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FAQs

 

What is the difference between an audit and an assessment

An audit is a comprehensive analysis of a home, including the use of a blower door and testing of all combustion appliances to identify energy efficiency and safety issues.  An "assessment" is not necessarily the same as an audit. In many cases, an assessment may be nothing more than a general walk-thru review of traditional practices without having a certified auditor actually conduct tests on your home.

How do I know who’s qualified to conduct an energy audit

An auditor who is a certified BPI Building Analyst, or a HERS Rater who has been certified in combustion safety testing, meet the qualification standards to conduct a comprehensive audit.

What is a Blower Door

A Blower Door is a testing device installed in an exterior door frame to simulate the effect of a 20 mph wind against the side of your home by pulling air out of your house, lowering the pressure inside.  The higher outside air pressure then flows in through all unsealed openings. The test will reveal the air infiltration rate, meaning how much air flows freely into and out of your home.  For more on the Blower Door, Click here

What is conditioned air

The air you pay for to heat or cool your home is conditioned air.

What are air leaks or a “Leaky Home”

Leaks in a home are a two-way flow of air allowing interior air to exit your home and exterior air to enter. Leaks are present in many forms such as unsealed pipes or wires exiting your exterior walls or entering the attic, unsealed window & door frames, spaces in attic floors, rim joists, and knee walls. For more on Leaks, Click here

Why do bath fans or recessed lighting leak

Leaks are found if there is inadequate air sealing around the openings made to install the appliances.

What is a Duct Blaster

A Duct Blaster is a testing device used to pressure test the duct system for leaks.  An auditor certified in using a Duct Blaster can use duct leakage measurements to diagnose and demonstrate leakage problems, estimate efficiency losses from leakage found, and make recommendations to improve the efficiency of the duct systemFor Duct Blaster testing, Click Here

What is a Thermal Boundary

A thermal boundary is a plane where the insulation, exterior walls, and attic floor (and sometimes attic space) that enclose your interior living space exist to resist air leakage (the transmittance of hot or cool air); also referred to as the Thermal Envelope or Building Shell.

What is an Air Barrier

Any part of a home’s thermal boundary that stops air flow. Drywall, OSB (similar to plywood), foamboard, poly films such as Tyvek, and sealants such as closed-cell foam and caulk is considered an Air Barrier.

What is a rim joist

The rim joist is the outermost framing around the perimeter of a floor or ceiling; also referred to as a Band Joist. The rim joist can most easily be seen at the ceiling of an unfinished basement and is often unsealed in homes over 20 years old, allowing air to flow freely.

What is ASHRAE 62.2 – 2010

ASHRAE is the national standard required to achieve acceptable indoor ventilation & air quality for building occupants’ health & safety. To meet the standards, it allows the use of exhaust fans or supplies to achieve balanced ventilation based on a combination of floor space and number of bedrooms. ASHRAE is the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers, an independent, non-governmental, organization whose guidelines are accepted by all accredited building standards agencies.

Can a home be too tight

No. Like a commercial building, a tight home allows control of your indoor environment.  With control, you can manage your home's ventilation for optimal performance. ASHRAE 62.2 provides the national standard for indoor ventilation which ensures your home meets a safe level of air flow. In a tight home, meeting ASHRAE's standards can be accomplished with the addition of mechanical measures such as continuous ventilation fans or exhaust fans as needed. When in control of what air comes and goes from your home you'll be equipped to achieve optimal savings, comfort, health, and safety.

What is R-Value

The R-value is a measure of thermal resistance, the higher the R-value the more it will resist the transfer of heat.

What is the best type of insulation

For existing homes, we consider each home is a unique building and because construction designs vary, it depends on desired return on investment, access to areas to install insulation and many other factors.  There is no silver bullet.  Therefore, the only way to determine the best insulation solution is to conduct a comprehensive audit and weigh all possible options based on the results of the audit.

What is Infrared Testing

Also known as Thermography, Infrared DiagnosisThermal Imaging, and IR, Infrared Testing is a testing protocol we conduct in very much the same way a doctor uses an x-ray to diagnose a problem not readily visible on the surface.  The IR tool illustrates heating & cooling gains and losses in a temperature based color palette that allows a trained professional to diagnose specific problem areas within your home in difficult to reach areas such as inside walls, behind walls, around windows and other locations. For more on Infrared Testing, Click here

What is Right Sizing

Right Sizing is the measurement of a home’s living space combined with an energy model of the home to determine the proper size of heating & cooling system for a home to ensure both comfort & energy efficiency.

What temperature settings are recommended for winter & summer

The temperature settings in your home are entirely up to you, after your home has been retrofitted for maximum efficiency. If your home is operating at optimal efficiency, it’s possible you will set your thermostat lower in the winter and higher in the summer than you’re used to because your heating & air conditioning systems will not have to work as hard to provide consistent comfort in your home.

