Energy Efficiency plays a big part in Code Compliance these days. From the efficiency of your HVAC equipment, the percentage of efficient lighting in the home, to how “tight” your house is. All of these things have an effect not only on the initial purchase price of your home, but also the amount it will cost you over time.
For many years, energy use wasn’t something considered in the International Residential Code. Even when it was, it wasn’t very well enforced (We’re still working on this one). In fact, it wasn’t until 1978 that there was wide-spread adoption of insulation standards for exterior walls. Before that time, it was basically up to the builder to decide whether installing insulation was a cost effective fit for a home based on the price of utilities in an area.
Today things have changed. Not only must newly installed mechanical equipment be above a certain efficiency, but the whole house needs to be insulated and sealed too. Two new additions to our local codes on Delmarva are the blower door and duct blaster tests. These tests are both run on a home prior to receiving the Certificate of Occupancy.
A blower door test measures the total leakage of a home. It can tell you how much of your conditioned air your home is losing, and where it’s being lost. Tighter homes are more comfortable and save more on energy over their lifetime, plus they have better indoor air-quality than most existing homes. The Code for our area when running a Blower Door test is under three air-exchanges. That means that if we ran a blower door in a home continuously for one hour, all of the air inside the house would only change over as many as three times. That’s tight!
The duct-blaster test is like a mini-blower door. Rather than testing the whole home’s leakage, the duct-blaster is only for the HVAC’s distribution system. In the same way you want your home to be tight, you want you HVAC’s distribution system to be tight as well. If you’ve got leaks in the system, the air you’re paying to heat or cool isn’t getting where it needs to be in the house, and is usually going right to the outdoors.
These tests may not seem so important if you’ve never seen them, but they make a huge difference! The average existing home we test is roughly 75% leakier than a newly constructed home. The duct systems in those existing homes are about 80% leakier than those in new construction. If you’re home isn’t properly weatherized, you’re wasting money and living in a home that could be far more comfortable!
So remember, when you purchase a new home, it’s not only new, it’s more efficient as well. If you are living in an existing home, #CallFLC and let us help to bring your biggest investment into the 21st century!
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