How can I enhance my home's performance?
We checked in with the home performance experts at the Building Performance Institute and this is what they had to say:
Because the house is a system and each component of the home —building envelope (shell), heating, A/C, insulation, mechanical ventilation, appliances and other systems of the home—affects the performance of other parts, BPI recommends homeowners start with a home performance assessment—or energy audit—before you make changes.
Energy audits should be performed by Building Performance Institute (BPI) certified Building Analysts or Energy Auditors. BPI certified professionals are trained to use building science to examine how various systems of the home interact with one another, and how to optimize their combined performance. While there are several things you can do to weatherize your own home, the energy auditor will be able to tell you what you can tackle yourself and what you may need a professional to do.
Following the audit, you will receive an energy audit report that includes a list of recommended improvements, prioritized according to their payback period.
The cost of an energy audit varies. A recent survey of contractors in Michigan found that the average cost of a Comprehensive Home Assessment for a 2,000 square foot home was $275.* The cost for your home may be more or less, depending on the size of your home and which contractor you select. In addition, first check with your utility to see if they have a program that subsidizes the assessment, or provides rebates.
The cost of repairs to your home varies depending on what improvements you choose, and returns on your investment —or payback periods— also vary for each improvement. Your home performance contractor will provide you with a scientific, objective view of the situation. They’ll be able to help you prioritize repairs in order – from must-do to nice-to-do – so you can solve the biggest problems without making smaller problems worse.
Many states and utilities provide subsidies, rebates and low-interest financing to help homeowners with the upfront cost of repairs. Visit the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) at www.dsireusa.org to learn about programs in your area. You can also find an index of Home Performance with ENERGY STAR programs at www.energystar.gov or contact your utility to find out what’s happening locally.
*Source: ICF Participating Contractor Survey, 2013