridging and thermal barriers which impact air and heat movement in a building.

The following information was copied from the website

Professional Home Energy Assessments

Professional energy assessments generally go into great detail. The energy auditor should do a room-by-room examination of the residence, as well as a thorough examination of past utility bills. Many professional energy assessments will include a blower door test. Most will also include a thermographic scan.

Preparing for an Energy Assessment

Before the energy auditor visits your house, make a list of any existing problems such as condensation and uncomfortable or drafty rooms. Have copies or a summary of the home's yearly energy bills. (Your utility can get these for you.) Auditors use this information to establish what to look for during the audit. The auditor first examines the outside of the home to determine the size of the house and its features (i.e., wall area, number and size of windows). The auditor then will analyze the residents' behavior:

* Is anyone home during working hours?

* What is the average thermostat setting for summer and winter?

* How many people live here?

* Is every room in use?

Your answers may help uncover some simple ways to reduce your household's energy consumption. Walk through your home with the auditors as they work, and ask questions. They may use equipment to detect sources of energy loss, such as blower doors, infrared cameras, furnace efficiency meters, and surface thermometers.


David Loewenwarter

Fill THE Gap

101 E Broadway

Suite 513

Missoula, MT

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Reprinted under the Fair Use doctrine of international copyright law. Full copyright retained by the original publication. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

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