Will DOE Score with New Program?

July 24th, 2012 by Editor

While homeowners face a variety of choices when it comes to auditors, test methods and cost, how do they know what program is right for them? Is it the Department of Energy’s (DOE) home energy score?

David Lee, supervisor of the Residential Deployment Program in the Office of Building Technologies at the DOE, has been heavily involved in a pilot project that offers such a score.

“Homeowners need a quick, easy, inexpensive way of evaluating the energy efficiency of the home,” Lee says. “It gives a person a point of comparison as to where they stand with regard to others [in regards to energy use].”

He explains that the analysis, “assumes standard behavior characteristics …. And doesn’t really get into three teenagers living in a house doing a lot of laundry.”

The analysis evaluates the structure and factors such as heating and cooling, air infiltration, insulation in walls, duct sealing, etc.

“It is meant to be relatively quick,” says Lee. “There are between 40-45 variables looked at by an approved energy auditor.”

As far as the three to four hour tests that some companies perform, Lee says those can run around $500. The DOE home energy score is meant to shortcut that laborious process. He adds that prices are dictated by the market but in the DOE pilot program the cost was approximately $100.

So what was the rationale behind creating it?

“We wanted to give the homeowner a less expensive option but still valuable information,” Lee says. “It was a very elegant way to provide information to the homeowner quickly. This gives a quick read of how efficient the home is and we thought there was a need for this tool to give a relative ranking.”

The first phase of the program implementation was launched in the summer of 2012 and Lee says it will continue to be rolled out in other areas as new partners join in. As far as certifications, the DOE program requires that its auditors are BPI or Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) certified and also have to pass a DOE-administered test.

Some window companies have expanded into energy audit services. For more on how to get started in energy audits, and all that entails, look to the July/August issue of DWM magazine.

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