Find out more about the concept behind Home Performance, the different considerations under it, and how knowing these can help you have a safer and more comfortable home.
When buying a new home, many folks are now making the choice towards green living and better energy efficiency. As homebuyers or homeowners, we’re all looking not just at the physical structure which is our home, but also at home equipment, as well as appliances with the ENERGY STAR seal of approval.
And this is what home performance is all about.
Home performance is the science of building or improving your residence with the goal of making it not just safe and comfortable, but also as energy-efficient and as durable as you possibly can. Home performance not only considers the physical structure of your domicile, but also the mechanical equipment, and its occupants.
With this in mind, homes with this ENERGY STAR seal of approval are a lot more desirable than those without it. Homeowners and homebuyers both can rest assured that they have a better-quality home in terms of energy efficiency, durability, and comfort.
What is the Energy Star Program All About?
ENERGY STAR is a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) voluntary program that helps new homeowners save money and protect our climate through more energy-efficient construction and best practices.
Residences that have earned the ENERGY STAR seal of approval have gone through a rigorous certification process to meet the strict EPA requirements and guidelines.
Home Performance with ENERGY STAR is a comprehensive, whole-house approach to improving energy efficiency and comfort at home while helping to protect the environment and fight global warming.
So, rather than focusing on one, single problem, like an old heating or cooling system, not enough insulation in the attic, or leaky windows, Home Performance with ENERGY STAR looks at how the improvements throughout your home can work together to give you the best results.
As of October 2021, two million homes in the United States now have the ENERGY STAR seal of approval.
What is the SMUD Home Performance Program All About?
Different cities in the United States may have their own iteration of a Home Performance Program, but let’s go ahead and take a closer look at the HPP of the City of Sacramento.
The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) provides complete energy solutions and rebates to its customers, powering the community for well over 70 years.
Through the city of Sacramento’s Home Performance Program (HPP), residences can be upgraded using a more energy-efficient whole-house approach for more savings, better comforts, and options for rebates and financing.
SMUD-certified neighborhood contractors will come to inspect your home and give you a recommendation on:
- What improvements you would need to get ENERGY STAR-certified,
- What sort of timeline you’ll likely need to get the improvements done,
- And which rebate packages and financing options are available to you given your schedule and budget.
What Do I Need to Know About the Home Performance Program Assessment?
The Home Performance Program (HPP) with ENERGY STAR assessment is an evaluation done by an accredited contractor which involves an interview with you (the homeowner) so that they may better understand the concerns you have about your home’s performance.
Through this assessment, your contractor can find out your more top-of-mind issues, such as high energy bills, cold floors in the kitchen, or an upstairs bedroom that’s too warm in the summer.
After the interview, the contractor will evaluate your home to determine where improvements are needed. They will inspect your home inside and out, including the heating, cooling equipment, duct systems, and even lighting and appliances.
Your contractor will also inspect your attic, basement, or crawlspace, if you have one, and may run diagnostic tests, such as a blower door or duct blaster, or use an infrared camera to find the trouble spots.
Your contractor may also review your utility bills to compare them to similar homes in your area.
What Recommendations are Commonly Given to Improve My Home Performance?
Each home’s problems are different, but there are some recommendations that your home performance contractors frequently make.
Air Sealing and Adding Insulation
Possibly the critical first step to improving the energy efficiency of your home is sealing air leaks and adding insulation, where it’s needed.
As far as Sacramento homes go, in our experience, the biggest air leaks are likely to be found in your attic or your basement.
In the attic, you may not have enough insulation or you may have air leaks around pipes and chimneys or around recessed lighting. Your contractor may recommend sealing these and adding more insulation.
In the basement, leaks are commonly found around the edge of the house, where the basement walls meet the floor above. We also find leaks around doors, windows, and pipes. Your contractor may recommend sealing these leaks with caulk or expanding foam. They may also recommend insulating the basement walls.
Other places that might have air leaks or insulation issues: are crawlspaces and main living areas.
If your home has a crawlspace, leaks can draw in cold air in the winter and humid air in the summer, making your home less comfortable all year round. Here, your contractor may recommend lining the floor with plastic to keep the dampness out, and sealing and insulating the crawlspace walls.
You and your family spend most of your time here, in the main living space of the house. This is where you often feel problems, like air leaks around doors, windows, and pipes under sinks. Sealing these leaks can eliminate drafts and may keep out dust and pests.
Heating and Cooling
While newer heating and cooling systems likely already have the government’s ENERGY STAR seal of approval, much older equipment models– those that are more than 10 years old– might need to be replaced entirely.
Installed correctly, these high-efficiency units can save up to 10% on your annual utility bills. You can get additional savings by installing and using an ENERGY STAR-qualified programmable thermostat. Used correctly, it can save you up to $180 a year on your heating and cooling costs.
Ducts are part of your home’s heating and cooling system. If your home has forced-air heating or central cooling, ducts move air from those systems to the rooms throughout your home.
Now you might have noticed that some rooms are never comfortable, regardless of how you might have programmed your thermostat. It’s likely because these rooms are not getting the right amount of heated or cooled air. And that might be due to the fact that your ducts have gaps, leaks, or tears.
Sealing leaks and making sure ducts are straight and properly connected and insulated where needed will greatly improve your home’s comfort and energy efficiency.
Lighting and Appliances
Energy used for lighting and appliances accounts for nearly half your utility bill, so there’s a big opportunity to get energy savings simply by installing energy-efficient models that have earned the government’s ENERGY STAR seal of approval.
Buying products with this mark means you’re actively doing your part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Once energy-efficiency improvements have been made to your home, your contractor may recommend other measures, like installing solar panels or a solar hot-water system.
Remember, these are the most common recommendations. Your contractor will work with you and your family to determine the best improvements for your home.
What are the Next Steps After My Home Performance Assessment?
After the evaluation, your contractor will prepare a detailed work proposal. They can also show you how the recommended improvements can qualify for special financing or other incentives where available.
Once you decide which improvements to make, your home performance contractor will help you get the job done right. When the work is completed, your contractor may run another set of tests to show the difference the improvements have made.
Local Home Performance with ENERGY STAR sponsors also spot-checks contractors’ work, so you can have added confidence that your job will be done correctly.
A Final Word About Improving Your Home Performance
Home Performance Programs may vary from state to state and even city by city, but homeowners look into their HPP options to not only have a more energy-efficient, eco-friendly, and comfortable home but to also maximize energy savings and other local incentives.
For the neighborhoods in and around Sacramento, All Year’s Home Performance contractors are Energy Upgrade California-approved. Through our careful inspection and evaluation, we can help you apply for the CHF, HERO, mPOWER, SMUD, and Ygrene Financing Programs.
Serving the Sacramento community for over 45 years, All Year also services the neighborhoods of Roseville, El Dorado County, and Placer County.
Get in touch with the All Year team today and find out more about our Home Performance Programs in Sacramento, as well as other programs you might be qualified for. Give us a call at 916-922-7796.