Home Performance: Two Simple Words That Say A Lot


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Home Performance are two words you hear a lot more often lately, especially in the last five years.

Let’s narrow the focus to that first word: Home.

Simply mention that word and it evokes pleasant memories for most. Memories of peace, happiness, and good times. A place to go for solace or comfort. (Where is he going with this?)

So, if you are now considering, researching, or practicing home performance, are you actually practicing what you preach?

Are you comfortable in your own home? Does your home need HP work?

Have you done it yet?

Do you walk the talk?

In the last couple of years I laid the gauntlet down for myself, I had significant home performance work done to my home. Then moved. And did it again.

I had the work done because the homes needed it, but also because I wanted to fathom the customer experience.

Therefore, I feel “comfortable” challenging you to do the same.

I vowed to take “reasonable measures” to make my home perform. And in my case home performance prioritized as: comfort first, then re-sale value, then energy savings.

Also, we didn’t swallow one big pill. We did it in two or three waves* as there was always prep work on our part (clear out the stored items in the attic, basement area, etc.) and we had to continue living in the house while building material and insulation hoses were taking up space and providing minor inconvenience, in spite of how careful and gracious our contractors were being. (* We’ll come back to this point later.)

Then there’s the diagnostics. The “fun stuff”: data, which my spreadsheet-oriented mind likes to see. I took the day off work and followed “Dr.” Rhett Major (The Energy Doctor), my contractor, around taking notes and snapping photos as he did the audit and the work.

For our comfort issues, we focused on air leakage as the main villain to attack. (In many cases, this is true.)

In our most recent home, a solid, well-maintained structure with typical “birth defects” from its 1980 construction, our Blower door test-in was scary.

4218 CFM @50 Pa (CFM50) or 8.5 air changes per hour @50 Pa (ACH50). Yikes!

Our goal was to achieve 3163 CFM50 (6.3 ACH50).

The first wave of fixes included attic air-sealing (top plates, plumbing chase, simple, but custom attic hatch, sealing can lights) and insulation tested out at 3470 CFM50 or 7 ACH50. So we weren’t yet at goal.

Part of the audit recommendation was new replacement windows as the old ones leaked air quite a bit. So we used the re-sale value criteria, bit the bullet and replaced the windows.

After new windows, and blower door guided air sealing (including sealing interior window trim, garage to basement connection and leaks in exposed ductwork at furnace and in garage), we got it down to 2389 CFM50 (4.8 ACH50) or a 43% reduction in CFM50.

Well in excess of our CFM50 goal of 25%, but nowhere near the level of 3 ACH50 for good new home construction (see www.bit.ly/airleakage)

Returning to the note on accomplishing these measures in steps: this presents a business opportunity for clients of your home performance work. You don’t have to sell the whole package at once. Home performance work is a process. Something you can sell to customers in phases. Phases that match their budget and priorities. Phases that marry your customers to you for a long time.

We started off with some touchy-feely comments, but that is exactly the point.

Home performance work is personal. You are dealing with a customer’s home.

And if you haven’t taken the home performance journey yourself how can you effectively sell it?

Get comfortable with the notion you need to walk the talk.


Posted In: Building Performance, Residential Buildings

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