What you can’t see may be costing you thousands of dollars in wasted energy leaking from your home. “Leaky Ductwork” is the heavy-hitter in this category. Left un-addressed it can be a “two for one” loss. However, it can be recovered at a “two to one” return if corrected. Let’s look at this through the trained eyes of an “Energy Expert.”
What he sees through his decades of experience, “Thermal Imaging” and an occasional “Blower-Door Test” is that for every unit of air that leaks-out or “escapes” the HVAC system/ducts, you not only have lost the dollars it took to condition that unit of air, you’ve in addition gained an equal volume of “unconditioned air” into the home as its replacement. This “invading, replacement-air” brings with it some excess baggage as well, in the form of dust, pollen, moisture and other undesirables. Not to mention it needs to be conditioned to the desired temperature set point. In times when the temperatures outside are extremely hot or cold, this “replacement air” may require many times more energy to condition than the air that had escaped would have taken. Hence, this can easily equate to “two to one” or even worse.
“Third Party Testing” has brought to light that most new homes being built these days are starting out with leakages averaging 25%, many older homes approaching 50%. “Energy Star Homes” have set the requirements at 6% or less duct leakage. This is a “Nobel Effort,” problem is, “Energy Star Homes” only account for less than 17% of the new homes being built, down from 20% in 2008. To make matters worse there is not much definition within “Local Building Codes” pertaining to duct leakage requirements, which implies to the HVAC contractors within the industry interpreting this as a non-issue. So they continue turning-out ductwork with hundreds of seemingly insignificant smaller leaks, but, when combined has a devastating effect, assembled with temporary tape (duct-tape), that degrades and evolves into larger leaks in the course of time. This trend will likely continue until the informed, savvy consumer, demands performance. Only then can we expect change, it is after-all a consumer driven market.
To reiterate “leaky ductwork” is the first priority in the “Order” of which to identify and propose a remedy of the home’s energy loss and discomfort issues. A “prescriptive” list or proposal can be presented to the consumer once an “Energy-Analysis” has been conducted. There is a logical sequence by which “Thermal Disconnects” and “Comfort Issues” should be addressed. Generally speaking it is rare to find a home that only needs to be “topped-off”. This appears to be a common “fix-it-quick” ill-conceived perception that many unsuspecting builders and consumers have fallen victim to. In reality there may be several “Weatherization” techniques and procedures, when combined with a healthier alternative insulation “Cellulose” actually works like insulation is expected to do. This is necessary to insure anticipated results and performance for a lifetime.
There is a plethora of Insulation Companies to choose from, all of which will embrace the philosophy of blowing insulation in, dazzling you with “R-Values” and platform the seaming harmless “white” fluffy insulation or even expensive foam insulation. (It would behoove you to read the truth contained within the manufacture’s MSDS on how deadly these products are). Their operating model, purely profit driven and not problem solving, causes this “over-looking” of the issues at hand as to why they have been called out in the first place. Most homes will revert back, in short time, to their “Energy Inefficient Status” and they are banking on that homeowner calling them back to add more insulation, this is how they create repeat sales. This is the “Gravy-Work” that they greedily lap up, and count on in the future profits. They are un-willing to incorporate into their business model, an approach which educates and create awareness as to “cause and effect” arming the consumer with the ability to make an “informed decision”. They could then strategically and systematically address the issues to create immediate, measurable results. This creates happy customers and referral sales.
Insulation can and should be a “Once in a Life-Time Event” WEATHERIZATION must be the platform, on which Insulation is addressed in order to achieve optimal, lasting results. In fact, Insulation should be the final step to addressing that which has been identified as an issue. Bad news for the consumer is the majority wants to skip the labor-intensive aspects and jump to the easiest part, the insulation. Despite all this, there is yet one local company providing a Manufacture’s “Lifetime Warranty” against “Settling” retaining its resistance to Fire, Pests, and Mold as well. Integrity should be evident from the first contact, and through the entire process, from the manufacturer to the contractor, to the finished project, your confidence is paramount.
Quality work takes time, and is best executed by trained professionals. They can be found with a little effort through sources such as the “Better Business Bureau”, “Angie’s List.com”, a few “Cutting Edge” Builder’s, or by referral from a very satisfied past client. Finding the right team to tackle these issues can seem to be a daunting task, however, perseverance will pay dividends for the life of the home when you do. Past clients are reporting lowered utilities ranging from 20 to 60%, most recovering their wisely invested dollars in a few short years. The variable being, on how severe the issues causing the problems were previous to the “HOME ENERGY MAKEOVER”.
Nothing on the market can deliver more “bang-for-the-buck” than remedying the issues collectively addressed by an “ENERGY-EXPERT” and stop the flow of wasted dollars out of your budget and put those dollars to work for you. As a bonus, you gain safety, peace-of-mind, and comfort as “Value-Adds”. An Expert can give sound advice of the best products and services available to match properly and effectively in order to address the issues discovered. By these means you will be equipping with the insight needed to make an “Informed Decision”