FAQs

Q?

What is an energy check up? Why is an energy audit important?

A.

The answers these questions depend on you, and what you want. There are a wide range of options and outputs of an energy analysis. Often called an energy audit, our energy check-up will show you problems that, when corrected, could save you a significant amount of money and a few headaches, and increase comfort to problem areas in your building.

Much like your doctor asking, “What brings you in today?” it all starts with a discussion. We want to know what concerns you may have about your building, and what expectations you may have for this checkup. We’ll ask about your property’s history, what your utilities look like, any concerns you have about your property. Maybe you have one room that’s freezing in winter and really hot in summer. Perhaps one room is always really cold, or another room never seems to get cold enough. Throwing more energy at the problem in terms of an HVAC overhaul may not be the best solution, and likely won’t be the cheapest.

During our energy check-up, we will send our highly trained experts to provide diagnostic testing on your building, so we can provide some solutions to your discomfort. We do a health and safety check of your home or building. We monitor carbon monoxide levels, and assess detriments to indoor air quality. Then we get into your comfort—we analyze the hot and cold spots, the stuffy areas, weird odors, and anything else. We’ll then create a prescription, identifying and prioritizing improvements such as air sealing opportunities and insulation levels, heating and cooling system efficiencies as applicable, and hot water system efficiency. From there we generate a report for you indicating where your home or building is and where it could be. At the end of the day, if we can save you some energy on your utilities and spare you any discomfort, wouldn’t you agree it’s a win-win-win for you, your wallet, and the environment?

So let us know what’s been bothering you, and we’ll help diagnose the problem and prescribe the best solution for you. Our experts will explain the whole process to you; what we bring to the table, what we look for, what we need from you in the process, and what you can expect from your personalized energy and comfort check-up.

Q?

What about solar energy / net zero energy?

A.

Eco Achievers assist clients in delivering verified performance, but unless your bank account and budget are quite large, living the dream of a home powered by renewables has to be grounded in a sound building shell. We like the phrase Energy Efficiency > Energy Conservation > Energy from Renewables. In other words, every dollar you spend on efficiency will not only payback quicker and deliver more comfort, but it will also reduce the amount of solar energy necessary to take your home to truly zero net energy over an annual basis.

Q?

Why should you call us and get an energy checkup before replacing your windows?

A.

Maybe you’re thinking, “I heard replacing my windows will save me thousands of dollars, and there’s a tax credit. Therefore, I need new windows.” Just as you wouldn't walk into the dentist and ask for a root canal for a tooth that has a bit of sensitivity, we want to help you make the right diagnosis on your building. Before you take drastic, expensive measures like window replacement, keep in mind that your house is a system. There are many things in your house contributing to discomfort and energy waste. There are many cheaper ways to reduce your energy bills before window replacement. Get a home energy checkup to determine the best way to increase your home’s efficiency in the most cost-effective manner. Let us help you get the best bang for your buck.

Q?

How much time should I budget for an energy checkup?

A.

We like to budget at least two hours, but timing depends on the scope of work and your specific concerns. To read more about the process, check out our blog on Energy Checkup's

Q?

What is “home performance?”

A.

It’s like the MPG in your car. Our diagnostics will help us tell you how efficiently your home is performing. Do you want to be in a building that acts like an Oldsmobile, or do you want to be in a BMW?  We can help you map out a strategy to transform your building into a high-performance.

Q?

What is air sealing drafts? How is air sealing helpful to me?

A.

Air sealing is a cost-effective practice to save money and energy. Caulking and weather-stripping are simple, and effective ways to air seal your home. They don’t cost much and yield huge return on investment.  There are many DIY videos and guides online and through your local home improvement stores to help you do this. Let us help you figure out where the best spot to seal would be with one of our comprehensive energy checkups!

Check out the Department of Energy's Air Sealing Map

Q?

Can a home be too tight?

A.

One of the biggest building myths is that homes should be leaky and have to breathe. Truth is, people and animals need to breathe; buildings do not need to breathe. A building’s walls need to be able to dry out when they get wet, and the people inside a building need access to fresh air. But it’s all about control. Wouldn’t you like to control where fresh air is coming from instead of letting musty crawlspace air or hot dusty attic air into your building?

A healthy home is insulated well, tightly built and well ventilated. Air leaks in your walls mean you don’t have control over the air movement in your home. Your building needs properly sized fresh air systems so you keep building occupants happy and healthy. There is no comfort guarantee for a leaky home when it’s 20 degrees below zero. For more information, visit GreenBuildingAdvisor.com.

Q?

What is a blower door?

A.

Overall: The blower door is a machine we use in our energy check-ups and other building diagnostics. The blower door helps to pinpoint air leakage in your building’s envelope (your walls, floors, attic, ) and your duct system. You spend a lot of time in your home and we think you should always be comfortable in it, no matter the time of year! Stop guessing and find out where the issues really are.

The test: Conducting the blower door test helps us quantify airflow through a building. This is similar to finding the hole in an inflatable pool raft. The blower door test helps us determine how big a hole might be in your building; ranging from… the size of a golf ball or smaller on a Passive House to the size of a football field! From there, we can measure heating and cooling wasted through that hole, and help figure out how to cost-effectively make you more comfortable.

The equipment: The blower door is comprised of a calibrated fan that detects air movement, a mounting system to attach the fan to, and seal off, an exterior door, and a manometer that measures pressure in the building with respect to outside. While the blower door is running, we can use other tools such as Infrared Thermal Imaging and smoke puffers to pinpoint areas of wasted energy and heat flow.

Q?

What is green building?

A.

Well, what would you like to know? The International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) sets the standard for the worst building you’re allowed to build without facing litigation, and many of the other certifications, such as Energy Star, LEED, Passive House, and others, raise the bar and set higher standards to ensure your home is well-built, it’s healthy, and you are healthy, safe and happy living inside of it. Eco Achievers will help you meet and exceed these rigorous third-party certification standards.

What is LEED?

LEED is the rating system that measures how “green” a building is. The US Green Building Council created this system. LEED is the recognized international standard for green buildings: a home, an apartment building, offices, hospitals, schools, stores… you name it, there is a tailored version of LEED. Eco Achievers focuses on assisting with multi-family, mixed-use, and single-family LEED projects pursuing LEED for Homes and LEED Multifamily certification.

A “green building” can mean many things, it just depends on what you want it to mean. If your focus is to have a healthier indoor environment, reduce your carbon or water footprint, or simply want to cut back on your energy bills, LEED and other various rating systems provide a framework to achieve those goals. Maybe installing a fresh-air system will do it, maybe planting more drought tolerant plants eliminating irrigation will do it, maybe changing your building orientation, roof design, or adding insulation will. Maybe you want to get rid of your utility bills altogether and become a Zero Energy building!! Whatever it may be, there’s a green building practice that will help you achieve your goal, no matter what that may be.

If air quality matters to you in your home, you may want to think more about materials used during the building process; like low-VOC products, sustainably harvested wood, and potential toxins released during the building process or emitted after construction. Controlled fresh air delivered through mechanical systems is important too. Some green building practices and rating systems focus on healthy-living in this way.