Home Energy Solutions | Frequently Asked Questions

A Holistic Approach to Energy Improvements. Not Just Insulation.

FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

A home energy audit, also known as a home energy assessment, is the first step to making your home more comfortable and energy efficient. An energy audit gets to the bottom of your home’s issues.

An audit helps diagnosis your home’s comfort and/or energy efficiency issues so improvements made have the greatest impact, benefit and return on investment. A home energy audit should be conducted before making any energy-saving home improvements.

Your home is more than a building with just walls and floors. It is changing and evolving on a daily, even hourly, basis. Indoor and outdoor temperatures, the season, number of occupants, levels of insulation in the attic or walls, condition of your HVAC and mechanical equipment, ventilation and presence of air sealing, etc. effect how energy efficient, healthy and safe your home is. Making an improvement in one area can have a negative impact in another area. For example: improperly adding insulation in the attic can create an environment for mold and mildew.

That is why Home Energy Solutions of Wisconsin takes a holistic approach to energy improvements. We look at your entire home (top to bottom) and perform diagnostic tests to identify the cause of the problem so when improvements are made they positively (not negatively) improve your overall home’s comfort and energy efficiency.

Every home is different so it varies depending on its age, size and condition. We find that homes benefit the most from air sealing and adding insulation especially in the attic, basement/crawlspace, uninsulated walls and around windows and doors.

Replacing windows can seem like the obvious choice to improve your home’s comfort and reduce energy waste. While energy-efficient windows do help to tackle drafts and air leaks, the majority of a home’s energy is lost in other areas.

Trouble spots include attics, walls, light fixtures, doors and anywhere warm air can escape or sneak into your home. If you need new windows, we recommend replacing them as a package of upgrades that also includes air sealing and insulation. This will help maximize home comfort and savings.

The home energy audit takes 2-4 hours depending on the size, age and condition of your home. We recommend at least one homeowner to be available during the audit to answer questions. We encourage you to ask questions about your home and to take notes for future reference.

The home energy audit cost ranges from $300 – $400 depending on the size, age and condition of your home. This is a small price to pay to receive a comprehensive evaluation of your home, solutions and recommendations, and tips on how to make it more comfortable and energy efficient. NOTE: Depending on the project scope and size, there may be no cost for the audit.

Planning for your audit will make sure your home is ready and you get the most out of the experience. Here are a few tips:

  1. Have at least one homeowner available to accompany the energy advisor throughout your home. We encourage you to ask questions and take notes. Plan to learn about the current condition of your home and how your home is holistically connected. Your energy advisor will provide tips on how to improve the energy efficiency of your home and how you can save more energy and money.
  2. Expect the audit to take 2 – 4 hours depending on the size, age and condition of your home.
  3. Allow access to all rooms. Make sure there is clear access to heating and cooling equipment, appliances and other mechanical systems. Remove ashes from fireplaces and/or wood-burning stoves prior to the appointment.
  4. For the safety and well-being of your pets, temporarily relocate or restrain them. The diagnostic tests are harmless but can be scary and stressful for your pets.
  5. Plan to provide access to one or more years worth of utility bills or energy usage.

During your audit, your Home Energy Solutions of Wisconsin energy auditor will perform the following services:

  1. Visual inspection of your living space, attic, basement or crawlspace.
  2. Blower door test to measure air tightness.
  3. Combustion safety test and ventilation test to ensure mechanicals, such as your furnace and water heater are operating correctly and there is sufficient air circulation.
  4. Infrared camera scan (optional) to identify air leaks and lack of insulation in walls and around doors and windows.

A blower door test or the ‘Big Red Door’ is used to test the airtightness of buildings and helps physically locate air leaks in your home. The blower door consist of a frame and flexible, red panel that fits in a doorway, a variable-speed fan and a pressure gauge to measure the pressure difference inside and outside the home. The blower door test depressurizes the home to simulate a 25 mph wind.

Your energy advisor will conduct tests and collect data to enter into software that will help identify issues in your home and how to improve it.

Yes, it is safe to be in the building while the test is being conducted. Your energy advisor will make sure atmospheric boilers, furnaces and woodstoves are shut off before the testing begins and that the home is properly ventilating.

Your energy advisor will provide a customized energy report highlighting the improvements and upgrades that are the best investments for your home.

They will also go over the incentives available through our partner, Focus on Energy, and help you prioritize efficiency improvements before pricing out the project costs, presenting a contracting and completing the improvements.

While some of these improvements could be a DIY project it is usually not for the “Average Joe” homeowner. Knowing where to make improvements to avoid introducing new problems and having the right equipment is key. Air sealing and installing insulation can also be a messy, back breaking and time consuming project. Plus, to receive Focus on Energy’s most generous incentives a qualified Focus on Energy Home Performance Trade Ally/Contractor must perform the work.

Your customized Home Energy Report includes the results of the data collected during your home energy audit, proposed issues, recommendations and proposed cost estimates including available incentives for eligible customers.

Yes, any changes made to your home, whether it is updating a bathroom or doubling your home’s square footage, will affect the way your home performs. The best time to take steps to improve the overall performance of your home is before demolition and construction.

Focus on Energy is Wisconsin’s energy efficiency and renewable resource program. The statewide organization provides information, resources and generous financial incentives that benefit all Wisconsinites by implementing energy efficiency and renewable energy projects that otherwise would not happen, or in some cases years sooner than scheduled.

A Focus on Energy Trade Ally / Contractor is trained and qualified to participate in the program and has agreed to abide by Focus on Energy rules and guidelines. It is Focus on Energy’s way of ensuring the work performed on your home and the materials used meet strict standards and guidelines and the customer service provided are of the highest quality.

Focus on Energy financial incentives are available only to certified trade allies / contractors. To be eligible, a contractor must have the required business and insurance credentials, apply to participate in a particular Focus on Energy program and follow strict program standards and guidelines. Home Energy Solutions is a Focus on Energy Trade Ally / Contractor and is eligible to provide Home Performance air sealing and insulation incentives.

Focus on Energy programs and incentives are available to single family (1-3 units) and multi-family (4+ units). Homeowners must be a customer of a participating Focus on Energy utility company and at least 51% of the home must be heated through natural gas or electricity. Before making any improvements, Home Energy Solutions of Wisconsin will confirm your eligibility and complete the necessary paperwork.

What your neighbors are saying about us...

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"Cannot believe how much longer the house stays cold, with AC hardly running at all. Was even able to raise room temperature and started those savings on the AC. Looking forward to winter and know we will enjoy the same extra warmth and savings! Best thing we ever did!"

- Mark Gorham


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