Value of Energy Retrofits for Air Leaks & Heat Loss
ENERGY RETROFIT BOTTOM LINE - CONTENTS: The bottom line value of energy retrofits for air leaks and heat loss in buildings. How to find, diagnose, & correct air leaks & heat losses in buildings. "House Doctors" survey buildings to find and fix energy losing air & heat leaks
Solar Age Magazine Articles on Renewable Energy, Energy Savings, Construction Practices
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What's the bottom line on figuring the benefit of various energy-savings retrofits?
This article series discusses finding and curing air leaks and heat losses in buildings, here focusing on the bottom line value of energy savings retrofits - where to spend your weatherization and insulation money. This detailed article accompanies a building weatherization and energy-savings company through a detailed building inspection for heat loss points and air leaks.
Our page top photo shows the risk of an insulation blow-in retrofit by an amateur. The heating cost reduction from adding cellulose to the attic floor may be offset by the installer's mistake of knocking down and failing to replace improperly-installed horizontal fiberglass batts on the attic side of a wall between the attic and heated space.
The net gain of this incomplete insulation retrofit may have been small. But properly performed, an energy retrofit that determines the main heat loss points in a building (or un-wanted heat gain during the cooling season) can pay for itself very quickly.
Bottom Line Value on Energy Retrofits for Air Leaks & Heat Loss in buildings
This article series explains how to survey a building for air and heat loss or gain points and how to correct them.
As we introduced above, in this article the author, Steven Bliss, accompanies a building weatherization and energy-savings company through a detailed building inspection for heat loss points, convective loops, and air leaks.
The author accompanies Princeton Energy Partners as they use thermal imaging, smoke guns, and visual inspection to pinpoint building air leaks, heat loss points, air infiltration and air exfiltration on a building.
The importance of setting priorities for sealing these points of energy wasted is emphasized and discussed, and sketches as well as photographs of common points of building heat loss, or unwanted heat gain, and air leaks are provided.
The text below paraphrases, quotes-from, updates, and comments an original article, "House Doctors with Better Medicine, Princeton Energy Partners use the latest diagnostic tools to comb a house for the major causes of heat loss. Their findings are often astonishing. Their strong prescriptions bring results', Steven Bliss, (see links just above) from Solar Age Magazine and written by Steven Bliss.
The Bottom Line on Energy Retrofits Using Caulks and Sealants
Energy retrofitting reduces drafts and cold spots and, according to PEP, produces some unanticipated benefits such as fewer rodent problems and fewer frozen pipes. Still, to sell the service to big buyers - the developers, housing authorities, and government agencies - it has to show an attractive return on investment. Says Gadsby referring to conventional weathersealing treatments, "To do a job for $1200. that's going to save $50. a year is just not the way to do business."
In some cases the savings have been spectacular. For example in a 1982 retrofit, PEP spent three months retrofitting the 450-unit Glenhardie Condominium Comlex near Valley Forge, PA, for $62,000.
The 20-building development already had its insulation and heating system upgraded when it went condo four years earlier. After three months of house-doctoring, consisting solely of attic work, the annual heating bill was reduced from2093 to 1329 therms of natural gas, resulting in a first-year savings of $40,600, not including the $9,300. tax credit.
More typical was a proposal to the Baltimore Housing Authority, in which PEP agreed to treat apartments for $550. each while they were undergoing rehab. PEP's work was to be staged over two to three visits.
With annual heating bills in that housing stock running $1200 to $1300 (1984 costs), the simple payback would be under three years. In terms of air infiltration alone, said Gadsby, recently-built townhouses generally measure in at about 10 to 15 ach (1984 data) at 50 Pascals before house-doctoring and are sealed down to about 6 ach after.
Costs for weatherizing are held down by providing the service in a one-day blitz, or in new construction in a series of quick hits. In general, a weatherization company can do more effective work for less money during construction or rehab than with retrofitting, since the problems are more visible and accessible. The cost to the homeowner was estimated to be one half to two-thirds what it would cost to retrofit after construction, and you're probably going to save an extra 5 to 10 percent on energy costs as well.
Here we include solar energy, solar heating, solar hot water, and related building energy efficiency improvement articles reprinted/adapted/excerpted with permission from Solar Age Magazine - editor Steven Bliss.
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Solar Age Magazine was the official publication of the American Solar Energy Society. The contemporary solar energy magazine associated with the Society is Solar Today. "Established in 1954, the nonprofit American Solar Energy Society (ASES) is the nation's leading association of solar professionals & advocates. Our mission is to inspire an era of energy innovation and speed the transition to a sustainable energy economy. We advance education, research and policy. Leading for more than 50 years.
ASES leads national efforts to increase the use of solar energy, energy efficiency and other sustainable technologies in the U.S. We publish the award-winning SOLAR TODAY magazine, organize and present the ASES National Solar Conference and lead the ASES National Solar Tour – the largest grassroots solar event in the world."
Steve Bliss's Building Advisor at buildingadvisor.com helps homeowners & contractors plan & complete successful building & remodeling projects: buying land, site work, building design, cost estimating, materials & components, & project management through complete construction. Email: email@example.com
Steven Bliss served as editorial director and co-publisher of The Journal of Light Construction for 16 years and previously as building technology editor for Progressive Builder and Solar Age magazines. He worked in the building trades as a carpenter and design/build contractor for more than ten years and holds a masters degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Excerpts from his recent book, Best Practices Guide to Residential Construction, Wiley (November 18, 2005) ISBN-10: 0471648361, ISBN-13: 978-0471648369, appear throughout this website, with permission and courtesy of Wiley & Sons. Best Practices Guide is available from the publisher, J. Wiley & Sons, and also at Amazon.com
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TECHNICAL REFERENCE GUIDE to manufacturer's model and serial number information for heating and cooling equipment, useful for determining the age of heating boilers, furnaces, water heaters is provided by Carson Dunlop, Associates, Toronto - Carson Dunlop Weldon & Associates Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Technical Reference Guide purchased as a single order. Just enter INSPECTATRG in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume.
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