The growth of the home performance and weatherization industry is spearheaded by the the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) along with utility companies, private contractors, and energy non-profits.
Best Practices for Best Results
America’s 130 million existing homes use 20% percent of total US energy consumption and produce 1,270 megatons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
Although there are many ways to improve energy efficiency, traditional energy retrofits only scratch the surface of the potential in each home. An attempt to fix an obvious problem without understanding the root cause can create problems.
Maximizing energy efficiency, durability and occupant comfort, health and safety requires specialized training, equipment and skill. Contractors who have studied home performance use diagnostic tools-including blower doors, infrared (IR) cameras, duct testers, manometers and energy analysis software to find the root cause of the problems in the house and fix them.
Prescribed improvements include air sealing, insulating, sealing duct leaks, and servicing HVAC systems. No two houses have the same exact set of problems. The solutions involve the right combination of diagnosis and retrofit for the each home's specific problems.
Energy savings potential is determined by the initial performance level of an individual house. A house that already performs well won’t save much energy after a retrofit compared with a house that is performing poorly at the start of the project.
Deep Energy Retrofits
On average, a home performance retrofit can reduce energy consumption by between 10% and 30%. ‘Deep energy retrofits reduce energy use by 60% to 80%.
For new homes, an ENERGY STAR qualified house is one that is at least 15% more energy efficient than homes built to the 2009 International Residential Code (IRC), and includes additional energy-saving features that typically make it 20% to 30% more efficient than standard homes.
Non-Energy Benefits of Weatherization
The same measures employed to reduce energy consumption also improve occupant comfort. Home performance contractors report that the vast majority of their customers are motivated by comfort, not energy bills or environmental awareness. Common complaints include rooms that are too hot or too cold, drafts, uncontrollable humidity levels, mold, mildew and indoor air quality.
With 40% of all energy use in this country going toward that building sector, it really is significant the amount of energy savings that is possible simply through implementing energy efficient technologies. Many of us spend most of our time inside buildings. We appreciate good comfort regardless of the outdoor weather conditions. We benefit from breathing clean healthy indoor air. This indoor comfort comes with a cost. By implementing better building practices and weatherization retrofits, our nation could reduce its overall energy use.