Do You Even Know if You Need an Energy Assessment? Intro.
Wednesday, August 9th, 2017 by Joy Padgett
Let’s face it, sometimes we don’t even know some things exist. That’s the way it is with Home Comfort Assessments. Who has even heard of such a thing? What is it and how do I know I need to consider having one done?
Well, let me kinda start from the beginning. You see, when a man and a woman love each other very much…..what? That’s a little too far back? Ok, Ok. Back in late 2010 (is that better?), after I had lost my job due to downsizing, my husband was presented with an opportunity to join the weatherization industry. He was going to be taking a course to become certified by the Building Performance Institute (BPI), which would help him further his career in the weatherization industry. Since I wasn’t working, he asked me if I, too, wanted to enroll in the class. I agreed and was on my way to becoming BPI certified.
Up until that moment, I didn’t even know such a thing existed….weatherization or BPI. What I did know was that I didn’t have anything better to do and that the house we were living in at the time had some comfort issues. I didn’t know what was causing the problems, how to figure out what was causing the problems, or how to go about fixing them. Little did I know I was heading toward the answers!
I am passionate about what I do…..telling people about what my company does, how they can benefit from working with us and sharing the top reasons a home is uncomfortable. You see, after becoming BPI certified and working in the weatherization industry for 4 years, I had a very clear understanding of how uncomfortable a home could be. I’m not talking about the furniture or the atmosphere after an argument; I’m talking about hot rooms in the summer, cold rooms in the winter and drafts.
So, every Wednesday for the next 6 weeks, we’ll be focusing on home comfort assessments and taking a more in depth look at the most common issues in homes today.
How do you know you need a home comfort analysis? Well, that’s pretty easy. Are you uncomfortable in your home? Do you have temperature differences between the rooms in your house? Can you feel hot drafts in the summer and cold drafts in the winter? Do you think your utility bills are higher than they should be? Does it seem like you can’t escape from your allergies even when you’re inside?
If you said “yes” to any of these questions, you would benefit from having an assessment conducted on your home. While you might be able to find some of the sources of your discomfort, the professionals have knowledge and equipment that helps uncover those harder to find, but very influential, culprits.
The biggest reason you are experiencing any of the things we talked about above is a lack of air sealing. There are gaps and cracks throughout your whole house that are allowing hot air to enter your home during the summer months. These gaps and cracks could be the result of natural settling that occurs as your house ages or from the builder not understanding the ramifications of not sealing up plumbing, HVAC and electrical penetrations (among other things).
Let’s look at how air sealing can rear its ugly little head.
1. High energy bills – up to 30% higher heating and cooling costs. I, for one, can think of many other things I would rather do with my money than give it to a utility company who never drops their rates but never improves the electricity or gas I’m receiving, and takes 6 hours to fix a power outage and blames it on a non-existent storm.
2. Drafts – especially around windows and doors. If you’re like me, you’re not too thrilled about your house seemingly having a constant breeze when the windows and doors are all closed. You’ve also noticed that you can see daylight along the edge of the front door and can feel air coming in from your electrical outlets.
3. Uneven room temperatures – creates cold or hot rooms. Now, ladies, it might not be a hot flash, it might be that your house is too flipping hot even though the AC is on! Maybe you make sure you’re sitting directly under a vent so you can stay cool! Maybe you’ve even gone so far as to have your HVAC system checked. While that is something you should do on a yearly basis, it is not usually the reason your house is not keeping a steady temperature in all the rooms.
4. Allergens, dust, pollen, pollutants – can make your home unhealthy and smelly. And you wonder why you’re sneezing so much and your eyes are itchy even when you’re inside. If your furnace filter seems to be filled with dust even though you change it every month, this is a HUGE indicator that your house has some leakage issues. Now, I don’t have allergies (knock on wood since I live in Central KY), but I have seen the difficulties and discomfort of those who do. What so many people fail to realize is that their home, which they think should be a refuge from their allergies, is actually exacerbating their problems.
5. Moisture – can cause excessive humidity or material damage and mold. Ever hear of Erin Brockovich? Her house was almost completely engulfed with black mold that was growing inside her walls where she couldn’t see it. It went undetected for months on end. Meanwhile, she and her family began to have increasingly serious health issues. Exhaust fans from bathrooms and kitchens aren’t always installed correctly or have sustained damage or disconnection you might not realize.
6. Pests – insects such as cockroaches, spiders and ants…Oh My! Ok, so I’m known for being a rough-and-tumble, tom-boy kind of girl, but I hate spiders! People who are allergic to bees need to know that wasps enjoy building their nests in attics. From there, they can enter your living space and increase your risk of being stung. I’ve spoken to more people than I could list, who have had a mouse, squirrel or raccoon in their attic! But sometimes, unless you go into your attic frequently, you might not know they’ve been in there using it as a home and a bathroom.
If you are experiencing any of the above mentioned issues, you would definitely benefit from having an analysis conducted on your home. All of those things can cause you to be uncomfortable in your own home. Plus, there are associated health risks with several of the things we’ve discussed and those risks can become increasingly serious if the problem remains unchecked. Having a Home Comfort Assessment completed on your home can uncover not only the construction- based issues, but also health and safety issues. You might have rooms that you can’t even use during the summer because they are just too hot! Shouldn’t the largest investment you have made perform to your standards?
Be sure to check back every Wednesday for the next 6 weeks as we dive deeper into each of the factors listed above that indicate you should have a Home Comfort Assessment performed on your home.