I saw a few posts about BPI and becoming a certified energy analyst. For those you are certified, I’m curious what is your experience so far? Can anyone recommend a training affiliate (CA)? I did the math and it is over $1,500 to get certified and a few thousand dollars more to purchase the equipment. I’m just wondering if there are enough clients out there to justify the large expenses? Also, what type of software if any is used to create reports for clients? Thanks!
Almost no real clients (consumers who actually want and are willing to pay for the service) IMHO. The only way this pig will fly is with government subsidies.
Wait a while. You’ll be able to get an audit for $100. Many retrofit contractors offer them for free now.
Neither of these posts are 100% accurate. Yes Nick is correct that government money is a huge help. BPI and Resnet were around long before ARRA funds entered the market. The two largest energy auditing companies in the US do not solely focus on stimulus money. There are a multitude of other reasons why consumers do audits.
Linus’s comment is one of the more common ones I see as to why not to do the audits. What most people do not realize is the free and cheap audits are often part of a larger plan. In the case of his comment it is a retrofit contractor that is looking to do weatherization upgrades. Why not be the auditor that provides retrofit contractors these leads? Many remodeling/retrofit contractors sub this out because it can be a conflict of interest. The $99 or $149 or free audits are usually backed by a power company and the auditor is getting much more than the $99/$149/Free. There are a couple of reasons why they are motivated to do this. First, there are laws in place where power companies have to lower their consumption by 2025. All of them are way behind schedule on this. It is 15 years away and a ton has to be done by then. The second one, and probably the biggest reason, is that it is cheaper for a power company to lower consumption rather than expand or upgrade their grid. Upgrading grids is a multi trillion dollar task that has to be addressed somehow over the coming years. It is better for a power company to write a ton of PPA agreements and do a solar installation than to upgrade their grid. Putting solar on a structure that is not energy efficient is a waist, hence the need for energy auditors. This kind of goes back to another thread on here where solar was being argued. It is not as simple as taking the cost of solar then figuring the pay back period. Many other things happen due to alt energy. Would you rather break even on your solar system, or pay the higher cost of power after all the utilities upgrade their grids? When considering this industry you have to really look at where the other benefits are through cause and effect and more importantly who gains by those effects. Those “gainers” are your potential customers.
I think many people have the mentality of build it and they will come and that is just not the case in energy auditing or infrared. I think that is why we see such a huge discrepancy in posts where an individual is doing great in IR or energy auditing and others wish they never got in to it. The marketing behind either of these fields should be done through education of the consumer instead of hitting the consumer over and over and trying to brand a name.
Or you can invest $1500 in a module (no blower door or CO /combustion analyzer equipment necessary) and do them for$299](http://www.energyscanir.com/).
Jason, I agree with you 100%. I think the main issue with doing this is just the cost of setting it up? It’s rather steep considering there probably will not be much business coming in at the start. But I can see this becoming an important area for homeowners not too far down the road…specially in CA. In fact where I live, if I remember correctly the city provides a free energy audit to existing homeowners.
Linas, that is a good idea…can also be added to a regular home inspection for an extra $50-100 fee for those who are interested?
Yep, they have to give them away.
I also am not convinced that the BPI or RESNET mode will be the defacto standard.
ASHRAE, which already has quite a powerful lobby, has been around for eons, and whose ranks include PEs in mechanical engineering, are not convinced.
One final thing, fellow inspectors…
Please read your state laws regarding the definition of Professional Engineering. It often uses verbiage including “calculations” and “analysis”. Please review the requirements that BPI and Resnet have put forward, and ask yourself if this cannot be construed as the practice of professional engineering. I think it does, especially as only a PE can determine the adequacy of a system, from a technical standpoint. When you introduce a blower door and manometer into the equasion, I think you have crossed the line.
So… my advice is to be careful what you wish for.
Joe…My carpet guy makes calculations when he determines the square footage of my living room. A journeyman heating and air technician analyzes my furnace combustion and calculates what adjustments he must make to improve efficiency. My auto mechanic interprets from his “engine analyzer” which plug is not firing properly and affects the change. Home inspectors calculate the thickness of existing insulationand analyze if it meets the standard for that part of the country. The high school cafeteria supervisor calculates, daily, how many potatoes she needs to peel to provide mashed potatoes to 1000 students…then analyzes the dietary needs of the students as she plans (and calculates) future preparations. The Cub Scout Den Mother calculates how many popsicle sticks she needs to provide 11 scouts to build one bird house, each.
Frankly, it is difficult for me to think of a profession…including the cash register clerk at the grocery store…that does not require some varying degree of “calculation”. All who calculate…electricians, baseball statisticians, marketing managers…use their calculations for analysis so that they, or some other person, can interpret from them what future actions may be necessary.
I disagree with you that the Engineering profession has ownership of the activities of “calculate” and “analyze”.
The history of energy efficiency analysis is not a good one…primarily due to the lack of standards. Millions of private and government dollars were used to install new windows which we know to do very, very little in affecting the use of energy in the home. Insulation was installed over air leaks which did nothing to conserve energy, but merely “filtered” the escaping conditioned air. Now, guys are running around aiming IR cameras at different things…interpreting the images in various ways…and calling this process an “energy audit”.
Thus far, according to ANSI, BPI and RESNet are the only organizations to provide a measurable standard and who enforce it. The calculations that are done are nothing more that what the contractor who installs insulation…or the HVAC tech who installs an air conditioning unit…should be doing.
