Energy Audits & HERS Ratings:
(some of the following excerpts are from www.natresnet.org/ratings/overview/default.htm )
Home energy ratings (HERS) provide a standard measurement of a home's energy efficiency.  Consider a HERS Rating for a home like you would the MPG rating for a car – they are both quantifying standards used to compare energy efficiency performance.  Ratings are used for both new and existing homes.  In new homes, ratings often verify energy performance for the EnergyStar® homes program, energy efficient mortgages (EEM’s), and energy code compliance.  Homeowners who want to upgrade the home's energy efficiency can use the energy rating to evaluate and pinpoint specific, cost-effective improvements.  For existing homes, homeowners can receive a report listing cost-effective options for improving the home's energy rating (a Cost Improvement Analysis).  An energy rating also allows a homebuyer to easily compare the energy performance of the homes being considered.
There are two types of ratings:

Confirmed ratings involve an on-site inspection of a home by our residential energy efficiency professionals, also called a home energy rater.  Our home energy raters were trained and Nationally Certified by a RESNET accredited home energy rater training provider, the Kansas Building Science Institute www.kansasbuildingscience.com/ with ratings and quality control oversight provided by the Energy and Environmental Ratings Alliance www.ratingsalliance.org/.
Our home energy raters review the home to identify its energy characteristics, such as insulation levels, construction type & age, window efficiency, wall-to-window ratios, the heating and cooling system efficiency, the solar orientation of the home, and the water heating system. Performance testing, such as a blower door test for air leakage and duct leakage, is usually part of the rating.
The data gathered is entered into REM/Rate (a RESNET and Department of Energy accredited computer program) which computes several reports, including its HERS rating score. The home receives a score between 0 and 500, depending on its relative efficiency.  Zero (0) represents a Zero energy use home, and a 500 would be a tent in the Artic Circle, with 100 being the average/standard new home.  An estimate of the home's energy costs is also provided in the report.
Unlike an energy audit or a weatherization assessment, a home energy rating is a recognized tool in the mortgage industry. Home energy ratings can be used in a variety of ways in the housing industry. The rating score provides an easily understandable means to compare more efficient homes by their relative energy efficiency, since a rating quantifies the energy performance of a home.

 

Depending on the scope of work required or requested, Paradigm Energy Services offers 3 primary types of custom Home Energy Audits/HERS Ratings for existing structures:

  1. Comprehensive Energy Audit w/Cost Improvement Analysis & HERS Rating
  1. Comprehensive Energy Audit WITHOUT Cost Improvement Analysis
  1. Basic Energy Audit

Paradigm Energy Services also offers HERS Ratings & EnergyStar® Certification for New Construction.

Please visit www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=new_homes.hm_index for additional information.

 

What types of things do we look at when we perform an Energy Audit &/or Rate a home? 

Depending on the scope of the Audit, Rating or Inspection requested or required, the following shows you some of the components and features of a home we inspect and analyze.

Appliances – We may use specialized tools to monitor the electrical draw of your most demanding appliances.  Your appliances will be compared to some of the most efficient appliances on the market to determine saving and payback of upgrading.  Your auditor will identify "phantom loads", or devices that draw electrical current even when powered off, and suggest ways of avoiding these hidden loads.

Lighting - We note and record the type and style of lighting in your home to provide you with energy savings and payback information on switching to high efficiency lighting.  You will receive detailed information about different bulb choices and reviews to help you choose high efficiency bulbs for your entire home.

Windows & Doors – Most people automatically think they need new windows as a first step towards energy efficiency – THIS IS TYPICALLY FALSE!  Most windows and doors often do need to be more appropriately sealed (trim removed & jams foamed/caulked), but not replaced.  Most windows take 50-75 years to pay for themselves with energy savings!

Insulation - We will analyze your current type and thickness of attic, wall & foundation insulation, compare it to the most effective types for that location and determine if, how much and what type of additional insulation would be beneficial.

HVAC Equipment – Being trained in HVAC engineering and system design, we will analyze your Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning equipment, enabling us to compare it to the most efficient equipment available and estimate yearly cost savings and payback of an upgraded system.

Blower Door Testing – The Blower Door is basically a large industrial fan, complete with pressure gauges and air-flow meters, that allow us to determine and record air leakage rates and infiltration from the outside.  By pinpointing major leakage points and areas, we will suggest ways to keep more of the conditioned air in, and the unconditioned outside air out.  Stopping air leakage points may be one of your biggest energy saving opportunities, often for very nominal cost.

