HERS ENERGY COMPLIANCE TESTING AND REGISTRATION

Building Energy Compliance Testing’s qualified HERS raters offer a variety of energy efficiency services. We serve the San Francisco Bay Area building industry for both commercial and residential buildings. Our services include: duct leakage tests, blower door tests, room by room airflow tests, refrigerant charge tests, total airflow tests, and fan watt draw tests. We also provide verification of existing conditions reports, registration, consulting and assistance with building healthy, comfortable and high performance buildings. We are fully qualified to provided Home Energy Ratings, Green Point Ratings, and California energy code and Calgreen. Which are required HVAC load calculations, Manual J, duct design Manual D and equipment selection Manual S.

Blower Door: Tool to Air Seal Homes

Things Our Clients Said Today

Green Point Rating - BECT

CalGreen 2016 Non Res

CalGreen 2016 for Homes

Energy/Fire Update

HERS TESTING – DUCT TEST & REGISTRATION

We provide the full range of state required testing and registration for alterations. These alterations include new HVAC as well as additions, new construction and duct testing.

BUILD IT GREEN – GREEN POINT RATING

Green Point Ratings (GPRs) are similar to LEED rating systems but most Bay Area Cities choose GPRs. GPRs verify a level of green construction measures such as: resource conservation measures and proof of use of materials without formaldehyde, VOCs and other unhealthy compounds.

Which air filter should I be using in my home's furnace/Air Con system? 9/8/18

I want to get the smoke out of the air where my children live. I want lower energy bills.

This is the question for health and measured performance. What difference does it make? Apparently, having a lower pressure drop across the air filter yields more airflow and less wattage used by the motor, (hopefully a permanent magnet, electronically cummutated motor of the right size.)

At BECT, designing duct systems, the most challenging data to find is the pressure drop across filters, “Y”s, evaporator coils, register boots, start collars, ducts, plenums and grills. Once we have all that data we input it to Wrightsoft software and we can prove/know/model the performance of the airflow. Without all those we are making educated guesses, hopefully correct.

Many of the components of a duct system are difficult to find pressure drop numbers for. Knowing that, we can eliminate variables and work with what we know to be true by specifying low pressure drop components. Oversized evaporator coils, up-sized return ducts and proven air filters matched to filter boxes with lo-resistance grills fit that bill.

Below is a note from 3M to a user about their filters and how much other manufacturers’ filters rate RE: MERV and pressure drop in inches of water column. This is critical data when designing a high performance duct system.

SUMMARY: The Ultra Allergen 1500MPR (for 1 inch depth HVAC) is the LOWEST pressure at 0.15 (vs .20 for the MPR 600). So it didn’t make sense for me to go for MPR 300, MPR 600 or MPR 1000.

The complete response from 3M below:

Generally speaking, for most residential HVAC systems, the filter will become restrictive when it reaches a .5 pressure drop.

All of our filter media fibers are polypropylene and polyolefin plastic which will remove particles that measure 3 to 10 microns.

Microparticle Performance Rating (MPR), MERV Ratings, and pressure drops are as follows:

Elite Extra 2400

3-10 microns – 96%

MERV 13

pressure drop .21

Elite Allergen 2200

3-10 microns – 94%

MERV 12

pressure drop .18

Maximum/Ultimate Allergen 1900

3-10 microns – 93%

MERV 12

pressure drop .16

Allergen Deep Pleat 1550 (4″).

3-10 microns 97%

MERV 12

pressure drop .12

Ultra Allergen 1500

310 microns – 90%

MERV 12

pressure drop .15

Odor Reduction 1200

3-10 microns – 85%

MERV 11

pressure drop .24

Micro Allergen 1000

3-10 microns – 80%

MERV 11

pressure drop .21

Dust & Pollen 600

3-10 microns – 65%

MERV 7

pressure drop .20

Dust Reduction 300

3-10 microns -35%

MERV 6

pressure drop .20

Flat Panel

3-10 microns -5%

MERV 1

Pressure Drop .08

Pressure drop is a measure of air flow resistance. It is measured by inches of Water Column (W.C.) at 300 feet per minute (FPM).

