Evaluating your residenceEdit
Perform a visual survey of the residence, noting any obvious potential evaluation questions:
- Do exterior doors already have weather stripping, and if so, is it in working order?
- Is there mold or rust at the A/C registers? (May indicate leaky ductwork.)
- Is the water heater wrapped and are exposed pipes insulated? What is the temperature on the surface of the water heater?
- If the attic is already insulated (fiberglass batts), is it in good condition? If it is blown-in insulation, has it settled excessively? Is insulation covering the soffit vents?
- What type of attic ventilation is present; roof turbines, gable vents, ridge vents, soffit vents?
- Do lights flicker or dim when the HVAC system turns on? This may be a sign of bad wiring or circuit overload.
Selecting the right contractor to weatherize your residenceEdit
Selecting the right contractor to weatherize your residence is crucial. Remember it is your money! Homeowners should request contractors to address all significant utility costs in their energy efficiency, conservation and cost reduction proposal. Contractors should be notified that the homeowner intends to upgrade outdated and obsolete equipment and to perform limited selective improvements.
Ask the tough questions: Check contractor’s references. Discuss the contractor’s experience with energy efficiency and conservation retrofit of residential homes. Ask the contractor to provide you with a list of references indicating experience in conducting comprehensive utility efficiency and guaranteed savings for residential homes of a similar nature to your residence.
Request from the contractor a guaranteed annual utility savings, clearly identifying each type of savings (utility, operational, and cost avoidance). Request the anticipated return on investment (ROI)? You decide, not the contractor, what is economically feasible and what is not.
Once selected, the successful contractor should provide all services necessary to implement energy efficiency conservation and cost savings measures including but not limited to the following: assess and verify existing conditions; issue energy audits for the residence, review and verify applicable design standards requirements; provide drawings and specifications; provide permitting services; and provide estimated construction costs.
The homeowner should anticipate a major reduction in annual utility and operating costs through the implementation of this energy efficiency and utility conservation effort. Therefore, the contractor’s proposal should contain a sample of his/her written guarantee applicable for all utility reductions. The proposal must include clear instructions on how the guarantee calculation is derived specifically for the residence in question.
Going to the next level! Weatherization contractors should provide a detailed work plan that includes the following:
Solutions to reduce energy consumption of the residence and provide an estimate of the savings expressed as a percentage. Solutions should clearly demonstrate creativity and innovation in a holistic manner and may include but not be limited to; heating and central cooling systems, insulation, lighting, intelligent controls, operational practices, and others.
Homeowners should demand that the contractor provide creative and innovative cost-effective solutions to make the residence more self-sustaining, including features such as but not limited to: renewable energy systems (solar, wind), recapture systems, and others. Incorporate leading proven, commercially viable technology as part of the solutions design process to increase energy savings performance and reduce costs, possible examples could be but should not be limited to LED lighting, intelligent controls, etc.
A Measurement and Verification Plan, which clearly explains the process, procedures, controls and degree to which third party verification is a possibility.