Retrofit Your Attic for Comfort and PV Readiness
By Leslie Crenna
Homeowners seeking a more comfortable home environment need search no longer. Through a new partnership — Retrofit Your Attic — between Davis Energy Group and Cool Davis, two contractors are offering Davis homeowners price breaks on home energy assessments and attic retrofit measures beginning this September 21 through December 1, 2013.
Homeowners schedule a $99 home energy assessment to evaluate their home for leakage and to estimate eligibility for state rebates. The assessment includes a blower door test to measure leakage and duct blaster, HVAC system, flow hood, and combustion appliance zone tests, plus infrared photography.
Sealing attic penetrations as well as heating and cooling system ducts, and adding attic insulation may be recommended first steps.
According to Pepper Smith, director of residential programs for Davis Energy Group and co-project manager, Green Home Solutions and Brower Mechanical’s BPI certified technicians can complete the retrofit at a cost of “$2500 to $4000 after rebates.
The Energy Upgrade California rebate for this recommended package of improvements including sealing is currently $1000 but can range up to $4500 depending on “predicted energy savings” (energyupgradeca.org).
Stephanie Rodriguez, who manages sales, administration, and construction staff for Green Home Solutions, strives “to ensure that all homeowners are taken care of from start to finish,” from facilitating low interest financing to taking care of rebates, tax credits and financing paperwork. Green Home Solutions will waive the assessment fee for homeowners who purchase attic retrofit measures.
“Attic insulation is a thermal barrier that keeps a home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Without proper levels of attic insulation, the home either will experience high utility bills or be uncomfortable and usually both,” said Rodriguez.
Attic insulation is a thermal barrier that keeps a home cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
Davis Energy Group take the lead
Davis Energy Group initiated the retrofit project effort as part of a US Department of Energy Building America grant. Smith and Mark Berman, president of Davis Energy Group, are co-managing the project whose main purpose is to gather and analyze household-level data on the effect of attic retrofit measures.
Chrissy Backman, a mechanical engineer who consults with DEG, is leading the Retrofit Your Attic effort in her own Birch Lane neighborhood.
“I am trying good old neighbor-to-neighbor outreach.” Backman said, “In a single-story home, the attic can have the most significant heat transfer potential. Properly insulating it is guaranteed to make your home more comfortable.”
Backman models energy efficiency for buildings in her work with DEG and is the originator of the action-based project moniker.
Cool Davis does outreach
Cool Davis will assist with community outreach, including targeting older homes and neighborhoods most likely to benefit from attic retrofits. Executive Director Chris Granger notes, “According to the Cool Climate Network, a typical Davis household could save 2900 to 3400 pounds of CO2e per year by taking these [retrofit] actions.”
Attic Retrofit is a top priority
“For homeowners with ailing HVAC equipment or those considering solar PV systems,” Granger advises, “attic retrofit measures should always be completed [first] so the energy footprint of the household is the lowest it can be. . . . Solar PV and HVAC systems are expensive. A homeowner should . . . maximize their household efficiency first.”
Backman agrees: “Energy efficiency should come first to minimize the amount of PV needed for a home.”
Rodriguez has a striking phrase to characterize the situation: “Putting solar on a home that lacks energy efficiency and comfort is like putting a band aid over a bullet wound. . . . Once [energy efficiency measures are taken], the homeowner can usually purchase a smaller photovoltaic system.”
Duane Knickerbocker, vice president of Brower Mechanical, added, “[retrofitting your] attic is usually the most cost-effective energy upgrade a residential customer can [do] to their home.” He encourages customers with a catchy motto: “Reduce Before You Produce.”
“Reduce Before You Produce.”
“Buyers appreciate a home that is well- insulated and energy-efficient. A more comfortable home and lower utility bills absolutely add re-sale value to a home,” confirmed local real estate agent Kim Merrell Lamb.
Even if now is not the right time for making home improvements, Granger hopes households have a home assessment completed, so they can make a plan for becoming more energy-efficient in the near future.
Both contractors will have staff on hand at the Cool Davis Festival, Saturday, October 12, 8am to 1:30pm at Central Park in Davis, to answer questions and schedule assessments. Homeowners who register interest at the Festival will be entered into a drawing for a free home energy assessment. Or visit www.cooldavis .org for contact information.
Interested homeowners and landlords should contact the contractors at:
Green Home Solutions.877-984-7873 www.GreenByGrupe.com
Brower Mechanical, Inc 888-624-0808www. BrowerMechanical.com
Cool Davis is a coalition of citizens, the City of Davis, and community organizations working to empower our community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.