Duct Leakage - A Duct Blaster tool may be required to determine if your heating and cooling ductwork contains any leaks to the outside, which may be drastically decreasing the efficiency of your system.  Your energy auditor may also analyze duct insulation.

Infrared Thermography - A state-of-the-art infrared camera may be used to develop thermal images of your walls and ceilings to identify weak points of insulation, air infiltration & potential moisture areas.  This may also be used during the blower-door test to pinpoint problem areas.

Energy Bills – We may ask to view & analyze your past year or years monthly utility bills. We can identify how your usage compares to national and local averages, and work to pinpoint your main power consumers.

Energy Usage and Habits - We will develop several energy saving tips, based on your specific lifestyle and energy usage.  We can input your temperature settings, lighting usage, and hours your home is occupied to tailor recommendations for energy savings.

 

Some Energy Audit Report Options:

Personalized Computer Energy Modeling – Your entire home may be precisely entered into home energy modeling software.  Exact type and amount of insulation currently installed, window and door measurements, construction materials used for all walls, ceilings, attics and foundations, and HVAC equipment in your home are all used to create a model of your home.  This is information gathered during the audit and used to customize your report so we can prioritize your best course of action.

Detailed Energy Report – Depending on the scope of your Audit, you may be provided with a detailed report showing each aspect of your home that was analyzed.  These reports will include estimates of annual energy costs for your current products and systems, which is shown compared to the most energy efficient appliances and materials.  This report may also include suggested appliances, products, or procedures for each analysis point with estimated yearly costs and payback.  This easy-to-read report will lay out many diverse ways for you to save energy, with detailed financial information to help you decide what changes or improvements are best for you!  Your auditor will be available to answer any questions you have about your energy report during our follow-up consult.

HERS Rating/EnergyStar® Report – We will analyze every aspect of your home's usage for our most comprehensive report.  All pertinent information regarding your home will be entered into specialized software to determine how your home compares to a baseline energy efficient home on the HERS (Home Energy Rating Standard) rating scale.  The HERS rating scale was developed by the Department of Energy and RESNET and is the nationally recognized method used by EnergyStar to determine what homes and buildings can officially be qualified as EnergyStar rated.  This EnergyStar report is required for the Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM) program or as proof of your EnergyStar rating when selling your home.

Paradigm Energy Report – This is our custom ‘flagship’ summary report that Ric has been developing for years.  After Rics’ initial several audits, he realized that while the Infrared reporting software and the Energy Modeling software all include lots of great information, it still fell short of being able to offer clients not actively involved in the ‘building sciences community’ a full grasp of how to appropriately remedy many of the common issues found in most homes or buildings.  In addition, most area contractors and builders are not yet fully up to speed on ‘Building Performance Contracting’ and what all is involved in safe and effective energy efficiency improvement upgrades.

So in an attempt to fill some of that gap, we have developed the ‘Paradigm Energy Report.’  This summary report template, included with all of our Comprehensive Energy Audits, allows us to import the most pertinent information from the various reporting software programs, as well as digital and infrared photos, in order to provide very easy to understand remedy information, educational & ‘how-to’ links and various local contacts information.  This way both the home or building owner, as well as the potential contractor, are made aware of the issues at hand, and the best ways and options for remedying the issues found during our Energy Audit Inspection.

 

Commercial, Industrial & Municipal Energy Audits

Paradigm Energy Services offers individually tailored audit services for Commercial and Industrial buildings, offices, churches, schools, retail locations, etc.  Audit programs are also offered for towns and municipalities.

Obviously, the Commercial, Industrial & Municipal markets have very different energy requirements, unique to their particular situations.  However, there does seem to be one consistent thread throughout these markets – large, if not huge energy use and costs.  Often in very large structures with energy intensive uses, these present many areas of dramatic efficiency improvement opportunities.

There are lots of Energy Optimization Rebates, Grants and Tax Incentives currently available, and Energy Audits not only provide the necessary efficiency improvement prioritization information, but they are often the required first step in acquiring access to many of these funds. 

Because the energy needs and consumption patterns very so greatly within the Commercial, Industrial & Municipal markets, the scope of the Energy Assessment & the associated costs can very dramatically.  Please contact us to receive more information and a custom proposal for your energy assessment needs.