Clean/new filters are not restrictive to air flow. Filters will become restrictive if they are not changed when needed. A filter’s life is actually determined by the user’s living conditions and will vary for every user. Generally speaking, we recommend changing filters approximately every 3 mo nths.

To determine when the filter needs to be change, we suggest holding it up to the light. When you cannot see light through the filter, it is ready to be changed, even if it is before 3 months.

If you are concerned about airflow, you might want to use the filter with a lower pressure drop.

If you have a high velocity furnace with high fan speed, you may need to change the filters more frequently, every 1.5 to 2 months.”

Compare the above when choosing filters. Doing so could be the difference between staying below .58 watts/CFM when doing Fan Watt Draw HERS tests. First you need the airflow to pass Total Airflow HERS test, then you need low watts from the motor to pass Fan/Watt Draw.

Register Sealing Before Having BECT Do A Duct Leakage Test 8/10/2018

Hello,

Please make sure that the registers are sealed as in the photo below, before BECT comes to test the system for duct leakage.

Seal the register boxes to drywall or hardwood floor with UL 181 aluminum tape as shown below.

pic 1

Aluminum Tape (must be UL 181)      

pic 2

 Register sealed to drywall with Al tape.

 

The photos below are examples of what the registers/returns should not look like

pic 3

Unsealed boot in drywall, on ceiling. This won’t hold air.

pic 4

Unsealed 1950s boot in hardwood floor, unsealed.

pic 5

1920s register boot, unsealed to plaster yet painted black.

Also, please make sure that your forced air unit set on the highest speed so that you can achieve 350 cfm/ton​ for the 1. Total Airflow Test and 2. The Fan/Watt Draw Test.

Also, don’t forget to drill a 1/4 inch hole in each side of the plenum (both supply plenum and return plenum) and mark the hole, HSSP, for Hole for Static Pressure Probe. Put aluminum tape over the hole but make sure marking is visible for HERS test. If those access holes are not there – you’ll need to do it at the test. They are so that someone can insert a probe on each side and see the difference in temperature and humidity changes before and after the air moves through the evaporator coil.

If you have any questions on how to seal it, we also have a video on our website detailing how to properly seal your ducts. Click this link here to watch the video, http://bect.us/videos/. You can also watch our other videos on energy efficiency in the home on BECT’s YouTube channel. Check it out here, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAd8LCb6fzHAkzqOu9loGrQ/videos?view_as=subscriber.

Stay cool and comfortable,

BECT

Dear CEC, Please Approve Wrightsoft Software For Alterations And Additions Compliance, (Title 24 Performance) 8/10/2018

Dear Commissioner McAllister,

I am writing to request that you to approve Wrightsoft software to perform title 24 energy compliance (performance) for residential alterations and additions in California.

I am told that the software is now able to perform compliance for new homes but not for alterations and additions, the far more common jobs found here in the San Francisco Bay Area.

I have been using Wrightsoft for the last year and am extremely impressed with it as a tool to perform load calculations, duct design and equipment selection. As a HERS rater I see failure to perform to code every day in the HVAC systems I test, with about 75% of them fail to move enough air in AC mode. Having HVAC systems be designed properly yields systems that perform to those design standards.

I understand that the CEC is now evaluating Wrightsoft. If that is so, I ask you to accelerate the evaluation and allow Wrightsoft to be used in title 24 compliance in alterations and additions.

It is my understanding that 1% of California residential HVAC changeouts get load calculations done. This must be why I see such wildly oversized air conditioning systems in my testing.

Here is what I’d like you to do to improve energy efficiency and efficacy in new/alterations in California,

  1. Allow Wrightsoft to be used for T24 compliance in Alterations and additions.
  2. Compel the Contractors State License Board to teach HVAC contractors to use load calculation software and that calculations, design and equipment selection is code required.
  3. Sponsor classes to teach HVAC contractors how to use load calculation/duct design software.
  4. Encourage title 24 consultants to use load calculation software and do both compliance and design.

