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Energy audits and green builders; There’s $Green in living Green…#4

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Energy audits and green builders; There’s $Green in living Green…#4

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As I think about my own 30-year-old house I recognize two things – 1) it’s almost paid off!  2) if I want an energy efficient house I may not be able to achieve complete efficiency (at reasonable costs) given the age and construction of my house.

Does that mean that I should give up, do nothing?  Search for a newly constructed house and move?  NO!  Surely there are ways to at-least improve the efficiency of my house.  I did a self-appraisal of my ‘carbon footprint’ a couple of weeks ago using the website at http://www.carbonfootprint.com/calculator.aspx and found that the ‘primary footprint’ for my house is 9.3 and my ‘secondary’ footprint is 6.82.   SO, given that the best footprint is 0.0 then, obviously, I’ve got some work to do.

I recently took a trip to New Braunfels, Texas, and visited with several builders while there to review their ‘green’ approach to construction.   I spoke with Darrel McMaster, of Sustainable Homes, Inc., and mentioned that if I was to improve my house that I would need to start with windows and doors.  He had, what I thought, was good advice – that I should get an energy audit performed on my house, and then make a determination of what to change.  Otherwise, I will just ‘throw money’ at something, not really knowing what the best bang-for-buck is.  SO, that is my next step.  I’ll write more about that process when I have it done (soon).

For now, I’ll just write a few passing thoughts about energy assessments and audits, terms often used interchangeably.  In the previous blog I mentioned the idea of an energy survey.  The assessment/audit is different in that a professional energy auditor performs the audit and generally uses assessment tools and performance tests to complete the audit.

A typical energy assessment/audit will take 3 – 4 hours and may include one or all of the following tests:

Blower Door Test – this test measures air infiltration by gauging how airtight a home is; the lower the score, the better.  The test uses a fan and air pressure sensor that measures the air pressure as the fan sucks the air out of the house.  The  more cubic feet of air leaving the building during the test period, the leakier the home’s barrier envelope.

Duct Blaster Test – this test measures the air tightness of air ducts and is often used in conjunction with the Blower Door Test.  Registers and vents are temporarily sealed and the ducts are pressurized.  The tighter the ducts are sealed the lower the volume of air needed to maintain the pressure level in the ducts.

Thermo-graphic Scanning – this test uses infrared technology to identify air leaking through the building envelope, detecting defects such as insulation gaps.

Next blog we’ll discuss some of my findings from discussions with green builders…

I would be honored to help you with your real estate needs and happy to explain tax benefits and other aspects related to financing a home or investment property. Also, I’d love to discuss these ‘green’ aspects and help you understand what the implications of energy efficient design and construction might mean to you as you search for a new or existing home.  Just give me a call or contact me.