The volume of information on green homes is overwhelming. For those of us who live in older homes, the situation can be daunting. A useful analogy is to think of the home as a body. The home’s overall health (particularly as it ages) must be attended to in a holistic manner. To focus on only one ailment, such as an inefficient boiler while ignoring leaky windows, is akin to trying to cure your chronic cough while continuing to chain-smoke.
Furthering the home/body analogy, new diagnostic techniques have been developed to identify the sources of heat loss, verify proper construction techniques and check overall efficiency. Infrared photography (to identify heat loss areas), blower-door testing (to find air leaks) and computer modeling (to properly design and size components) are among the tools of energy auditors.
Step 1: Get your home a check-up!
Utility companies have offered energy audits for many years, but the quality and effectiveness of home energy audits has increased greatly with sophisticated diagnostic tools. Currently, Massachusetts residents are eligible for free energy audits through Mass Save, a coalition of utility providers. This audit will result in a report and scope-of-work for qualified contractors, along with a list of available financial incentives and rebates for energy upgrades. The insulation rebate alone will pay for 75% of the cost, up to $2,000, which buys a lot of insulation. DSIRE offers the most comprehensive list of all financial incentives available in the state.
We always recommend an energy audit to our clients, and factor the results into our design work. Our energy auditors go on to prepare energy models of the proposed design to help us consider options and make decisions. During construction, the auditor stays involved to inspect construction detailing and insulation to qualify the home for rebates and incentives.
While it is easier to achieve green goals when building a new home, renovating or retrofitting a home offers the opportunity to radically improve efficiencies while increasing comfort, utility and beauty.
Further posts will explore specific aspects of the home/body analogy.