I help people enjoy a more comfortable, efficient and safe home in which to live
Home energy and comfort problems are rarely a simple thing to fix. If they were, people would fix them and move on with their lives. In the real world, though, the causes are often hidden, numerous and interconnected. You could spend a lot of money and time trying to make your home more efficient and comfortable by throwing more insulation in the attic or replacing windows or any number of things. A lot of the folks who sell that stuff will tell you that's just what you need. But if you don't diagnose your specific condition and test again after work is done you will be just guessing. And quite often missing the target. Using specialized testing equipment and good old fashioned legwork I find those hidden issues, propose remedies that are proved to work, and test again after the work is done to make sure the fixes are actually doing what they should.
I don't do the work or sell you anything but the diagnosis, recommendations and follow-up testing.
So, what are these hidden problems and why do I need all these tests?
There are too many to list here, but in most houses, even many built in the last 30 years, suffer from uncontrolled air movement in and out of the building. I know, you say, my doors and windows need weatherstripping and caulking. And they probably do, but you don't need me to spend 3 hours testing to figure that out. You can feel it when the wind blows! Sealing those are important because they make you feel more comfortable near them, where you spend your time. Just don't expect to see a change in your monthly gas bill. The big stuff is where floors meet walls, walls meet attics, chimneys meet attics, above ground walls meet basement walls - what we call building cavities. These can be huge openings, like leaving your door open all day long. You feel cold, but you don't know why because the cold air pretty much goes between floors or in the walls or maybe goes into the basement. We use the blower-door test, infrared camera and a little smoke bottle to locate hidden air leakage.
Indoor humidity - too much or too little - can be controlled
By reducing air leakage houses don't dry out as much in winter. That's because more of the moisture that we produce by breathing, showering, cooking and other sources stays inside, and less of the dry outside air is brought in. If you have the opposite problem - too much humidity along with window condensation in winter - this can be controlled by improving mechanical ventilation and/or raising the temperature of the condensing surface. The best buildings are made to be tight but also have adequate ventilation to allow you to control your environment. We measure overall air leakage and your ventilation to make sure you have the right mix. Hint: that 80 CFM fan probably isn't pulling anywhere near 80 CFM of air from your house.
What about insulation then?
Adequate insulation on all surfaces is absolutely important, but it can't stop the air from moving in and out. Too often I go back into homes that had insulation added but no air sealing done, and they aren't much better than they were before. But after air sealing the insulation works. We calculate your savings from adding insulation to each area so you can decide if it's worth it to you based on annual energy savings.
What does my water heater have to do with my walls?
If you have a water heater, furnace or other "fuel burning appliance" that vents the exhaust up through the roof it needs to be able to draw air up from the basement or wherever it is located. A very "tight" home might not have enough air available, and the exhaust could be pulled back into the house. This, in fact, is a potential problem with some tight homes but there are many solutions including improved venting configuration or a more efficient, power-vented water heater or furnace. We do meticulous testing to find out if this could be a problem and if so, what you can do to deal with it.
Home Energy Solutions
1835 E. Edgewood Dr.
Suite 105 #29
Appleton, WI 54913
John Shillito, BPI Building Analyst