Your Home is a System.
I like to think of it as an eco-system in fact. The sun rises in the morning with the flip of a switch, the ocean tides rise and lower from the faucet and plug, and a cool breeze from the central air conditioner can keep you comfortable on a hot day. The measurable action of our home’s eco-system is what we call Home Performance. But just as a natural eco-system works, if the elements are NOT in unison, they can easily collapse! For our homes, this can cause poor performance. Poor performance can lead to health and safety, indoor air quality, comfort issues… AND could cost a lot of money! How do we change and/or prevent this from happening in your home!?
Understand Your Home’s Energy Us.
So, let’s start with the basics of Home Performance. We can break it down into 4 categories:
What are the sections that make up a home? There is a roof and foundation, walls of course, windows, and doors. These building items are what we call the home’s “envelope”. This envelope seals the sanctuary of our home’s system in place and helps control our homes performance.
Ever hear a buzz from the basement or closet and then, all the sudden, hot or cold air starts blowing from the vents? Is it magic? NO, that’s your heating and cooling equipment (often referred to as HVAC or Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning)! This could be a furnace, air conditioner, or one of many other types of heating and cooling equipment. Other mechanicals that your home uses include ventilation, electrical, and plumbing systems.
Do you live in Tucson Arizona or Grand Rapid Michigan? Do you get blazing sunshine, an abundance of snow, or are you somewhere in the middle? Depending on which area you may be in, the effects of the outside environment on your home may vary. This makes a big difference in what you need out of your home’s performance and how the system of your home should be designed and function to give you, the homeowner, the best possible results!
You are in control of your home. You set the thermostat, start the dishwasher, and forgot to close the window last night! How you directly interact with your home will affect the level of its performance.
These 4 categories work in an “interacting relationship”. A change to one category can affect all the others or the entire system of your home! So what is the best place to start identifying the condition or our home’s system?
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Home Energy Score™
This is the easiest, most affordable, and reputable way to begin to understand your home’s current level of performance! Its main function is to “Score” your home on a 1-10 scale effectively giving your home the equivalent of a Miles Per Gallon rating. In addition, the report will give you details on your estimated energy costs, provide recommendations for cost-effective improvements, and estimated savings if improvements are performed in both energy costs and in carbon emissions!
A Home Energy Score is performed by certified professionals and can be completed in a home within 30-60 minutes. Many home inspectors across the country are certified to provide a Home Energy Score with their inspections. The home inspection is a great time to get a Home Energy Score so you can understand immediately, when you begin living in your home, what strengths and weaknesses its performance may have!
Improve Your Homes Energy.
The first step is to understand your behaviors in the home. Where can you improve? Making sure lighting, appliances, and electronic devices are unplugged or turned off when not in use. Keeping your thermostat set at consistent and appropriate level. Using less hot water. These are all small things you can be in control of and improve just by how you interact with your home.
But how do you make a BIG impact? Don’t let the door-to-door window salesman fool you! Although windows do have an impact, it is often other issues like air sealing, duct leakage, poor insulation, or old and un-maintained equipment. Getting a Home Energy Score™ will show you simply yet precisely where your home is having issues and what solutions will be the most cost effective for your home. Your Certified Assessor can assist you in finding local incentives through your utilities for making home performance improvements in your home and help locate qualified contractors who can design and install the right equipment for your home!