While making energy saving improvements to your home is backed by both APS, SRP, and the Department of Energy's Home Performance With Energy Star Program, there are many unethical companies out there that are taking advantage of these programs and making a bad name for those home performance companies that are doing things right. Many of the unethical companies are using the APS and SRP program as a cover, making it appear that they follow the strict guidelines of their program by simply using their logos, mixing the solar rebate program with the home performance rebates, and taking the rebates off the top of the costs so it appears you are getting the rebate when actually it is just a smoke and mirrors trick. These companies are hurting both homeowners and home performance contractors alike.
Here are some guidelines to help you spot a phony from a real home performance contractor.
1. The company has called you from an auto dialer blast.
2. The company rep does not go past the attic hatch in their inspection of your attic (the pros know this is where the majority of your problems lie and it's not just about adding insulation or radiant barriers)
3. The company rep does not complete a blower door test or a full energy audit on your home.
4. The green energy company rep is not BPI certified. This is the basic certification all energy consultants will have to know what to look for in your home and to give you energy saving recommendations based on what your home needs.
5. The company will start at a price point in the range of $20,000 for a solar/ solar water heater/ radiant barrier/ solar attic fan package.
6. The company will not perform a test-out audit with a blower door fan.
Here is what you can ask the green energy company to protect yourself from buying something that will not fix your hot and cold rooms or make your home more energy efficient.
1. The green energy companies BPI certification and make sure the energy consultant at your home is BPI certified.
2. Call APS and SRP at (602) 532-2991 to verify they are on the Home Performance With Energy Star Program.
3. Your energy consultant should talk to you about at a minimum hour air leakage, duct leakage, room pressure and duct static pressure. These are part of the required tests all APS and SRP certified companies need to do or their inspection.
4. You should complete a home performance authorization form found on APS and SRP's website.
Don't get us wrong, there is nothing wrong with solar electricity or solar hot water heaters. The danger or harm comes from homeowners thinking they are making their home more energy efficient when many issues are still left unfixed. and there is usually a plethora of things that were never even tested for, much less addressed. Issues like air balancing, high room pressures, high static pressure, insulation that is installed wrong, air barriers that leave the house uninsulated and overpromising the cost savings from radiant barriers. An additional benefit to using a home performance contractor is that the utility companies will audit our work, so you have another party watching your back.
Disclaimer: Green ID's energy auditors are all BPI Certified. Green ID's founder, David Byrnes, is a BPI trainer and LEED AP professional. We do not recommend radiant barrier products without first addressing a homes' priority needs by performing a whole home energy audit.
Want to convert your garage into living space or just cool down your garage during the hot summer months? Here is a list of what you need to know to make your garage a conditioned space.
1. Cover your walls and/ or garage door panels with a radiant barrier bubble wrap product, foam board or insulation. A radiant barrier bubble wrap is an effective and easy product to install. It can be bought online and will reflect radiant heat back out to the outside. It will help lower the temperature in your garage from a couple degrees to ten degrees depending on the orientation of the garage door panels.
2. Check the size of your AC system. A rule of thumb is 400 sq ft of cooling per ton, so if you have a 5 ton AC system, you have the cooling capacity for a 2000 sq ft home. Now the rule can vary greatly depending on how energy efficient your house is, including duct leakage, insulation installation and level, heat gain and room pressures. The cooling capacity is also dependent on the ductwork design and layout. A poor layout and design can greatly undercut the systems cooling capacity.
3. Add more insulation to the garage attic, go for at least 10" of cellulose insulation or 14" of fiberglass insulation.
4. Decide on how best to cool your garage, you have a few options here.
4.1 Put in new ductwork tapped into the existing ductwork. You will need to decide or consult with home performance contractor where to tap into the existing ductwork and what size line you need. A two car garage is usually 20x30 ft or a 600 sq ft area. This is the size of a master bedroom area so you will quite a bit of airflow to adequately cool the garage. Your garage may never cool enough to the inside of your home. We always go with a duct with a slightly oversized scoop and a dampener with a larger duct reducing a step down for the actual delivery of the air.
4.2 a ductless mini split AC system. This is another viable alternative that is more of a sure thing to cool your garage without taking air away from your home. The cooling capacity not be enough in our experience even if you insulate the walls in our experience. A mini split with new ducts has been successful in a converted garage to a man cave movie room we did the ductwork and insulation on.
4.3 An evaporative cooler or swamp cooler in the wall with no ductwork. This is a great option that is perfect for 2-3 months out of the year. Evap cooling during the summer months will be impossible so it may not be what you are looking for.
4.4 A window AC unit installed. You may need a larger unit unit and even then it will be hard to adequately cool the garage space.
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