Doing only compliance misses the greater point of creating heating/cooling/ventilation systems tailored to a particular house and actually achieving efficiency and performance. I see “T24 compliant” houses fail HERS tests every day.

If you need any help, please do not hesitate to call me.

Thanks for your help in creating an energy efficient economy in California.

Very truly yours,

George Matthews

Building Energy Compliance Testing www.bect.us Phone 510 520 4443

Walnut Creek, CA 94597

``Like Italy in the 1960s`` 10/31/2017

A lovely guest house in the country. Brand new, white, gleaming and beautiful. The owner is British. I tested the performance of her new HVAC system. It failed three HERS tests.

I explained to her each of the tests and why the system failed. The ducts leaked too much air. The system did not move enough air for the size of the air conditioner. Why? The return ducts are either too few or too small. The MERV 8 filter installed is restricting air flow so it should be bigger or perhaps there should be two of them. The 2017, airtight, well insulated 1500 square foot house with low e, argon dual pane windows doesn’t take much to heat or cool. How did it end up with a 3 ton AC and restricted, leaky ducts?

The homeowner told me that it was “like Italy in the 1960s.” A top-heavy bureaucracy well insulated from those doing the actual work or needing to get things done. The individual people are often brilliant, but people are not working together. Some were also incompetent.

We have a real problem in the SF Bay area with HVAC contractors installing air conditioning systems without following the CA energy code’s “Mandatory Measures”, nor CalGreen. Every day I test new systems that have not been sized and designed as per code requirements. This yields systems that use more energy and provide less comfort. This has a real effect on energy use in the SF Bay Area. These improperly designed system can last 30 years or more and will waste energy daily ’til near 2050 when they will fail.

California Title 24 Energy experts say that 1% of residential HVAC systems are properly calculated for sizing and have their ducts designed per the specs in Title 24. Only 10% get permitted and tested.

Of course, the Energy Commission did not make up these design specs. They use the Air Conditioner Contractor’s of America Manual J, Manual D and Manual S sizing, duct and register grill design specifications.

Sadly, there is no continuing education from the Contractors State License Board for HVAC contractors. Hence, they have no idea of what is in the California Energy Code or how to build comfort system that conform to it.

We are now in the 2016 energy code. Builders and HVAC contractors are nowhere near understanding what is in the current code or how to meet it. At the same time we are nearly 2 years away from the 2020 energy code when new buildings will be “Zero Net Energy”, meaning that houses will generate as much energy in a year as they use in a year. We have a lot of work to do to educate the building industry workforce in order to get up to speed with upcoming code changes.

Let’s fix this problem.  Just like engineers design our building so they stand up to earthquakes via code required structural design, let’s have our HVAC systems engineered per our energy code. We need to require building department design review first, before permitting these long lasting, energy using systems to get built.

CSLB and California local Building Departments, please get up to speed educating the building industry workforce and enforcing the energy code.

George Matthews, owner
Building Energy Compliance Testing
Serving the San Francisco Bay Area

How to Improve California's Energy Code 10/11/2017

Actually enforce it. 

 

We are only enforcing part of California’s science and engineering based set of rules about how we use energy in buildings.  

 

In our state, before we build buildings, the plans must pass a set of rules that state what must be done to pass code. 

 

CAL Green and the HVAC requirements clearly state these requirements. However, while the plans all pass energy code on paper, once in the field 99% of what happens is that HVAC systems are not sized, selected according to national engineering societies standards that have been recommended for half a century. 

 

Instead of using standard, accepted engineering software to size and select the furnaces and air conditioners, contractors size according to crude rules of thumb more appropriate in the Nixon administration.  

 

 

I was just in a custom house 30 minutes from Silicon Valley. It was 3500 square feet, beautiful and perfect. However, the HVAC contractor sized the air conditioning systems (two) to 375 square feet of house to a ton of air conditioning. This house has two four ton air conditioners. It also did not have enough airflow to satisfy either system. The contractor got the sizing wrong because he guessed at the duct and return sizes. The house is done and ready to sell but he now must cut more holes in the ceiling and install new cold air returns. There was not a speck of dust in this house and now it is time for little remodel of the dining rooms ceiling with all the dust it entails. 

