Thursday, December 9, 2010

Home Performance

Home.  It’s a word heavy with connotation, a word containing a world of personal significance.  A home should be a place of comfort and a source of strength, rejuvenation and health.  While most of us have a strong emotional connection to our homes, we usually don’t consider the scientific system designed for our comfort. When a Home Performance evaluation is used for your home, the rigors of science optimize your home’s performance.

A high-performance sports car holds the road so well  because the weight to power ratio of the car, coupled with precision engineering, gives it stability. The secret lies in the system.  Home Performance focusses on your house as a “system” with the goal of supporting a more comfortable, healthy, durable and energy-efficient home.  Working with the laws of physics and the dynamics of heat, air and moisture movement, the system is balanced and finely tuned, like a sports-car, and the structure performs optimally.

While many homes are pleasing to the eye, they often neglect a whole world of comfort potential. Pack away the visual insistence of your eyes and consider your home from the reach of your other senses, the often neglected realm of smell, touch and feel.  Take a deep breath.  Does your house smell musty or stale?  Do you battle to keep your home warm in the winter?  Do you suffer the insult of cold feet from frigid floors?  A home should be free of drafts, easy on the heat and contain fresh air to breathe.  This will maximize your home’s potential.

The Home Performance process begins with an Energy Audit and utilizes diagnostic tools such as a blower door, infrared camera, gas sniffers and pressure gauges to test the home’s performance.  There is no guesswork. Home Performance makes sick houses healthy by ensuring an optimal flow of air.

After Home Performance testing the auditor will build a list of concerns to be addressed and prescribe the solutions.  Some of the common problems found in older homes are inadequate insulation values, far too many air leaks, single pane windows and propane appliances with flue gas concerns.  Newer housing stock may be without proper ventilation and suffer from poor indoor air quality; mold and mildew are concerns along with broken thermal boundaries.

Energy remodel measures offer exceptional returns on investment. The savings are quantifiable and paybacks arrive within a few years.  You will immediately notice a difference in your home following performance measures.  Your home shouldn’t be a place of cold feet.  It shouldn’t be a battle ground against the elements.  It should be a place for you to be comfortable and healthy.

After more than 20 years in the building industry, I have found Home Performance to offer the most bang for the buck in reducing heating and energy costs.  Full energy remodels generally range from $2,000-$9,000, depending on the depth of the measures.  There are several rebates and incentives offered by OPALCO and the federal government to assist in the weatherization costs.  Some of these expire at the new year, so now is a good time to sign on for for an energy remodel and start living in a more comfortable, healthy and energy-efficient home.

Email Energy Matters at, call me at 468-4047, or call OPALCO at 376-3586 to sign-up for a Home Energy Snapshot that includes an in-depth home energy assessment for $25.  The Snapshot does not offer diagnostic testing, but it does include high efficiency specialty light bulbs and shower heads.

(Written by Doug Poole, this article was first published in the Islands Weekly in November 2010.) 

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