Energy auditors, also known as energy raters, are specialized consultants who help improve the energy efficiency of structures of all sizes. Energy auditors can work on the residential level or the commercial level, plying their trade for homeowners and business owners alike.
As part of the “green" energy business sector, careers as energy raters present ample opportunities for advancement over the coming decade. As a matter of fact, a large number of energy industry analysts anticipate that the alternative energy sector will continue to expand at a much faster pace than expected.
Energy consumers as a whole are becoming increasingly environmentally conscious, which has created a comfortable niche market in which energy auditors can earn a living. A bigger driving factor in the business of energy auditing is the rising cost of energy, primarily residential electricity costs. Similar to the average price of gas, the price of electricity has been on an upward trajectory for the last few decades.
Energy raters and auditors provide clients with actionable, real-world advice that can save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars annually. Providing individuals and businesses with a means of reducing the cost of energy is the hallmark quality of energy auditors around the world.
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Energy raters are essentially building inspectors who provide consultations on energy efficiency. The heating and cooling system of a structure degrades over time if not properly maintained. In other instances, factors unrelated to the integrity of a heating and cooling system can cause buildings to become less energy efficient.
In the real world, energy auditors conduct hands-on tests in order to determine the source of this poor energy efficiency. The types of test performed depend on the knowledge of the energy rater and his or her occupational proficiency.
Conducting a blower-door test is one of the most common home inspections that energy raters perform. This test encompasses using a specialized blower fan to alter the air pressure inside an enclosed structure.
First, energy raters completely close all exterior openings to a building except the opening where the blower fan operates. The blower fan essentially creates a vacuum within the structure, causing exterior air to seep back into the structure. Using a variety of tools and techniques, energy auditors then inspect the structure in search of sources of air leaks.
A more technical test performed by highly advanced energy raters consists of the use of a thermal infrared camera to analyze the amount of heat a building accumulates. Thermal infrared devices allow minor differences in ambient heat to appear via a camera monitor as shades of bright and dark colors. Typically, red and yellow colors signify a higher temperature than darker shades displayed by a thermal infrared camera. By using a thermal monitoring device, energy raters can determine which areas of a structure demand the most attention.
Energy auditors may also conduct thorough inspections of a building's insulation system in addition to analyzing a building's heating and cooling system. This approach provides energy raters another method to increase the energy efficiency of structures large and small.
The education requirements for a career as an energy rater are broad. Those interested in this career path may require no advanced education at all, but often the minimum requirement is a two-year associate's degree or a bachelor's degree in a related field. On-the-job experience in the construction industry is an invaluable asset to possess, too.
Those interested in pursuing a career as industrial-scale energy auditors should obtain a degree in civil and environmental engineering, but other alternate paths exists that are related to engineering, such as architecture. Three schools with highly regarded degree programs well suited for a career as an energy rater include the University of Texas, The University of Toronto, and the University of Illinois.
Energy auditing involves plenty of physical activity. A large number of energy raters are self-employed small-business owners who conduct on-site inspections several times a day. This day-to-day activity may consist of entering attics or even walking on roofs in order to provide a thorough consultation.
Industrial-scale auditors often work out of a large office, coordinating test results with a team of civil engineers. For the upper echelon of energy raters, traveling across the country and consulting on a wide variety of structures is a very distinct possibility.
Careers in energy auditing are one of the fastest-growing energy consulting jobs in the United States and Canada. As the demand for energy auditing services increases over the next decade, the job description of energy auditors will surely narrow to encompass even more technical, scientific analysis.
The compensation scale of energy auditors increases with the amount of education an individual has obtained. Self-employed contractors may earn as much as $30,000 annually, but entrepreneurs who grow a small business may earn significantly more.
Entry-level compensation for industrial-scale auditors is on par with the pay of first-time engineers and architects. Depending on the size of the consulting firm, auditors may earn as little as $40,000 annually and as much as $80,000 as they progress in their careers.
Careers in energy auditing will continue to present tremendous opportunities for people interested in joining the energy industry. As grow continues to accelerate, these opportunities will only become more financially lucrative over the foreseeable future.