 

This goes on every day. California energy specialists state that about 1% of CA house have their ducts, furnaces and air conditioners designed in approved software. Energy experts I ask say about 5 percent of CA systems get HERS tested.  

 

How to fix the problem. Enforce the CA energy code HVAC Mandatory Measures and CAL Green Requirements. It is so easy. Just like one submits drawings or engineering to building departments to prove that houses will stay standing in an earthquake, contractors will submit the plans for the equipment they install. 

 

The state provides free classes on how to use such software. However, the state should offer  

 

Here is how the improvement to many AC system 30 years old. These are long lasting systems. In consequence to their substandard design considerable energy is wasted. Properly sizing duct systems reduce callbacks to fix bad work like the contractor above. 

 

Guessed together systems also provide un-comfort and stop air filtration from happening properly. 

 

The great benefit of following the code is that HVAC systems then actually pass the HERS tests that are required. No trial and error remodels on brand new systems.  

 

California Building officials, what would it take to get you to require that HVAC contractors submit an approved plan generated from an approved method. Someone has to come up with the plans, otherwise the result is brand new air conditioning system failing energy performance tests. 

 

I know that if I had the power and the resources, I’d tell every building owner investing in new equipment/systems, general contractors responsible for their subs installing expensive capital equipment and the HVAC installers that they must produce a design before installation. 

 

This will guarantee that systems perform properly, and building owners and residents, perhaps you and your family get the comfort you have paid for. 

Letter To The California Energy Commission 5/19/17

Dear California Energy Commission, 

I’d like to let you know about some failures in the energy code system as I see it in the field as a HERS rater testing alterations of existing houses and new houses. 

I work from Silicon Valley to the Wine Country, up and down the Peninsula and in the East Bay Area. I am usually in two or three houses per day. I’ve owned Building Energy Compliance Testing, www.bect.us since June 2014. 

What I see is that the only time a house gets HERS tested is when it is new construction, there is an addition or major remodel and it includes a new furnace and ducts. If a homeowner just gets a new HVAC system, it rarely gets permitted and tested. I’ve spoken to other HERS raters and energy consultants, we all suspect that only about 5% of new or altered HVAC systems in California get HERS tested. 

Every time I go to a job and meet an HVAC contractor I ask them how they sized this system. They almost always answer, “Square feet.” When I dig deeper into it, they often tell me that the rule is 500 square feet per ton of air conditioning.  Often times, they tell me that the guy at the supply house told them what size to buy. I tell them that the state of California requires ACCA Manual J, D and S calculations. I have one client who I know uses Wrightsoft calcs on every job. 

This lack of design before construction causes real problems. I often see 5 ton AC systems on smaller houses in fog banks. Contractors usually fail airflow tests because they wildly undersize cold air returns. This makes the testing process a burden to both the homeowner who can’t get the job “finalled” and has to pay for multiple HERS tests. These big AC systems contribute to peak electric loads, uncomfortable houses and high energy bills. 

The problem is with the building department when a job is permitted. When one submits plans for an addition or new construction job to a building department they require structural engineering. What they don’t do is require the engineering on the HVAC system even though the builder or owner signs off on Calgreen and the T24 report and mandatory measures.  Calgreen includes 4.507.2, stating that heating and AC systems shall be sized, designed using ACCA Manual J, D and S. 

There is a real disconnect here that needs to be addressed by the CEC, Building Departments and the Contractors State License Board. I’d like to get the heads of these departments in a conference room and have them figure out a way to get energy code compliance above 5% and closer to the majority of jobs. 

While I love the fact that the CEC is taking us to Zero Net Energy buildings by 2020, I find it absurd that 95% of current HVAC jobs are not achieving the 2016, 2013 or any other year of the code. HVAC contractors could be the champions of building an energy efficient economy in California. However, what I see is that the vast majority of them are actually outlaws or skofflaws, ignoring codes and evading local building authorities. 

