What is an Energy Auditor?
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An energy auditor, also known as an energy rater, is a specialized consultant who helps improve the energy efficiency of both residential and commercial buildings. As part of the “green" energy business sector, a career as an energy auditor presents 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.
How to Become an Energy Auditor
What does an Energy Auditor do?
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 auditors provide clients with actionable, real-world advice that can save hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars annually. Energy auditors 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.
Energy auditors conduct hands-on tests in order to determine the source of poor energy efficiency. Conducting a blower-door test is one of the most common home inspections that are performed. This test uses a specialized blower fan to alter the air pressure inside an enclosed structure. First, energy auditors 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 any air leaks.
A more technical test performed by energy auditors 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 colours. Typically, red and yellow colours signify a higher temperature than darker shades. By using a thermal monitoring device, energy auditors can determine which areas of a structure demand attention.
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How to Become an Energy Auditor
Employers usually seek energy auditors who have a high school diploma or some training in the field and who are BPI (Building Performance Institute) certified. BPI's building analyst certification is the basic level of certification for energy auditors. Passing this exam identifies an individual as being able to perform comprehensive home energy audits and identify solutions to energy problems based on building science.
Typically, energy auditor training programs are offered by schools that operate departments focusing on work training programs or have in-house workforce development centres. Programs include lectures and hands-on training on how to conduct home energy audits and use computerized energy audit software programs. Other topics include building science, energy conservation strategies, building assessments, diagnosing air leaks, water heating, thermal imaging, blower door testing and calculating heat loss.
Although the majority of employers seek candidates with training and experience in the field, some seek candidates who possess an associate's or bachelor's degree in building science, building construction technology or a related field. Associate's degree programs in building science typically require two years of study. These programs include classes in topics like construction materials, CAD documentation and construction math. Bachelor's degree programs in these fields, which normally require four years to complete, include classes in commercial construction technology, building law and building equipment.
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 and scientific analysis.
What is the workplace of an Energy Auditor like?
Energy auditing involves plenty of physical activity. A large number of energy auditors 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 some energy auditors, traveling across the country and consulting on a wide variety of structures is a possibility.