VEES Home Inspection Offers Home Energy Inspections
What is a Home energy Report?
It takes a lot of energy to heat, cool and operate a home. Most homebuyers have no idea how much it will cost them to operate their home once they move in. Homeowners do not fully understand how much energy and, therefore, money is being wasted by their home. And if they did understand, they wouldn't know what to do about it.
The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) are embarking upon an effort to develop a national program to assess the energy performance of every home in America and lead homeowners toward investing in home energy improvements.
InterNACHI’s Home Energy Inspection Program includes:
- empowering 15,000 Home Energy Inspectors™ with the Home Energy Report™;
- inspecting every home in America; and
- educating current and prospective homeowners about saving energy, increasing comfort, and protecting the environment.
As the world’s largest organization of home inspectors who perform more than 10,000 property inspections nationwide every day, InterNACHI will help American homeowners maintain safe, healthy and energy-efficient homes.
Throwing Money Away
Most homeowners throw away the equivalent of a 42" flat-screen TV every year in wasted energy. They’re throwing away a brand new mountain bike or a really nice gas grill, or a weekend getaway vacation--because their home is wasting energy. And wasting energy is like throwing away money.
The typical American home wastes energy. We know that out of the 130 million homes in the U.S., 80 million were built between 1980 and 2000, which means that they pre-date modern energy standards and are associated with higher energy use and operating costs per square foot. We also know that the average American household spends about $2,500 on energy every year. But what most homeowners don’t know is that about 30% of that energy--and 30% of that money--is wasted.
Many homeowners could save hundreds of dollars every year without really changing their lifestyle. InterNACHI’s Home Energy Report™ provides simple, basic, prescriptive measures that millions of homeowners can take to reduce their energy bills, while making their homes more comfortable, and use that money for something they really want.
Home Energy Report™
The InterNACHI Home Energy Report™ is an Internet-based tool that enables inspectors to:
- estimate a home's energy costs and;
- generate an online report that provides recommendations on how to save energy, increase comfort, and protect the environment.
Note: InterNACHI's Home Energy Report™ is not the Home Energy Score.
How Does It Work?
The Home Energy Report™ was developed by InterNACHI to be:
- a reporting tool for Home Energy Inspectors™; and
- an affordable inspection service for current and prospective homeowners.
A Home Energy Inspector™ can complete a Home Energy Report™ in an extra 10 minutes, if done as part of a general home inspection, and in less than one hour, if done as a stand-alone inspection service. It is not a comprehensive energy audit and no diagnostic tools are needed. The Home Energy Inspector™ is not an energy auditor. Home Energy Inspectors™ are trained and certified by InterNACHI.
To generate a Home Energy Report™, the Home Energy Inspector™ conducts a brief walk-through of the home and collects about 40 data points related to energy, essentially the same data gathered during a general home inspection. The Home Energy Inspector™ then uses a reporting tool that interfaces with the Home Energy Saver™ of the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the engine that powers InterNACHI's Home Energy Report™.
The Home Energy Saver™ interface portal is the world's most comprehensive web service for home energy analysis. The Home Energy Saver™ engine helps empower the Home Energy Inspector™ to:
- produce a report in a matter of seconds;
- collect and save home-description information from customers;
- compute a home’s energy use, cost, and carbon footprint on-line in a matter of seconds based on state-of-the-art models and data for any location in the United States;
- perform operational or asset ratings;
- estimate the relative importance of specific end uses (heating, cooling, water heating, major appliances, small appliances, and lighting);
- generate a list of energy-saving upgrade recommendations;
- create a payback-ranked list of energy-efficiency improvements;
- generate a wide range of summary and drill-down reports; and
- produce an InterNACHI Home Energy Report™ in a matter of seconds.
Home Energy Report™ is Online
The online report supports the way people learn today -- online.
Because the report is online, it is essentially a customer Web portal that provides informative content and personalized advice designed to engage the consumer through interaction. Through the report, current and prospective homeowners can do some research, make informed decisions, and take energy-saving action on their own. The tool is designed to provide a meaningful customer experience and understanding and guide homeowners to make the decisions that will have the greatest impact on reductions in energy use and, subsequently, greenhouse gas emissions.