Aside from energy codes, these contractors are making electrical and gas connections as well as installing flues to hopefully rid houses of poisonous combustion gasses. These three things are all able to kill people and deserve to have another set of eyes on them. Deaths from carbon monoxide are not a rare occurrence. 

While I am on the job inspecting and testing HVAC systems I look at the insulation installation. Generally, attics are poorly insulated and general & roofing contractors do not use radiant barriers. When this bad combo exists in the attic, homeowners buy air conditioning systems, (even in the foggy Bay Area). We in the energy efficiency industry should be helping building owners install these systems so as not to need compressor cooling and the energy it takes in late in the afternoon at peak load. 

Attic hatches are not sealed or insulated in most Bay Area houses. In about the last 90 attics I’ve climbed into, I’ve found 3 that actually have attic hatches that are air sealed and insulated. Insulation contractors just don’t do this. I suspect that since there is no HERS attic hatch inspection no one else cares. In my experience, City building inspectors pass any insulation installation no matter how poorly installed or how many gaps there are around boxes or can lights. Q: When is an R-39 attic actually an R-33.85 attic? A: When the attic hatch is unsealed and uninsulated. 

Here is what I’d like to see, 

  • Get the majority of HVAC contractors to have their work inspected and HERS tested. 
  • Make contractors responsible for 4.507.2, sizing HVAC systems before they build them. 
  • Have insulation installations inspected and enforce proper installation. 
  • Have attic hatches inspected for air sealing and insulation. 
  • Require HVAC contractors get continuing education in the energy code. 

I know this is a lot to ask but I request that you coordinate and work with other state agencies like the CSLB and organizations of local building officials to actually enforce the California building energy code. If there is anything I can do to make this a reality, please let me know. 

Failed HERS Test and Final Inspection - How to Avoid the Pain and Expense and a Solution to the Problem 5/4/17

It happened again, yesterday, doing a HERS test on a new house, HERS testing the air conditioning system.

This was the third time I was at this house testing. The technician, not an HVAC contractor but a tech hired by the owner, had added another duct to coax the 5 ton air conditioner into blowing 1750 cubic feet of air per minute, the minimum required by code.

The system did not perform to code. It moved 1600 CFM but not the 1750 required by the State of California. We looked at his work. He’d added a shiny silver drooping limp flex duct connected to a small return filter box. He told me there was nothing more he could do. I suggested pulling it taught in a straight line to the return. He didn’t think that would work. He really did not like my alt suggestion of a straight metal duct to reduce air friction.

I exited the front door with him. He threw is boots hard at the driveway and cursed in anger. I could sense deep frustration and a man who probably won’t get paid until the job passes. I felt sorry for him. He did not know that these systems are supposed to be sized according to manual J, Manual D and Manual S in software such as Wrightsoft. The owner or builder had signed off on building to the Calgreen checklist which states that the HVAC system will be sized according to Manual J, D and S. Apparently, no one took that seriously. The City of Orinda building department never asked for this basic engineering. Hence, it never got done.

The technician had guessed the system together. The 2600 square foot house in mild, often foggy Orinda, California somehow received a 5 ton air conditioner, the largest available. When it failed he asked me what to do. I had to tell him that I am not the designer but the State’s Energy Commission does have something called the Building HVAC Requirements.  http://www.energy.ca.gov/2013publications/CEC-400-2013-001/chapters/04_Building_HVAC_Requirements.pdf

In these Building HVAC Requirements, under table 4-11 (Standards Table 150-D): Return Duct Sizing for Multiple Return Duct Systems, there is a line that shows a 5 ton air conditioning duct system having two 20 inch return ducts with a minimum gross filter grill face area of 1500 square inches.

The system I was testing did not have anywhere near 1500 square inches of filter grill face. It had two filters equaling 768 square inches, about half what code is requiring.

If this system had actually been designed rather than guessed together by a person using some “rules of thumb”, it most probably would have passed the first time. The problem is that this is the 3rd time I’ve seen this in a ten days. It happens all the time in the affluent, well educated San Francisco bay area, home to so much energy efficiency research and development.