What are combustion appliances

Combustion appliances are any appliance that is powered by natural gas or propane such as a furnace, kitchen range, fireplace, water heater, or pool heater.

Why do you check for carbon monoxide

For homes with combustion appliances installed, it is extremely important to check for carbon monoxide since it is a by-product of the gas burning process.  If dangerous levels are found, they can be addressed to prevent illness or even death as a result of inhaling the odorless carbon monoxide gas.  We also recommend the installation of carbon monoxide detectors on each floor of a home with combustion appliances or an attached garage.

What’s the difference between Solar PV and Solar Thermal

One uses photo voltaic panels (Solar PV) to produce electricity for a home. Solar Thermal is a system specifically designed for water heating.

What is Passive Solar

A passive solar home is designed to take advantage of the sun’s energy incorporating windows, walls, and floors to collect, store and distribute solar energy in the form of heat in the winter and prevent infiltration of solar heat in the summer. Also integral to the passive system are shading and insulation measures. It’s passive because it does not involve the use of mechanical or electrical devices.

What is Net Zero

A home that produces its own energy onsite without relying on outside sources of electric or gas fuels is considered Net Zero.  Because the 2 most common onsite energy sources are solar and wind power, a net zero home may also have zero carbon emissions.  Closely related to net zero is net metering in which a home relies on an alternative energy source such as solar as the primary energy source. During times of low energy use, excess energy produced by the solar electric system is sent back to the utility grid for a credit. And during peak times when the solar electric system cannot produce enough energy, energy can be retrieved temporarily from the conventional electric grid. The tradeoff between the two energy sources typically results in the homeowner’s net result being zero energy cost because they usually produce more energy onsite than they need to obtain from the utility.

Are CFLs a good or bad choice

We believe CFLs (Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs) are a better choice compared to conventional incandescent light bulbs. They save you money because they use 70-80% less energy to operate and you won’t have to replace bulbs as often because they last more than twice as long as conventional bulbs.  CFLs also produce far less heat, meaning your air conditioner won’t have to compensate to offset the heat produced by incandescent bulbs, thus adding to your savings.  There are a lot of opinions regarding the safety of CFLs, but the facts are that yes, CFLs contain mercury, however, the amount would fit on the tip of a ballpoint pen.  And if they end up in a landfill, the amount deposited is 4-5 times less than the amount emitted by an electric production facility to produce power for an incandescent light bulb over its lifetime.

What is Retrofitting

An energy conservation measure that is applied to an existing home such as air sealing, adding insulation, and new appliances, to improve energy efficiency and interior comfort.

What is SIR

A SIR is the Savings-To-Investment-Ratio. It is a measurement how many times an energy retrofit measure pays for itself during its lifetime.

What is an Energy Star home

To earn the ENERGY STAR designation, a home must meet strict guidelines for energy efficiency set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. These homes are at least 15% more energy efficient than homes built to the 2004 International Residential Code (IRC), and include additional energy-saving features such as air sealing, insulation, and Energy Star appliances that typically make them 20–30% more efficient than other homes. For more on Energy Star, Click Here

What is BPI

The Building Performance Institute, Inc. (BPI) is an independent, non-governmental, national standards development and credentialing organization for residential energy efficiency and retrofit work. BPI brings together leading building science experts to develop standards using a consensus-based methodology. BPI offers professional training and certification examinations on the assessment and upgrade of residential buildings to ensure work adheres to BPI’s nationwide technical standards. For more on BPI, Click Here

What is RESNET

The Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) is an independent, non-governmental, organization who sets standards recognized by the federal government for verification of building energy performance for such programs as federal tax incentives, the Environmental Protection Agency's ENERGY STAR program and the U.S. Department of Energy's Building America Program. RESNET standards are also recognized by the U.S. mortgage industry for capitalizing a building's energy performance in the mortgage loan. It also provides professional training and certification examinations on the assessment of residential buildings to ensure work adheres to RESNET’s nationwide technical standards. For more on RESNET, Click here

What is a HERS Index or Home Energy Rating

The HERS Index is a scoring system established by RESNET (Residential Energy Services Network) based on comparing homes built to the specifications of the HERS Reference Home. The HERS Reference Home is considered a new home built today that meets the minimum standards of the 2004 International Energy Conservation Code. For more on the HERS Index, Click Here

What is LEED for Homes

The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) is an independent, non-governmental, organization promoting Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED). LEED for Homes is a rating system designed under the guidance of the USGBC and its advisory board to promote standards for the design and construction of high-performance green homes. For more on LEED for Homes, Click here