Home Performance Auditing
Another service that we provide to homeowners is home performance audits. What are home performance audits you might ask? And why are they important?
What are Home Performance Audits? What do they consist of?
Home Performance Audit. Sounds impressive, but it is actually quite simple. With a Home Performance Audit, we are auditing or analyzing the house and its many parts (HVAC system, insulation system, framing system, homeowner use patterns, electrical system, plumbing system, etc) and assessing how all of those parts work together as a whole. By analyzing information from this holistic view point we start to see how little changes to one system might affect other parts of the house or the performance of the house as a whole.
For example, you might be considering an addition off the back of your house. If you do not also take into consideration the affects this addition will have on the existing insulation system– the ventilation system and heating system, or the exterior drainage system–you may wind up with large issues that could have been avoided. Even small projects or upgrades to the house can have major implications to the house as a whole. For example, a seemingly innocent air sealing and insulation project could alter the ventilation of the house and send harmful combustion products into the living space of the home. Care must be taken to analyze the house as a complete system, no matter what the size of the project.
Typical Kuhl Home Performance Audit
A typical home performance audit consists of a visual site inspection (both interior and exterior). You might be surprised at how much we can learn by simply looking around. There are or course some things where a visual inspection just won’t cut it. We can’t see inside walls, can’t figure out where the leak is coming from, or where the cool air is getting out. That is why we have a whole slew of other tests that we also perform to help better diagnose the underlying issues.
We can perform blower door tests, worst case draft tests, and combustion tests on applicable appliances. The Ice Dam Company and it’s sister company Kuhl is known for it’s use of thermal imaging, not only in terms of detecting inefficiencies in insulation, but also in terms of determining the source of roof leaks.
Another common item that is often left out of inspections – asking the homeowner questions. Where do you spend most of your time? Do you use your bathroom fans? What heating source are you using on a regular basis? Are you energy bills quite high? Do you notice any spaces in which you feel uncomfortable? Etc. Who better to ask about the home, than the person who lives in it on a daily basis? The way a homeowner uses their spaces can greatly affect the performance of the house.
All of this and more is part of a Kuhl home performance audit.
Why would I want a Home Performance Audit? Why is it important?
Health and Well-being of Homeowners
In some cases insulation and air sealing projects or other energy retrofits can leave a house too tight. Meaning, there is not enough natural makeup air moving through the house to allow for proper venting and exhausting of harmful gases and combustion byproducts from your homes appliances. A lack of ventilation and make up air can also create a whole host of other problems such as organic growth, stale air, and a musty smell. It is always a good idea to make sure that your home improvements are actually improving the house as a whole system and functioning together to provide a safe, comfortable environment for its occupants. One way to do this is to have a Home Performance Audit to determine if anything needs to be done to provide that stable, comfortable environment.
From a contractor standpoint a Home Performance Audit, especially the post testing, can provide a second look at the work performed. A quality check, essentially, to make sure that you addressed the concerns that were apart of the original scope of work. If something was missed, the contractor can then correct those errors before leaving the job site. From the homeowner’s perspective, this quality check gives piece of mind that the job was well done, and that the contractor either delivered or did not deliver on the proposal promises.
In certain retro fits, having completed a Home Performance Audit qualifies the homeowner for certain rebates. Currently, Center Point Energy and Xcel Energy have renewed their rebate programs for 2013 for all qualifying insulation and air sealing projects. These rebates can be between $200-500, depending on the size and scope of the project. The rebate comes back to the homeowner in the form of a check from the utility company. This rebate check can in turn make the project more affordable or act as sort of a refund after the project is completed.