I usually ask air conditioner contractors how they sized the system I’m about to test. Almost invariably they tell me they use the “square footage rule”. “What is that?” I ask. They then explain that for every 500 square feet of house they put in a ton of AC. Easy! 2500 square feet of house equals 5 tons of AC. System sizing complete! Sometimes they admit that the guy at the supply house told them what size was needed.

We know the problem. HVAC contractors and unlicensed technicians who install HVAC systems don’t size those systems according to protocol of the Air Conditioning Contractors of America. The results are brand new, shiny yet poorly operating systems that will waste energy and perform poorly for decades to come.

Here’s the solution. City Building Departments must get manual J, D and S designs before contractors can build that system. Just as seismic engineering is required for buildings before they are built, so to can we require that mechanical systems be engineered before they are built. Then we just have to work with the problem that the residential HVAC industry evades building departments permits and code HERS testing some 90% of the time.

A Call To Action For Bay Area Cities Video: Bringing Building Performance Workshop To The San Francisco Bay Area 9/5/16

Hi, I am George Matthews of Building Energy Compliance Testing, BECT, of the San Francisco Bay Area.

BECT is sponsoring the Corbett and Grace Lundsford of the Building Performance Workshop to come to Bay Area with the tiny house that they built as a tiny building science laboratory and idea house on wheels.   This is their Tiny House/Proof is Possible – US Tour 2016.

Video: Show Pic of SF Bay Area from maps.google.com

Corbett wrote the book on home performance diagnostics, literally, here it is. Corbett is a superstar of building performance and energy efficiency who had created scores of high quality building performance diagnostic videos – Here is your chance to meet and learn from him.

Corbett, Grace and their baby daughter Nanette (and two cats!) are traveling across the USA showing off building energy science and diagnostics in their tiny house lab and they need some places to park it give tours and classes plus show it off from October second to the eighth 2016. That’s next month!

City of San Francisco, Berkeley, Palo Alto, San Jose, Sonoma County – You are the leaders in civic energy. Can you lend us a parking spot next to your Building Department?

Please contact us at 510 520 4443 or bectesting@gmail.com if you’d like us to come to your parking lot with curious people.

Proof is possible – come find out how on the Tiny House 2016 Tour – San Francisco Bay Area

This is George Matthews at Building Energy Compliance Testing, BECT

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Things HVAC Contractors Should Know Before Installing A New System In California (To Pass The 2013 Energy Code) 4/13/16

I keep running into HVAC contractors still unfamiliar with HERS duct leakage tests, total airflow and fan/watt draw tests to pass in the 2013 California Energy Code. These are key in making sure that you are taking all the precautions in  ensuring energy efficiency. This is from the BECT.US website for all to see but I keep having to explain it while a distraught contractor, technician or homeowner asks what is wrong. 

Important Items for Installing HVAC contractors to know:

Please note: The 2013 energy code, Title 24, requires quite a few things in an HVAC system. Here are some highlights.

  • HVAC system sizing must be calculated by an approved method. Duct systems are required to be designed by an approved method. ACCA Manual J and Manual D are one system to do this. Wrightsoft is the leading software tool. “Rules of thumb” sizing do not pass code or work well. I know one contractor who was sued for using them rather than a code approved method
  • Air conditioners need to have at least 350 CFM per ton of air flow. A/Cs need to use 0.58 or fewer watts per cubic feet of air flow. This is the code absolute minimum. Here, more airflow is better.
  • You’ll need to have the cold air return properly sized. See above. Again, Bigger = better. I keep running into contractors with wildly oversized furnaces and air conditioners who balk at the idea of using anything larger than a 16″ return duct or that two large returns might be better than one small one.
  • You’ll need to state the airflow the filter system is rated for. The registry will want to see .05 inches of water column of pressure in the return and .10 in the supply. Are you sure the return grill from 1955 (heat only) is big enough for the new system (with AC) in 2016?
  • You’ll need to tape the sheet metal boots to the drywall or flooring. Use UL 181 aluminum tape.
  • You’ll need to mastic over the tape that is sealing your system. Really, yes.
  • Use only “UL181” approved plastic and metal tape and mastic. UL 181 is code required.
  • You’ll need to have less than 6% duct leakage in new duct systems and less than 15% in existing systems. (FYI: Hot rodder contractors get their systems below 1 percent.)
  • (Note: the secret ingredient here is air duct mastic. Use it liberally. Put it on every connection. It is cheaper than having to pay a HERS Rater to come back and retest the system.).

