Stephen Robinson, owner of R.E. Construction, in Newcastle, Ind., uses his experience and training to market himself as an energy auditor. The contractor is a rating provider for the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET), a non-profit organization that provides a relative energy use index called HERS that ranges from 100, which represents the energy use of the “American standard building,” to zero, which indicates that the building uses no net purchased energy.

Involved with RESNET since the early 1990s, Robinson evaluates houses and buildings for residential and commercial clients. He received training from RESNET, and uses its software — and the additional equipment he has purchased — to evaluate buildings . “It's a way to diagnose a building and [determine] verifiable energy use before and after the changes we recommend,” Robinson says.

A blower door test evaluates a home's airtightness.
courtesy The Journal of Light Construction A blower door test evaluates a home's airtightness.

“More people are calling about audits,” Robinson says. “People know they are [potentially] throwing away a lot of money [in wasted energy expenses].”

Using a depressurizing test, commonly known as a “blower door” test, Robinson can identify leaks in the thermal envelope. “The two biggest energy drains in a home are leaking ductwork and air infiltration,” he says.

When building additions, Robinson uses recycled cellulose insulation, low-E glass windows, and efficient HVAC equipment. “Many times, the customer does not need to buy additional HVAC equipment to heat and cool the room because of how tight we build it,” he says.

References to energy audits are included on his business cards, literature, and phone book ad. And, he says, “We will probably kick [energy audit references] up a notch next year.”

Since the product has become more reasonably priced, Robinson recently purchased a handheld thermal imaging camera that has an infrared display to help diagnose leaks.