by Alison Kartiganer
For many of us, a yearly health checkup with our general practitioner is standard. We count on our GP to have a grip on the grand scheme of what’s going on with our bodies, providing an integrated medical approach, and sometimes a referral to a specialist if a problem comes up.
Your house deserves the same attention, every ten years or so.
A home performance contractor is the GP for your home. “Home Performance” is the term used to describe how well a house functions in terms of thermal comfort, indoor air quality, energy efficiency, and durability. Because all of these elements interact, the science-based, whole-house approach taken by home performance contractors is the best way to solve problems with a house.
For example, if insulation is installed without considering moisture and ventilation, or if a new furnace is installed without addressing air and duct leaks, the house could end up in worse shape, and even possibly a safety hazard with air quality or combustion issues. A thorough home performance analysis (commonly called a home energy audit) can ensure that your home is healthy with all its elements working well together.
If there are home health problems, a home performance contractor can prescribe the appropriate construction improvements or system retrofits. The whole-house approach means this can be done in a way that best meets the wants of the homeowner as well as the needs of the house.
While you perceive benefits such as being warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, breathing fresher air, and having lower energy bills, the increase in the house’s efficiency also means a lower carbon footprint. Improving the nation’s residential carbon use by 25% is equivalent to doubling the gas mileage of all the nation’s cars.
Thanks to an increasing number of articles in the mass media, along with state and federal tax credits and incentives, the public is beginning to understand that home performance is an important part of the energy solution, but there is a long way to go. The non-profit organization Efficiency First is working in Washington, D.C. to effect legislation that will incentivize based on performance, rather than products. Certain jurisdictions are already requiring an audit before a home can be put up for sale, and as metrics become more centralized, an energy score (much like a car’s MPG) may end up on the real estate listings.
In Washington State, a new trade association—Home Performance Washington—has formed to address the growing demand for home performance contractors and related companies. Their mission is to increase public awareness, set the standard for the work that is performed, support conservation programs, and work with local, regional, and national organizations to support the industry.
The great news is that hiring a home performance contractor to retrofit your home usually does not cost a fortune; the most common improvements are quick, easy, and affordable—with immediately detectable results for the health of your home and your enjoyment of it.
So just as an apple a day may keep the doctor away, doing a home performance retrofit can keep the energy losses at bay.
Alison Kartiganer is the Operations Manager for Vesta Home Performance Retrofitting