On Monday morning, I met with two men: Sean Zobaa of Home Energy Team and one of BPI’s board members who owns a 60 employee energy audit company in California. Yes, I said 60 employees! He admitted that none of his clients come to him because of some tax credit nonsense. Surprisingly, he also admitted that they didn’t come to him for energy savings either! Why do they hire him then? His clients are in 2 main camps: Those trying to solve health issues by looking at indoor air quality… and those who are interested in improving comfort. Health and comfort… not tax credits or energy bills. I learned more from that meeting about the future of energy audits than I ever learned prior to the meeting. A real eye-opener.
That has been my experience as well. While the energy tax credits are nice, they help to pay for any improvements, it is mainly about health and comfort. Most of my callers are young mothers and are concerned about their new kid, mold, cold drafts, colds and the flu and all. The energy savings and the tax credits are, mostly, just cream.
One other avenue that I have been persuing. For new construction, many times the insulation was installed improperly. The builder claims that they used the proper materials, with regards to R values. I am hired to do an independent evaluation of the functional R value and find air intrusion problems (easy to do with just the IR camera) and document it. If given to the local building dept guys, they can (and do) order the builder to make the insulation compliant.
Remember the old inspector verbiage, “Not performing as designed because of improper installation.”
Then, some times, the builder hires me to supervize the new install.
Hey, money is money.
I did an energy loss IR inspection just a few days ago. Here is the clients Home Guage response: “Excellent and professional. Thank you for taking the time to explain the what where how and why. I would highly recommend you to anyone”. He was concerned about cold spots and drafts which I pointed out as we went through the home. With the IR camera and a smoke tube he could see with his own eyes where his problem areas are.
Bingo, that is what I referring to when I said there is more money in paving your own path. Even if a company could completly survive off the stimulus money, what are they going to do in 2 years. The stimulus/tax credit business model is a horrible one. If you can get this type of work or incentives for your customers, then it is a great way to spring board your company, but over the long term it is not a viable business model.
Leave the Obama money to the government organizations that are doing the work for the states. The real business model should be to do amazing work and save people real money on a montly basis and make their home more comfortable. Write white pages on thsoe customers and also use them as references for future customers. Word of mouth is the best business to have in the world. Rewarding, larger margins and basically zero cost of advertising…among other things.
How are you finding leaks of warm air exfiltration at the leeward side of the house in winds, at the upper areas of house from stack effect, and at areas of the house where there exists a neutral pressure plane with no air leakage in or out. How do you find air leaks when indoor and outdoor temps are the same? It has been my experience that to find all air leakage with IR, you need the blower door to suck cold/hot air(depends which climate you live in) and make all leaks visible to the IR.
BTW, when I trained to be a US certified energy auditor (1981- Cornerstones School of Building, Brunswick, ME), there was a gent from a Chicago company (Potential Energy Incorporated) whose company was using IR with blower door to find air leaks…and that was 1981!!!
Throw in low delta T situations where a blower door would show a better IR signature where you might not even have one without.
Some say people doing energy audits without an IR camera are 1/2 blind, I believe the other way around holds true as well.
1981? Did that guy wheel that thing in on flat bed truck? I have seen the systems from the late 80’s and they were on a dolly.
It was probably a really big home.
The engineer we used in 1980 to scan some of the houses we blew with insulation had an AGA Thermovision 700 series unit. It was big compared to today and only gave a fuzzy black and white image.
It probably weighed 25 lbs. The front with a 4x4 inch screen was about 5"x12" with a depth of 12-14" that was supported by a chest/shoulder brace. The IR sensing device was super-cooled with liquid nitrogen before imaging began.
I couldn’t agree with you more! One thing I would like to add, as the consumer becomes educated through all this they will expect a certain standard of measurement.
This is the important factor I think most miss
Brian, aside from all the jargon, here is something that you have to realize, in our area. I have never seen a house (new or old) that had less than 15 ACH. No one, around here, air seals. A blower door is usually not needed. I just turn on the bathroom and stove vents and turn on the clothes dryer to air fluff and see many areas of infiltration. When there is no delta T (usually only for a month or two in spring and summer) I use a smoke pen and fogger. It does n’t take much to find air leaks when they are so many and when you are experienced with where to look, given the common building techniques in this area.
As I have stated, most customers don’t want an detailed, formal, quantitative audit. They want to know where the problems are, how to prioritize and fix them and where to find professionals who know how to fix them properly.
Also, many HVAC people around here are a joke and don’t know the proper way to install high efficiency furnaces (no combustion air intakes run). Doesn’t take a genius to call this out and save them 10% efficiency on the heating gas costs.
Hope this helps;
Check out David Valley’s blog over at Linked-In in regards to the use of blower doors.
I would particularly pay attention to the comments from:
L. Terry Clausing, P.E.
BPI Certified Building Analyst & Envelop Proctor/Instructor
ASNT Certified NDT Level III Thermal Infrared Thermography
Posted there. Thanks for the heads-up, Linus.
Don’t you just love it when P.E.'s speak down to us poor, lowly home inspectors? :mrgreen:
I don’t feel he was speaking down to anyone. His comments are on point!! Sorry Will, but your posts here and over at LinkedIn shows your ignorance on the subject of blower doors. On that thread you indicated that you have certifications from BPI and that you have done comparisons with/with-out the Blower Door per BPI Standards.
So, just to be clear…Are you a BPI Certified Building Analyst and do you own a Blower Door?
Can you take this course and then take the BPI exam without take the BPI course?
Why spend all your money on certification and be an out of work building analyst when you can do it for a few hundred $$$.
Linus is 100% correct on those resources, you will have a very good shot at passing the exam with those. However, you are required to do field audits, and that is where you can run in to issues. A lot of the field auditors/proctors for BPI are super swamped right now. They also know they can sometimes charge whatever they want to do your field exams. I have found it is just better to go through a certified BPI training facility that includes the BPI exam and field audits right in their training.
Training materials + exam fee + field audits could be a lot more than $1595 (average price through out the country). If you are in AZ there is a local company here that does it for $875 (Peter did his training there) and if you are an AZ business/resident APS will kick you back 50% of that.
Clean Edison is nationwide and a little birdy told me they will soon have a BPI/Resnet all in one class. Here is a link to all their current BPI offerings throughout the country.
Anyone who comments on blower doors that does not own one and use it daily clearly does not know what they’re talking about.
I went through the Energy Audit course (and passed the test, yay!). It is a good starter to doing energy audits, but not even close to being enough training to do an evaluation properly in my opinion. Auditors have to realize that being a good energy auditor goes way beyond a good training course. It takes countless hours of research on products and building science just to scratch the surface of the energy field. I have personally done over 500 energy evaluations, and consider myself very good at what I do, but I also realize that I still have alot to learn. I believe continuing education is extremely important in the energy field. You can spend hundreds of hours learning something, then only to find out there has been 10 new things that have been developed since you started. If there has been one main thing i have learned it is that just when you think you have learned it all…its time to start all over again! I guess thats why I love what I do. There, thats my 2 cents worth.