Home Performance Testing
High performance usually equals high quality
An efficient home = a comfortable home but a comfortable home is not always an efficient home so the overall goal is a high performance home.
There are four elements to a high performance home:
1) Heat flow
2) Air flow and air pressure
4) Air quality and Air safety
If all four of these items are addressed the resulting home will be an efficient home.
You as the home owner can choose what retrofits will be done and in what order. Our home performance specialists will work with you to implement the measures to improve the comfort of your home in a timely manner. After the improvements have been made your home performance specialist will come back and retest your home to verify the results. At Energy Conservation Insulation we believe in providing proof that our work is superior so all retrofits that effect the tightness of the building shell (envelope) will be tested after the install. This way you as the homeowner know you are getting what you pay for.
The goal of an efficient home is to have control of the home in these four areas by making sure they all stay in balance. If one area is becomes out of balance then the other areas work harder to compensate. A home is as complex as your car and we know how uncomfortable an uncontrolled event in our car can be.
The following list includes some of the areas your home performance expert will investigate and test to diagnose the health and safety of your home.
- Uncontrolled heat flow can come from
- Windows size, orientation and quality of installation
-Lack of continuous insulation within the walls
-Too little insulation in the floors and/or ceiling
- Uncontrolled air flow and pressure can come from
-Plumbing, electrical, and HVAC penetrations within the walls, floors and ceilings
-Leaks in the duct work or air handler
- Uncontrolled moisture issues can come from
-Improperly vented and sealed exhaust fans
-Leaks in the duct work can carry moisture to unintended areas
- Uncontrolled air quality issues can come from
-Air leakage, insulation gaps, and moisture can degrade the indoor air quality potentially causing respiratory issues
-Leaks in the supply duct work can draw contaminants in and mix with the conditioned air you are breathing
Below are two diagrams of the same home with the first one showing improvement opportunities and the second one showing completed improvements. These are all examples of ways to make your home a high performance home resulting in a high efficiency home.
Details on Diagnostic Testing
Home performance testing starts with an inspection of the dwelling envelope (area of a building that separates the inside conditioned air from the outside environment). This includes penetrations of the envelope such as water, gas, and electrical lines. Inspection will also test for gas leaks, testing of the combustion appliances and testing for presence of carbon monoxide if combustion appliances are present.
The next step looks for anything that may degrade the quality of the indoor air. These items can be signs of moisture damage, insect or rodent damage, wind washing effects, and ventilation requirements of the buildings assembly. This will require the technician to visualize the attic, crawlspace/basement, as well as all interior and exterior walls. Levels of insulation throughout the home will also be inspected for volume and quality.
The previous steps do require a conversation with the homes occupant/s to help identify areas of concern or areas of the home that are uncomfortable.
Diagnostic testing comes next with the use of specialized tools such as a blower door, infrared imaging and duct pressure testing if needed. The blower door will help to identify the extent of the leaks within the buildings home and guide the installers to the right areas quickly. Infrared scanning allows energy auditors to check the effectiveness of insulation in a building's construction. This is often used with a blower door and helps exaggerate air leaking through defects in the building shell. The duct testing is used to verify if the heated or cooled air that cost money actually makes it to the inside of the home. A homes duct work is often contained within the crawlspace and/or attic areas. The air from these spaces often contains dust and construction fibers as well as biologicals from pest intrusion which should not be mixed with the indoor air.
House as a System
These work scopes are not a list of recommendations that may be implemented alone or in combinations; any exclusions or variations to these work scopes may result in the home not operating properly and may include the risk of flue gas spillage, back drafting, carbon monoxide production or moisture problems within the home.
The estimated energy use information contained in the audit report does not constitute any guarantee or warranty of actual energy cost or usage.
The blower door test has the potential to disturb settled indoor air contaminants such as dust and dander. The blower door test also has a high probability of drawing in contaminants in from the attic and crawlspace/basement. If there are any occupants within the home who have respiratory related issues such as asthma, emphysema, COPD, or significant allergies that affect the respiratory system then they should not be present during the test and the home should be adequately ventilated after the test to prevent any breathing issues. If the homes occupants cannot leave then a signature acknowledging the risks must be obtained by each occupant potentially affected by this test. If the occupant is a minor then a signature from a legal guardian will be sufficient.
We can help you in designing the right insulation system for you and our local climate. Contact ECI with your inquiries at 541-678-5566.