 

Infrared Thermal Imaging:

Infrared Thermal Imaging has changed the way we are able to assess a building and the performance of its components.  We utilize Infrared Cameras & Thermography for residential, commercial, industrial & municipal buildings to evaluate hidden problems, including insulation deficiencies, air infiltration locations, water leakage and potential moisture and mold areas.  We often use Infrared technology in conjunction with a Blower Door, which depressurizes the building, dramatically accentuating any air-infiltration issues and other potential problem areas.  The Thermal Images are then analyzed and put into a very graphic and easy to understand report.  If your Energy Audit includes our Paradigm Energy Report, then the Infrared Report you will receive will be a ‘Reference Report,’ with image descriptions being included in the summary.  If you request a stand alone Infrared Analysis, your Infrared Report will include detailed descriptions of each image – what is being looked at, why those conditions may exist, and options of how they might be remedied.

            Stand Alone Residential Infrared Thermal Analysis  ~  $300+

 

Next Generation Home Inspections:

Paradigm Energy Services also offers Comprehensive Home Inspection services for the real estate market, brokers, lenders and home purchasers or sellers.  Our background allows us to be uniquely positioned within the ‘home inspection industry,’ being the first in region, if not the Midwest, to offer comprehensive home inspection services that can incorporate Energy Audit & Home Energy Rating Standards (HERS) into the equation – the Next Generation Home Inspection! 

Typical home inspections fall short in offering the whole picture of how a home operates or performs.  Being able to project energy costs and pinpoint energy efficiency attributes, or shortcomings, offers the home buyer a much broader picture of a homes true operating costs.  This also offers the home seller the opportunity to either showcase efficiency improvements made, or points to cost effective improvements that could be made to more effectively and competitively market the home.

A HERS Rated home also opens the home buyer up to additional financing options such as the Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM) that allows various needed energy efficient improvements be rolled into the mortgage, and actually creating a net positive cash flow for the home owner, while increasing the homes value!

As Realtors, Brokers and Lenders become more familiar with these energy efficiency & financing tools, HERS Ratings & Energy Audits will become a regular component of home transactions.  There are already several states around the country that require an Energy Audit and homes to be HERS rated at the time of sale.

EnergyStar® & Green Building Certifications:

Paradigm Energy Services offers Certifications & Verifications for all of the major National Certification programs including the Department of Energy’s EnergyStar® www.energystar.gov , US Green Build Council’s various LEED programs www.usgbc.org , and the National Association of Home Builders ‘Green Building Standards’ www.nahbgreen.org

Energy Efficiency & Green Design Consulting:

We are the Energy Efficiency & Green Design Experts!  No matter what the project – we are the most prudent first step in making that project the Greenest & most Energy Efficient available.  We are setting the New Energy Paradigm – Finding solutions that are both ecologically and economically viable!

Whether you are re-roofing or siding your house, wanting natural light at the office, Solar Panels at your School, or just want to know the most cost effective energy saving improvements to make - we have the Experience, Knowledge, Passion & Expertise required to provide the residential, commercial & industrial markets with not only the necessary analysis and diagnostic capabilities, but the education and experience needed for successful project design and completion.

Renewable Energy Site Assessment:

Efficiency First!
Where energy savings for a building or facility is involved, every dollar you spend on energy efficiency will save up to three dollars on the cost of your renewable energy system. This is because the more efficient your building or facility is, the smaller the renewable energy system can be to meet your energy needs.  The cheapest energy is the energy you don’t have to produce!

A Renewable Energy Site Assessment includes a physical review of your location's suitability for a renewable energy system, an overview analysis of your energy consumption, and a recommendation of the most appropriate solutions for your home or business.

For Solar Electric (PV) or Solar Hot Water Systems, we utilize a ‘Solar Pathfinder’ www.solarpathfinder.com/ to determine how much solar radiation is hitting any given location.  We can use the Solar Pathfinder anytime of the day or year, and from that we can calculate that locations Solar Radiation for the entire year!

Want to put up a solar system but aren’t sure if a few trees should stay or go – don’t just cut them down & see what happens – let us calculate the difference, trees or no trees, with the software!  It allows us to cut out any obstructions digitally, and calculate the change in production based on those changes!

Most Solar Site Assessments cost between $250-300, depending on the size and number of locations being assessed.