The warnings should be issued to home inspectors who are NOT BPI or RESNet certified and who are selling their own versions of “energy audits” with no standards, no certification, and no quantifiable data used in recommending air sealing without knowing how it will affect the combustion of gas/oil appliances being used in the home.
As a general contractor I have to make many calculations to build a house, from how much concrete is needed for the foundation to how many shingles it will take to cap the ridge.
I’ve never had a problem.
I am a Certified HERS Rater and I am making more money right now doing ENERGY STAR and Green Certifications on new construction than I am from Home Inspections.
From the NY State Website:
The practice of engineering means any service or work, the performance of which requires engineering education, training, and experience in the application of engineering knowledge and data, and the application of special knowledge of the mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences to services such as:
- ***Consultation ***
- *Investigation *
- *Evaluation *
- *Planning *
- *Design of engineering works and systems *
- *Engineering surveys *
- *Oversight for the purposes of determining if work is proceeding in compliance with drawings and specifications *
The above listed items may embrace such services or work, either public or private, in connection with any utilities, structures, buildings, machines, equipment, processes, work systems, projects, and industrial or consumer products or equipment of a mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, pneumatic, chemical, or thermal nature, insofar as they involve safeguarding life, health, or property; and includes such other professional services as may be necessary to the planning, progress, and completion of any engineering services.
A licensed professional engineer (PE) evaluates, plans, designs, supervises, and/or consults on the construction or operation of:
- *utilities *
- *houses, office buildings, shopping centers, roads, bridges, etc. *
- *machines and equipment *
*. . . and other projects and processes which require the application of **engineering principles and data to safeguard people *and property. Individuals, government agencies and private companies employ professional engineers.
So my question becomes one of the application of building sciences, heating, air conditioning, and ventilation and affect and are affected by the conforming envelope of the structure. Further, it is the application of engineering principals as they apply to the various appliances installed in the dwelling, the manipulation of the environment in the testing and evaluation process (using specific, non-installed machinery, controls, and measurement devices), and includes the examination of sufficient drafting of gas-fired appliances and their possible direct effect on life and property.
Can anyone deny this? It is not calculating and analyzing in a mamby-pamby way. The craft requires specific training to be certified in the art. It requires specialized machinery, and involves specific calculations.
I think … unless you feel that homeowners converting from electric to gas water heaters must actually, first, hire an engineer to determine sufficient air flow through the chimney and sufficient quantity of combustion air … your theory defies practicality.
I agree with James.
If you were to replace a boiler or convert a electric hot water heater to gas you wouldn’t need an engineer.
You are correct… but please familiarize yourself with the BPI evaluation process. Look at all the components, the training, the equipment, the calcs.
Be careful what you wish for…
As BPI has set itself up as the defacto standard for performing these audits, and you must get trained/certified through their program, it will be a short matter of time until they are challenged.
Joe you make some very interesting points.
I suspect they may get challenged but is it worth it for an engineer to go after $300-$500 energy audits??? These would be way below their pay scale.
Also, I think this whole issue would be re-challanged because these standards are and have been used by state weatherization groups for a long time.
I compare this to the thermal imaging patent that was brought up last year.
Your last two sentences drive home my entire point. Weatherization companies have been doing audits for years PRIOR TO EXCLUSIVE EDUCATION AND CERTIFICATION BY AN ORGANIZATION THAT NOW CLAIMS TO OCCUPY THE FIELD.
Mark my words… the BPI process will be challenged by ASHRAE (who are made up of thousands of PEs). If ASHRAE somehow loses the argument, they will enforce long-standing rules at the state level prohibiting the practice by anyone but an licensed engineer.
Engineers already have a dislike for many inspectors, and all we do are non-invasive, non-engineering inspections. Just imagine when they really catch wind of this…
Once someone inserts any device intended to alter existing conditions (such as a blower door and manometer), that person has enter the realm of engineering. This practice differs from turning on an attic fan, as it is specific for the purpose, is equipped with a measurement device and means to control the fan, and is intended to create a cntrolled environment specific to testing purposes by either pressurizing or de-pressurizing the structure.
What makes matters worse is that BPI has positioned its methods as the SOLE means to perform an audit. And this is where we will be faced with a problem.
I think the root of your misunderstanding can be found in the last sentence of your last post, Joe.
BPI is NOT the sole means to perform an audit.
What BPI has done is taken one part of the audit, as it pertains to air sealing and combustion air requirements, and developed a certification process whereby those they certify have demonstrated (both, by written test and a field examination) that they can conduct the tests in a safe manner that will not harm people or property. Just last week, RESNet adopted the same standard…which is a protocol almost identical to the one that ICC published in its Fuel Code.
Since no one else has developed a certification process such as this, BPI certification and protocol is naturally favored above anyone else.
My state certifies energy auditors and will certify people who are either certified by BPI or … and the “or” is very important to this conversation … anyone who is trained and certified by another agency applying the same or similar standard.
BPI and RESNet, today, are the only ones…but the government’s preference is for the protocol and will recognize other certifications. They just don’t exist, yet.
Even engineers who are enrolling in classes and testing for this certification are failing either the written or field exam. This protocol is not taught in any college engineering curriculum. The instructor who did my field exam told me that engineers have the hardest time getting certified due to the field exam requirement…where they have to actually demonstrate their abilities to inspect a house, report what they found, account for it in their calculations, and to properly operate the equipment. Engineers are pros with slide rules and calculators…but when it comes to tying their own shoes, many rely upon penny loafers, I’m afraid.