Energy Upgrade California™ Home Upgrade is designed to take the “whole house” approach to energy efficiency. Instead of simply changing an old furnace out with a newer, more efficient model, Home Upgrade contractors are trained to look at the energy systems in your home as a whole and identify a project scope that will increase your home’s efficiency overall.
One example of the whole house approach is with furnace change outs. A Home Upgrade contractor will not only recommend the most efficient equipment, but will also take a look at your duct system and attic space to ensure that the hot air from the furnace is being directed into the home (and not the attic) and that your home retains that heat when you need it with proper insulation.
Most old homes experience significant building envelope leakage. Recessed lighting fixtures, older windows and doors, and space around plumbing and electrical pipes are the most common culprits for air leakage. These gaps allow heated air to escape your home, especially when you are running your furnace because of positive pressure. Sealing gaps in your building envelope provide the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to saving energy because you will see a drop your utility bill and experience and increase in home comfort without having to invest in a new furnace.
The same principles of air sealing apply to duct sealing. One of the added benefits of sealing your ducts are that for crawl space and attic dwelling duct systems, sealing leaky ducts will greatly improve air quality. This is because leaky ducts suck in air around it and distribute that air to registers around that house. Sealing ducts off from the dust and dirt in the attic and crawl space will ensure that that dirty air does not circulate into your home.
Insulation is very important for regulating the temperature in your house. A well-insulated home will stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Insulation needs to be installed properly to generate the most benefit for your home.
You may be wondering, “How can a contractor tell if a building envelope or duct system is leaking?” Luckily, contractors use specialized measuring equipment like a blower door, duct blaster, and thermal imager to help them identify the problem areas in a home without having to tear down drywall or dismantle duct systems. Licensed contractors can rent testing equipment through the Marin Builders Association's Lending Tool Library.