If your home was built before 2001 you likely qualify for up to $5000 to make your home healthy, comfortable, and energy efficient through the Bay Area Regional Energy Network (BayREN). These tax free incentives are only available through participating contractors -- like Applied Building Science.
If funding your project is an issue, we also work with the Sonoma County Energy Independence Program (SCEIP). SCEIP provides Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing for residential energy efficiency upgrades.
What we can do to make your home more comfortable in the winter and the summer:
Most ABS projects begin with a no-obligation visit from an ABS Building Analyst trained and certified by the Building Performance Institute. A BPI Building Analyst is trained to evaluate uncontrolled air leakage into and out of a home, and to identify heating and cooling problems that lead to high energy costs, health problems, and occupant discomfort. He or she will first listen carefully to your concerns, then carefully examine the floor, exterior walls, windows and doors, and ceiling of your thermal enclosure. They will also examine and evaluate the major mechanical systems of your home, including the heat source, cooling source, ducting, water heater, and other energy using appliances.
Depending on their observations and your desires they may then feel they have enough information to recommend and price a comprehensive retrofit, or they may recommend energy audit testing, much like a physician may recommend additional lab work after a basic physical.
A primary function of our homes is to maintain the temperature of its living space within the “comfort zone” regardless of the temperature outside. For humans this is roughly between 68 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit. This is done primarily with two mechanisms: the “thermal enclosure” and a “comfort system” to replace the heated or cooled air passing through the thermal shell. Heat flow from warmer to cooler cannot be stopped but it can greatly be slowed with sufficient quality insulation. Inadequate insulation and air leakage are leading causes houses that are uncomfortable.
There are a variety of insulation types: batts, blown in, or rigid sheets; fiberglass, cotton, mineral wool, mineral fiber, cellulose, and even has its advantages and disadvantages. Almost all house built before 2000 have inadequate insulation values. According to ENERGY STAR®, you can put new insulation over old insulation, “unless it is wet” However rat or mouse contaminated insulation must be removes, contaminated drywall ceilings sealed, and all new insulation installed.
Homeowners can save up to 30% of their energy costs by air sealing the multiple points of your home where conditioned air can escape and unconditioned air can enter. Houses typically have a great amount of leaks between the interior and the exterior of the house. We find them with an test instrument called a blower door. (picture) Sealing your home against air infiltration (air leaking in from the outside) and air ex-filtration (air leaking from inside of the house to the outside) helps to reduce your energy expenditures and keep your conditioned air inside your thermal enclosure to keep you warm.
Additionally, air leaks are also a major cause of discomfort, moisture problems and even poor air quality. In this regard the thermal enclosure functions much like the thermal enclosure of a refrigerator. If a refrigerator has a leaky door seal or somehow has holes in its sides, it will use much more energy to run, and still not keep its contents properly conditioned. The same is true of your thermal enclosure.
HVAC installations, even today, are notorious for being improperly sized and poorly installed. This translates to an uncomfortable living space and higher utility bills. Updating your home's comfort system coupled with other energy saving measures can allow you to downsize your system by as much as 70%, resulting in lower energy bills and a more comfortable home. Mini-split comfort systems are the future of residential HVAC in California. They both heat and cool using less energy than their natural gas and traditional electric counterparts.
Window technology has improved enormously over the last 30 years; updating your old windows can make all the difference for your comfort at home. New window coatings allow customization based on climate and exposure for letting radiant heat in/out of the home. Double and triple glazed windows greatly reduce conductive heat transfer between the inside and outside of the house. Better framing materials and construction create much more air tight windows preventing convective heat loss. If you're suffering with single pane windows but are afraid of the cost of replacement, new remodel windows can be installed for a fraction of the labor cost of traditional windows.