The information provided is dynamic and always adapting to the homeowner’s needs and actions. Video, surprise features, images, and a compendium of resources are quickly accessible with a mere click. Each time the homeowner visits the online report, the information can change. Recommendations change according to the energy-saving actions that the homeowner takes. As each action step is taken, the energy savings and return-on-investment estimates dynamically adjust.
The report encourages homeowners to do the basics today. For example, they can replace inefficient light bulbs with ENERGY STAR® bulbs, install efficient showerheads and faucet aerators, add some weatherstripping around doors and windows, and wrap insulation around pipes. The report then highlights two or three additional measures that will yield the biggest return on investment--usually, some air sealing and climate-appropriate insulation.
Homeowners appreciate straightforward, simple information that is clearly presented and easy to understand. They also want a report with customized recommendations that is easy to read. Consumers care about the bottom line. However, many are misinformed about which home energy improvements will pay off more quickly and save the most energy. Many don't realize that home energy improvements can also improve the comfort of their homes, as well as their families' health and safety, not to mention their home's potential resale value.
The online report provides each homeowner a prescriptive package of energy upgrades designed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) that's tailored to the property location’s climate and is expected to deliver at least 20-40% in energy savings, which is in line with the goal of the DOE’s Better Buildings Program. Research suggests that a prescriptive approach is an effective alternative to a more comprehensive and costly energy audit.
The Home Energy Report™ applies a fixed, standardized retrofit cost (from NREL's National Residential Efficiency Measures Database) and generates recommendations that provide the highest performance level with a payback time of 10 years or less.
The following two categories and specific upgrades are currently recommended by the report:
Type 1: Improvements and upgrades recommended now--these can help save energy right away:
- add attic insulation
- add basement/crawlspace wall insulation
- add basement/crawlspace floor insulation
- check air tightness around doors and windows
- check exterior walls
- seal ducts
- insulate ducts
Type 2: Recommendations for when equipment needs to be replaced—these recommendations will help save energy when it's time to replace or upgrade equipment or systems:
- service or upgrade central air conditioner
- service or upgrade boiler, furnace or heat pump
- service or upgrade room air conditioner
- evaluate the roof's reflectance
- evaluate/add insulated sheathing to roof
- service or add skylights
- add or upgrade insulated sheathing to siding
- service or upgrade water heater
- evaluate/upgrade windows
The recommendations are ordered according to how quickly they will pay back on the homeowner's investment. Those with the fastest and greatest payback are listed first. The payback is calculated based on a national database of estimated installation costs and average utility rates for the homeowner's state. Carbon reduction is based on a database of estimated average carbon release from power plants in the home’s region.
It's important to note that the sum of the savings from the individual measures in the recommendations section of the report (near the end of the report) may not equal the total savings for the package of selected upgrades (the number near the beginning of the report). The difference is due to interactive effects of individual energy improvements. When improvements reduce energy consumption within the same end-use (e.g. a window upgrade plus an air-conditioner upgrade), the resulting dollar savings is less than the sum of the savings shown for the individual improvements.
Accuracy of the Energy Calculations
U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's Home Energy Saver™ is the engine that powers InterNACHI's Home Energy Report™. In 2012, with leadership from the Florida Solar Energy Center, the DOE's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory completed an unprecedented accuracy assessment of the Home Energy Saver™ model.
The tool was found to be extremely accurate (within 1% across groups of dissimilar homes), when given high-quality inputs including not only about the physical characteristics of the building but also how appliances and other equipment are operated by occupants.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has completed an assessment analogous to what was attempted in the Oregon EPS study, i.e., under a special use case in which HES, REM/Rate, and SIMPLE are utilized in an "asset rating" mode, which holds occupant behavior so as to isolate the effects of building envelope and equipment. They found that HES predictions agreed almost perfectly with actual bills, on average, across a sample of 885 occupied homes in Oregon (same cohort as the EPS study), Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Carolina and Texas.
Accuracy is strongly proportional to the quality and completeness of inputs, yet energy audit data are often deficient. Predictions are best—and the tendency of models to over-predict actual consumption is mitigated—when behavioral inputs match actual conditions. When averaged across groups of homes, Home Energy Saver™ (HES) predicts energy use within 1% of actual consumption when physical characteristics and occupant behavior are well accounted for. New research findings promise to confer even greater accuracy as they are incorporated into simulation tools.