Home Performance – The Three Steps Toward Efficiency and Health

The burgeoning Home Performance movement applies building science and advanced diagnostic tools to increase home energy efficiency, comfort, safety and health. Most homeowners lose big bucks every day through leaks in their house. (Hear that giant sucking sound? It is the sound of energy dollars escaping through the walls.) The field of Home Performance aims to staunch this outflow of energy and money, reducing carbon emissions as well as household heating budgets.

The promise? Slowing climate change while easing the strain of rising energy costs on families.

In the Home Performance process, certified home energy experts uncover hidden causes of poor energy efficiency, poor indoor air quality, and thermal discomfort in homes and then prescribe improvements to transform the way residential structures feel and perform. The process involves three key steps:

  1. Home Performance Assessment.
  2. Also known as home energy audits, these house-as-a-system analyses by certified technicians evaluate a home’s building components and systems, measure how these building elements are (or are not) functioning, and model energy flows throughout the house. These assessments provide building analysts with a thorough understanding of a house and what needs fixing or improving.

  3. Report of Improvement Options.
  4. Any home performance expert worth his or her salt will then provide homeowners with a comprehensive report of the home’s level of energy efficiency, safety and health, along with a detailed menu of improvement options. This menu will include comparisons of savings and time-to-payback to assist the homeowner in prioritizing which improvements to pursue first.

  5. Performance Improvements and Incentive Coordination.
  6. The final step is to work with a qualified contractor to execute the most cost-effective performance improvements. Because lots of government incentives are available to offset costs associated with this work, Home Performance contractors will often coordinate with relevant agencies and assist with required paperwork to ensure that clients receive every possible incentive. In Portland, for instance, the key agency is Energy Trust of Oregon.

Homeowners sometimes overlook home energy efficiency and health because they involve systems that we do not see: duct work, furnaces, and the inner workings of the building envelope. But the performance of these hidden systems is as important as eye-catching floors and cabinetry in creating livable home environments.

Homes should be as healthy as they are beautiful.

Donna J. Seymour