Last week I attended a BPI Building Analyst and Envelope Professional certification class. This is the second time I have taken it as BPI requires it every three years.
It was good to go over the concepts again and learn some additional new information.
It got me thinking about the home performance industry, where you look at the whole house as a system, and where it is today compared with three years ago.
When I first got into this business the future of this Industry seemed bright. There was a lot of discussion in Washington of a comprehensive energy retrofit bill known as The Home Star program aka” Cash for Caulkers”. This program was a comprehensive program to help people make their homes more energy efficient and comfortable as well as a jobs bill to put unemployed construction workers back to work. There also was a local program called the Energy Works program that was giving incentives, rebates and low interest loans for whole home energy retrofits
Because of the grid lock in DC the Home Star bill never materialized . The Energy Works program although slow getting started was finally gaining momentum when its three year funding window was closed.
Since then I have been involved in over a hundred Whole house energy retrofits as a building analyst and I am true believer in the home performance business model. In most cases this includes proper air sealing and insulation of the home but also may include high efficiency HVAC equipment upgrades, duct sealing and/or retrofitting to energy star windows and doors etc. When done properly I have seen firsthand the improvement it has made in my clients comfort as well as their energy usage and savings.
There were a couple of contractors in the class that did a lot of solar and geothermal installations. I asked them how many of their jobs included home performance. I was shocked that only one of them did and he was from New jersey who has a very strong program for home energy retrofits that includes rebates and low interest financing.
This means there are still a large number of people spending huge amounts of money to switch to renewable energy like Geo and Solar sources while ignoring the low hanging fruits of home performance. I guess it’s not very interesting or compelling to tell your neighbor you had your home air sealed and insulated but is probably the first step any home should take in trying to reduce their energy usage.