18 Feb Home Energy Assessment: FAQ
Who is GreenHomes America?
GreenHomes America has been in business since 1981 and is the largest contractor network provider of home performance solutions in the country. Our network of carefully screened contractors operate throughout the country and have served over 10,000 families. We educate homeowners and contractors alike about home performance and energy related technologies. We achieve our mission by offering information on our website, training materials and proprietary systems offered to our nationwide network. As a result, they offer consistent energy saving and comfort improving solutions to all homeowners.
In fact, with GreenHomes’ solutions, many contractors in our network can guarantee at least a 25% reduction in your energy use if you follow their recommendations. We are accredited by the Building Performance Institute, which allows contractors to offer some incredible incentives and state and federal tax credits.
How does it work or what is the process?
- First, a selected contractor schedules a time for a certified home energy technician to perform a comprehensive energy audit.
- Then, the contractor completes the energy audit, analyzes the results, and provides you with detailed recommendations. These customized recommendation offer solutions based on your needs and any problems found in your home.
- Next, you decide which of these improvements you want performed. Your contractor identifies available cash incentives or tax credits available for these improvements.
- Finally, the contractor installs the improvements typically in 2-3 days!
Additionally, upon completion of the improvements, contractors perform a test out. Essentially, the contractor performs the same comprehensive audit from the start of the process. Why? So, you can see the differences before and after the improvements are made. As a result, some contractors can guarantee a 25% reduction in your energy use when they are done. In addition, they can provide you with a "GreenHomes-Certified" certificate that describes the work done.
What does this mean? If you decide to sell your home down the road, you have proof that your home energy efficient and more comfortable than other homes in your area.
Who performs the Home Energy Audit?
One of the network contractors performs the audit. The GreenHomes America network includes BPI certified Building Analysts. These certified auditors perform the energy audit and develop an energy efficiency plan for your home. GreenHomes and BPI auditors and technicians are very experienced and knowledgeable in building science. As a result, the auditors expertly diagnose any issues in your home and make specific recommendations to remedy them.
How much does the Comprehensive Home Energy Audit cost?
Depending on the location, the price may vary. Check with the location nearest you. In most locations, if you agree to have the contractor make energy and comfort improvements to your home, they will reduce the project price by the cost of the audit.
Do I have to be at home during the Energy Audit?
Yes. In fact, we encourage an interactive audit and questions. During the process, a certified home advisor performs a whole-house diagnosis. As the advisor works, this present an opportunity to learn about your home. For example, the auditor identifies the components of your home causing high utility bills, drafty rooms, poor indoor air quality and any other annoyances. The audit includes:
- Completing a blower-door and manometer that measure your homes’ air leakage levels. For example, the blower door simulates a 20-25 mile per hour wind on all sides of your home. Essentially, it acts like a vacuum that pulls air into your house through all the holes, cracks and crevices in your home. The blow door test identifies leaky areas creating drafts and high energy bills.
- Inspecting the quality and quantity of insulation in your walls and attic with an infrared camera. Plus, if you ask nicely, they’ll actually let you use the infrared camera. It’s really amazing technology!
- Performing a flue-pressure test that ensures your furnace, boiler, and water heater vent safely.
- Determining the energy efficiency ratings of your furnace, boiler, water heater, air conditioner and appliances.
- Performing health and safety tests that ensure you have no gas leaks, ventilation issues or carbon monoxide problems.
Finally, during the consultation, the auditor discusses any comfort, safety and structural problems identified during the audit. Plus, the advisor provides recommendations on how to fix these problems in the most cost effective way. Typically, the audit and consultation take around 90 minutes or so, plus time for any questions.
As you can tell, it’s a very comprehensive analysis of your home. It’s like getting a thorough physical exam and cat-scan by your doctor. When we’re done, you’ll know exactly where your home is performing well and where it needs improvements.
Do I need to do anything before the Advisor gets here?
Yes. First, please have a copy of your monthly and annual utility bills. Second, please make sure the advisor has access to the attic and basement. For example, if your attic access or under-house crawl space access are in a closet, please remove any items that block the access door. For reference, feel free to review our video What To Expect From a Home Energy Audit. We offer an assortment of videos that prepare and assist you in the learning of our processes and careful measures.
What products and services does your network offer?
- Comprehensive Energy Audits
- Heating and cooling system replacement, service, and tune-ups
- Attic and wall insulation with comprehensive air sealing included
- Water heating solutions – tank, on-demand, and solar hot water
- Windows and doors
- Indoor air quality products such as electronic in-duct air cleaners, advanced filtration solutions, air duct sealing, humidifiers, energy recovery ventilators (ERV) and heat recovery ventilators (HRV)
- Whole-house fans
- High-efficiency pool and spa pumps
- More efficient lighting solutions
- We can even get you new Energy Star appliances such as refrigerators, clothes washers, dishwashers, freezers and dehumidifiers for a discount.
- And so much more!
What is BPI? (Building Performance Institute)
Building Performance Institute (BPI) is a national standards organization for residential energy efficiency retrofit work. They are the leading developer of technical standards for home performance energy audits and installations in North America. BPI also conducts random quality assurance inspections. Therefore, you can be assured you are getting the highest quality energy improvements possible. BPI standards are recommended by the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® program from the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
How does the 25% Guarantee work?
If a network contractor’s home energy advisor identifies areas of improvement in your home that will save you at least 25% on your heating and cooling energy use and you implement their recommendations, they may guarantee in writing at least a 25% savings over the next 2 years. The two years of energy use after the improvements sets a benchmark. In the unlikely event that you do not achieve the 25% savings in energy usage, they will take your monthly utility bill usage less what they said they would deliver and pay you double this difference. They need your prior 12 months of utility bill usage before the installed improvements for the baseline and the next 24 months of utility bill usage for the comparison. Ask each contractor for details.
What if I add a new energy consuming item such as a pool, spa, etc?
If you add an addition to your home, pool, spa, etc., this is not included in the guarantee.
What incentives are available?
Check with the Government Incentives section of our website for your particular state. Frequently, these incentives can often be complicated, but we take care of the entire process for you. For over 10 years, we continuously work with the utility companies, states, and federal government for your benefit. Depending upon which improvements you make to your home, the incentives really add up! For example, in many cities and states, only Building Performance Institute-accredited contractors can provide special cash rebates that are available. To receive these incentives, the first step is to receive a comprehensive energy audit from an accredited building performance contractor. Finally, after the energy audit, our certified building analyst will provide you with a report of energy saving recommendations and incentives available.
What types of financing are available?
There are a number of financing options available, including loans with no interest for 6 – 12 months, low interest, unsecured loans, and energy efficient mortgages. The contractor takes care of all the paperwork and ensures a seamless process.
Why are Contractors offering GreenHomes’ solutions?
Our network of contractors always offer "green" high-efficiency heating and cooling products. We focus on helping customers use less energy. However, we want to do even more, so now they are part of the GreenHomes Network. As we expand our products and offerings, we leverage all available ways to reduce your home energy use and increase your comfortable. Over the years, many customers complain about having drafty rooms, excessive dust, rooms that are cold in the winter and hot in the summer. Now they can solve these problems – permanently! Plus, they know it’s the right thing for the environment and reducing our dependence on foreign oil.