Energy costs are constantly on the rise. It is now more important than ever to reduce the energy usage of the homes we live in. The new Georgia Energy Code is holding builders to a higher standard, and owners of existing homes are trying to find ways to reduce their utility bills. Ensign provides performance testing and home energy audits to rate the efficiency of a home or office, and makes recommendations for improvement. Owners of energy efficient homes can expect: reduced utility bills, improved comfort, greater durability, and increased property value.
New and existing homes can be given a HERS rating to determine the efficiency of the home. HERS stands for Home Energy Rating System. A HERS Index is a score – the lower the better – for how efficiently the home uses energy. Low-E windows, better wall and attic insulation, a tight thermal envelope, an efficient HVAC system and water heater, and well sealed duct work all improve the score and ultimately lower your utility bills. This HERS index can be used to qualify homes for specific energy programs, such as Energy Star, as well as qualify new and existing homes for rebates offered by local and federal governments and local utility companies.
The HERS index of a home can be compared to MPG of a vehicle. When home buyers consider the purchase of a home, the HERS index allows them to consider the operating costs of that home the same way they would consider the fuel efficiency of a vehicle. Did you know that FMLS, the listing service used by Georgia Realtors, has a place for displaying the HERS Index so that you can consider utility costs when purchasing a home?
One of the major differences between a home energy rating and an energy audit or weatherization assessment is that the rating is a recognized tool in the mortgage process. Home energy ratings are valuable to the housing industry and can be utilized in a variety of ways.
Ensign’s Professional HERS Rating Services:
Home energy ratings involve an on-site inspection of a home by Ensign’s residential energy efficiency professional, a home energy rater. Ensign home energy raters are trained and certified by the operating home energy rating system. The Ensign home energy rater inspects the home and measures its energy characteristics, such as insulation levels, window efficiency, wall-to-window ratios, the heating and cooling system efficiency, the solar orientation of the home, and the water heating system. Diagnostic testing, such as blower door for air leakage and duct blaster leakage testing, is often part of the rating.
The data gathered by the Ensign home energy rater is input into a computer program and translated into points. The home receives a point score between 1 to 100, depending on its relative efficiency. An estimate of the home’s energy costs is also provided. The home’s energy rating is then equated to a Star rating ranging from a 1 Star for a very inefficient home to a 5 Star Plus for a highly efficient home. Along with the rating sheet, a home owner receives a report listing cost-effective options for improving the home’s energy rating.
Home Energy Audit
Even existing homes can be retro-fitted to reduce energy usage and improve comfort and efficiency. In purchasing a home, the educated consumer looks at the operating costs of the home (i.e. utility bills), NOT just the purchase price, the same way they would consider the costs of buying and owning a new car.
Are you considering efficiency upgrades to your home? Will the upgrade make much of a difference? How long will it take to see a return on your investment? As a home owner, what things can I do myself to lower the energy usage within my home?
Ensign’s Professional Home Energy Audit Services:
A home energy audit by Ensign Building Solutions will show you how to reduce the energy usage and utiity costs of your home.
- Blower Door Test – This test answers the question “How leaky is my house?” Used in conjunction with thermal imaging technology, the Ensign building analyst can identify ways to improve the tightness of the thermal envelope
- Duct Blaster Test – This test quantifies the leakage that exists within your HVAC system. Supply side leakage means wasted energy; return side leakage means poor Indoor air quality in your home
- Insulation Inspection – This determines the effective R-value of exposed insulation
- Combustion Safety Testing – The Ensign building analyst will check for proper draft and exhaust of gas appliances, such as a furnace and water heater
- Gas Leak Testing – This test checks for leaks in gas pipe to the gas appliances
Builders and homeowners may participate in a voluntary home energy program in order to verify their home performs better than the average code-compliant home. Individual energy program requirements are often unique and provide options for program compliance. Homeowners of these energy efficient homes can expect: lower utility bills, increased comfort, greater durability, and improved indoor air quality.
Ensign’s Professional Energy Program Services:
Because Ensign is a certified HERS rater and Building Performance Institute (BPI) certified Building Analyst, they can help builders and homeowners qualify their homes for these Energy programs:
- Energy Star
- EarthCents by Georgia Power
- Environments for Living (EFL)
- EarthCraft House
In 2011, Georgia adopted the 2009 International Energy Code Council (IECC), which requires performance testing on every home. A duct blaster test and blower door test are required tests that must be performed on every home in order to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy.
Ensign’s Professional New Construction Services:
As a certified HERS rater, Ensign Building Solutions can perform the tests and train Home Builders and their Trades how to pass the tests and meet and exceed code requirements.