On this page you will find an in depth view of the Base Line Assessment and how we put together recommendations to make your home comfortable and energy efficient.

The Assessment

It all starts with a baseline energy assessment of the home and a utility breakdown analysis completed by your local Energy Consulting Company. From here you can start the process of finding solutions. Does everything line up? Are there any issues that the energy rater found that could be fixed immediately? We as the weatherization contractor then work with the energy rater to analyze the report and develop a plan that covers the entire home as a system.

Air Leakage

Air leakage is a major factor in home comfort and energy efficiency. Cold air will flow directly through insulation reducing the effective R-value. The cold air flows into the interior wall cavities of the home through little cracks and crevices from the attic area and crawlspace lowering the wall surface temperature and causing drafts throughout the entire home. The Energy rater performs a blower door test and uses ASHRAE 62.2 guidelines to calculate your homes minimum ventilation rates. Now the weatherization contractor can air seal your home down to safe comfortable conditions saving you money.

Can you see air leakage?

Air Leaks Diagram

If you know where to look air leakage can be easy to find. Notice the red highlighted area in the picture above. Heated air that this person has paid for is escaping into the attic area and melting the snow from the roof. With a little bit of air sealing in the attic and crawlspace areas you can began to feel the difference.

The Crawlspace

It is amazing the things you will find if you look hard enough. Being a certified building inspector since 2004 and over thirty years in the construction industry, it gives me the unique ability to know where all of the major connection points are in a home. It allows me to train people to become good energy raters and weatherization technicians. The following sets of pictures are from places we have crawled into to get a good look.

In this crawlspace we came across a major branch of an air duct that had no inner lining. This means that every time the heating system kicked on it would blow fiberglass insulation directly into the home. Fiberglass is a known irritant and causes bronchial infections. This could have been installed this way when the home was built. The utility cost just in the month of January was over $500. These people had just purchased this home within the last six months. They had a home inspector thoroughly check out the home. This is what he missed. This is why we advocate for energy assessments.

The supply air ducts in your home can be a major money drain. Allot of the duct systems we come across are inadequate and quite leaky. While doing a blower door test on the home an energy auditor can use a device called a pressure pan to measure the air leakage in each supply line. This will help to locate the leakage points and make it much easier to air seal the air duct system. It is estimated you can save up to fifteen percent of your yearly utility costs just by having your heating ducts straightened and air sealed.

Theses major air leakage points are really easy to fix and the cost payback is amazing. The client complained that she would run a really hot bath and it would get cold in a matter of a few minutes. How much cold air do you think we stopped just by sealing this hole under the master tub?

The Attic

The attic area is where major air leakage deficiencies occur. Up to twenty-five percent of air leakage rates can be attributed to your attic alone. When we go into the attic area to do an inspection there is one easy sign of major air leakage, dirty spots in the insulation. If you have pink or yellow insulation it is easy to spot. This is a sign of a major air leakage penetration and reduction in insulation R Value.

In older homes we typically find abandoned ducting leading through the ceiling and into the wall cavities or missing draft stops above cabinet areas. Not only are these major air infiltration areas, it is also a chief concern for fire protection. Fire can easily work its way into these areas due to such drafty conditions. Both of these pictures show how dust and pollens can flow directly into your home. If you are having allergy problems in your home, air sealing your attic and crawlspace might help.

In the attic area recessed lighting is a major air leakage issue. Recessed lighting looks great, but when they intrude into your attic space, they can make your home less energy efficient. Recessed lighting in a single-story home, or in the ceiling of a second story home, creates open holes directly into your attic that allow unwanted heat flow between conditioned and unconditioned spaces. By air sealing these lights wasted energy is then reduced. In addition, Warm air leaking into cold attics in the winter months can contribute to moisture problems and (“Ice Dams”), Where snow melts and re-freezes at the roofs edge or gutters.

The Exterior Walls

If you could remove the exterior siding of an older home you would then be able to see the air infiltration areas. Notice the black areas around the pipe penetrations. Dirty air is sucked into the wall cavities bringing dust and pollutants with it. Exterior wall sealing is a major cost upgrade and best done when the exterior has out lived its usefulness. At that time you can then air seal and insulate the entire exterior making your home comfortable and efficient.

Water Heater

There is a visual inspection of your water heating system to see what the condition of the unit is and if there are issues that are costing you money. If the unit is inside the home the Energy Rater will perform a combustion analysis to make sure the unit is safe. In the picture on the left The water heater exhaust vent is showing signs of calcium buildup at the B-Vent penetration through the ceiling. This is caused by a tiny leak inside the exhaust chamber of the water heater. The leak is so small there is no sign of water. By looking at this picture the client was advised to replace this unit as soon as possible or face being without hot water at an inconvenient time.

Heating Units

You need to have a thorough inspection completed on your heating and cooling systems. These units are the main source for your utility costs, so having them run efficiently is most important. The picture on the right shows an old heating unit. This unit was in good shape, but with the age and efficiency of this unit we recommended a new type of heat source. For every ten dollars spent for heating the home, the client was only getting five dollars’ worth of heat. If you are using propane or heating oil to heat your home, it is a good recommendation to start looking into alternative heating and cooling solutions. We can recommend very efficient systems with a moderate payback.

Cooling Units

Cooling units should be inspected on a yearly basis. Notice in this picture of an outside AC air condenser. The leaves have built up so much on the inside of the unit that when the unit kicked on to cool the home, the leaves would plug the air flow making the unit run inefficiently. When replacing cooling units in this area it is always nice to look into a hybrid cooling system. These systems use less energy and keep your home cooler.

Thermal Imaging

A thermal imaging camera looks inside the walls of your home using temperature differences to show gaps in the insulation. The picture on the left shows a vaulted ceiling at the wall to ceiling connection. There is an insulation gap that is allowing cold air to infiltrate into the roof cavity causing a cold spot all along the entire wall. The picture on the right was taken after insulation had been blown through the eve blocks filling the air gap with fiberglass insulation. You can see the improvements. Energy raters can provide a test out report showing you these results along with calculated savings and payback.

If you have taken the time to read through this entire process, I congratulate you on your diligence trying to learn about energy efficiency for your home. I hope that it has helped to explain the process. It does not matter if you start with a basic energy assessment from NV Energy or with a full blown comprehensive home energy audit, just start. You cannot start saving money until you know what is wrong. All efficiency upgrades end up paying you back. As a weatherization contractor that does the work, I can tell you this. The more information you give me about your home and the possible places we might have to go to fix the problems. The less it will cost you. That is from experience. NOW LETS GET IT STARTED!!!