About Home Performance
This Department of Energy diagram shows how home performance is largely driven by unintentional air flows. Most insulation companies simply cover air leaks with fiberglass that does nothing to stop heat from escaping with flowing air. Home Performance Contractors strategically seal air infiltration points to optimize energy efficiency, air quality and comfort.
Not business as usual
The vast majority of energy services provided to Washington homeowners consist of product sales and installation. We are led to believe that if we just have enough efficient products, our house will function well.
For someone wanting a more efficient home, it certainly seems reasonable to put in some insulation and buy a high efficiency furnace. However,
- Did you know that up to 30% of the heat from your furnace may leak into your attic or crawl space without ever reaching your registers?
- Did you know that insulation alone does not prevent heat from escaping as air rises through unsealed ceiling penetrations like recessed lights?
- Did you know that even large and well regarded HVAC sales companies use a rule-of thumb based on square footage alone that almost always leads to the installation of an oversized furnace?
- Did you know that a right-sized standard furnace through sealed and insulated ducts may actually be more efficient than an oversized ENERGY STAR® furnace operating through untreated ducts?
- Did you know that though large and respected Windows vendors "guarantee" a 40% energy savings from replacing windows, energy audit reports typically indicate that less than 20% of your heat is lost through the windows you already have?
Your house as a system
A house is composed of various parts. Some of the parts, such as the heating system, use energy. Other parts, such as walls, serve to conserve energy. Many parts of a house have more than one function. Windows let daylight in while keeping cold air out.
The various parts of a house do not function in isolation, but interact in complex ways. The effectiveness of a furnace in heating a home, for example, depends on the effectiveness of the home’s insulation. The effectiveness of the insulation, in turn, depends on how much air leakage occurs through the home’s surfaces. These interactions between parts of a house can negatively affect its comfort, indoor air quality, and energy efficiency. The study of these interactions is called building science.
Home Performance Contractors
Home performance contractors are trained in the principles of building science and use specialized tools and instruments to diagnose and fix problems with a home’s comfort, air quality and energy efficiency. Because these problems are often caused by the complex interactions described above, their solution is beyond the scope of most contractors, who specialize in only one component of a house.
Home Performance Retrofits
Home performance retrofits involves modifications to existing homes to address problems of comfort, air quality and energy efficiency. The process begins with a home performance audit, including measurements of air leakage, insulation levels, furnace and water heater efficiency, and so forth. Data collected during the audit is analyzed to determine the home’s deficiencies. A plan is then devised to fix specific problems and to improve the home’s overall performance.
A complete retrofit may require modifications to more than one component of the house, due to the interactions described above, but these can be implemented sequentially as time and budget allow. The most cost-effective steps are usually performed first. When completed, the retrofit home is more evenly comfortable, has better indoor air quality, has reduced risk of mold and mildew, is less expensive to heat and cool, and makes a smaller environmental footprint.
To get started on your home performance retrofit,