 Missing any of these items is a failure, so take heed.


It gives me such joy to see a system that holds air when I set-up the duct test equipment. I hope that you enjoy it as well.


George Matthews

Building Energy Compliance Testing

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Post War California Tract House Energy Audit Reveals Room For Improvement 2/1/16

Postwar, 1947 tract house on 1/3rd acre lot is inundated with sun since the old trees died. The owners are doing a remodel. West facing single pane windows let in ample sun and warmth on a February 1st afternoon. By April or May it will surely feel like a furnace. New, California Energy Code level windows formulated for western orientation will make the dining/living room more comfortable year-round.

The house has no insulation in the floor or walls. The ceiling has about 3 ½ inches of old, disturbed, blown in insulation. Building a dam around the fold-down access stairs and furnace and insulate it to R40 (about 14 inches of blown-in cellulose) would make the place far more comfortable and cause the furnace/AC to run less often.


The attic access is an area where warm conditioned air escapes to the attic, causing drafts and wasted energy dollars. Those fold-down access stairs to the attic are really hard to air seal or weatherstip properly. I suggest adding on one of the zip-up “tents” that go on top of the access area.  I’d never seen one until last fall. They are air tight and really work.  Check out one site selling such “tents”, http://www.energyefficientsolutions.com/attic-tent.asp

That same attic, under a brown roof must surely bake in the summer sun. I suggest adding radiant barrier under the roof deck. You really have to feel the difference to believe how much energy this material stops from radiating into the attic. It works! Check out http://energy.gov/energysaver/radiant-barriers  to learn more. For a low tech way to go, here just paint the roof white. They do it from the Bahamas to India to the Greek Islands. Put on your sunglasses and check out Santorina, Greece, cool…

 

The crawlspace is open and ventilated to the outside with no insulation in the floor. Many would suggest adding R19 fiberglass  insulation to the bottom of the floor. That is an imperfect way to go. A more interesting and healthy option is to encapsulate the crawlspace. This action can not only keep the floor warmer in the winter but keep the nasty air from the crawlspace out of the house. I’ve read articles stating that over 40% of the air in a house comes up from the crawlspace. Below is a before and after pic that shows the visual improvement. The lower pic shows how a crawlspace can become a semi-conditioned sub-first floor that seems more like an operating room than a crawlspace.

  1. Above Left: Thick plastic separates house from soil

Right: Americover.com materials encapsulate crawlspace

The water heater is a standard .62 tank water heater that takes up a significant amount of space in the garage. The owner mentioned how an expanse of pipes makes the cold water hot in the summer months.  An upgrade to an instantaneous gas water heater could both free up space and provide energy savings.  The pipes could be insulated to reduce heat gain.

Takagi Instantaneous gas water heater saves space and energy

The house has a newer large furnace/air conditioner system that appears to be well sealed except for a small leak on the right hand side of the furnace. Place UL 181 aluminum tape on the corner of the plenum to seal it.  The flex ducts appear thoughtfully sealed however they all leak unless there is mastic on the joint of duct to the plenum. Twelve dollars worth of air duct mastic and an hour spreading it around every duct connection would surely keep more air inside the system and the house rather than in the attic.

Doing the above items would render the house more comfortable and lower the energy bills. How much? To learn that, computer energy modeling is necessary. Your energy consultant could easily model them and assign dollar values.  The nice thing about the upgrades is that they offer non-energy dollar benefits of  improved air quality, added space, improved thermal comfort, and energy efficiency.

Building Energy Compliance Testing

www.bect.us

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