Healthy Homes 13: Energy Efficiency Course

This thread is dedicated exclusively for those students currently enrolled in InterNACHI’s free, Healthy Homes 13: Energy Efficiency Course.

Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to: identify systems of a home that can be made energy efficient; understand principals regarding R-values for insulation; discuss solar energy; discuss ways for home-owners to create an energy efficient home.

Students are free to pose questions and comments here and join in the conversation with other students. The thread will be monitored by the course instructor.

Contact: Chief Academic Officer, Ben Gromicko ben@internachi.org

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

Insulation is important but the type of insulation used is just as important. This is an image of vermiculite found in the attic of a recent inspection. Sometimes pealing back the layers can uncover serious health issues. Knowing how to deal with and report these issues to the client is key.

Research & Writing Assignment:

There is a good article in the library, 10 ways to save energy in your home. Based on personal experience I recently purchased and installed a WiFi thermostat that is programmable and accessible with my phone. Since it is used in a vacation home the cost savings has been enormous. No more leaving the hose with the temp on hold while noone is there. The saving has more than paid for the cost of the stat!

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

The first solar cell was created in 1880. In 1931 a German scientist developed a solar cell that converted less than 1% of the light it was exposed to. Today, solar arrays are being utilized everywhere. The price has become affordable and the cells produced today are very efficient.

Research & Writing Assignment:

I chose the article entitled, “10 Easy Ways to Save Money & Energy in Your Home”. I found the article very informative and interesting.

The statistics that were listed under each method of saving were eye openers. I found it very interesting that PC monitors attributed to 3 % of your energy bill.

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

Fiberglass batt insulation has been installed between the rafters and under the roof decking on the roof structure. While this application should lend some insulating qualities to the roof itself, over time the insulation will sag thereby reducing its effectiveness. A better solution in my opinion would be a radiant shield or barrier. The individual shield panels will provide more insulating properties while maintaining their position within the space.

Research & Writing Assignment:

The image chosen is that of air leak locations. One of the major sources of air leaks is the lack of caulking or sealant on exterior wall penetrations. Of particular concern in caulking around windows and doors. Old caulking should be removed and windows and doors re-caulked to help improve energy efficiency of the home.

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

The attached photo shows blown in insulation placed over fiberglass batt insulation that is showing signs of settling. This should probably be re-evaluated by a qualified insulation contractor to determine cause and correction. It would appear additional insulation should be installed by a qualified contractor.

Research & Writing Assignment:

The article on Energy Star program criticized has some eye opening information on the program itself and how easily it can be defrauded. This happens when bureaucracies become so large they cannot be adequately monitored. With that said, it makes sense to be diligent in researching various Energy Star rated appliances before purchasing to ensure you are getting what you pay for.

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

The picture shows a 50 gallon gas hot water heater that is 18 years old and is nearing the end of its useful life. The water heater needs seismic retaining straps to secure it from falling over in case of earth quake. The current strapping looks like weed barrier fabric that is held in place by two romex staples. This is a defect that needs to be corrected.
It is recommended that a licensed professional be called in to do the work.

Research & Writing Assignment:

The article “Window Gas Fills: What Inspectors And Consumers Need To Know” points out that typically argon or krypton gas is pumped between the window glass panes in order to improve thermal efficiency. The argon or krypton gas will eventually leak out from between the window panes. It can take as many as 20 years for a window to lose its gas and thermal properties an which time replacement should be considered.

Research & Writing Assignment:

The use of a thermal imaging camera is a great choice and a valuable tool in the inspection and evaluation of a residential home’s building envelope. Adding thermal images to your inspection report is a quick and easy way to show heat loss while adding an additional appearance of professionalism to your report.

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

The Proper installation of a residential home’s wall and flooring insulation is key to improving comfort while help lowering your monthly and annual energy costs. Cutting corners or improper installation technics can greatly reduce the associated benefits with this practice.

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

My personal effort to have an energy efficient home includes two Heat Pump Water Heaters. HPWHs use about 40% less electricity that an electric water heater that is common in the northwest. They take heat from the air and blow out cold air, thus tend to work best in non-conditioned spaces such as garages. Some units are ducted to the exterior. HPWH also produce condensate so they need a drain or condensate pump to discharge to the exterior or a drain. I like how they cool the garage in the hot summer!

Research & Writing Assignment:

I read an article about solar panel theft. I never thought of this but I have seen pv panels for sale on craigslist and facebook marketplace. Why would someone be selling pv panels? They don’t work or are stolen would be the most probable answers. Someone who invested to have a PV system on their roof probably would not be selling panels. Older panels were less efficient and reliable than newer ones. I also learned those thieves go to google earth to see where panels are.

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

sky lighting , is a kind of lighting heating sourse for a home more lighting then heating but can help with some heating, this course is about energy efficiency weather electric power or solar energy and can be a big savings on your monthly bills.

Research & Writing Assignment:

saving on your energy bill , there are things that can be done around your home that will just cost a few bucks at a time that will just about take one third off your bill. from window stripping to making sure that your electical cover plate is the right size and fits snug around the outlet or wall fitting.

Research & Writing Assignment:

According to Healthy Homes, Part 13: Energy Efficiency Course, all homeowners must consider windows–installation details, caulking, emissivity, reflectivity, frame materials–, ceiling and wall insulation R-values, the roofing color, solar orientation , shading, ventilation and many other things to achieve reasonable energy efficiency and sustainability.

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

The pitched roof on the south side was observed with apparent attention to optimal overhang principles for solar efficiency. This condition is indicative of high performance construction practice and assures passive solar heat gains in the winter and resistance to unwanted heat gains in the summer. Some minor detailing may be improved for enhanced efficiency. A qualified specialist is suggested, e.g. licensed energy assessor/contractor for further recommendations if desired.

Inspection & Writing Assignment:

When inspecting for energy efficiency, I look at the windows for air leaks, cracked/broken glass, and weather stripping. Also, I look for the same conditions around exterior doors. I check insulation at all locations that are visible and accessible. I often times recommend to the client ways to conserve energy and save money.