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NH Energy Audit

Post in 'The Green Room' started by peakbagger, Oct 17, 2011.

  1. peakbagger

    peakbagger Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2008
    Messages:
    1,718
    Loc:
    Northern NH
    I had a NH energy star audit performed on my house recently. I paid $100 for about 3 hours worth of work and if I institute any of the recomended changes, I get the $100 back. The utility also subsidizes any upgrades to the tune of 50%. In order to qualify, the house needs to use more energy than the current code. They do consider wood usage as well as oil or natural gas as long as you have records. They didnt really question me on wood usage as I cut and split my own. I have a reasonably new and tight house so most folks would be able to qualify.

    There are three primary tasks to the audit.

    Set up a blower door and negatively pressurize the house and determine the leakage into house at a fixed static pressure. Once the door is setup, the auditor roams the house looking for air leaks primarilly on exterior walls. I did pretty well on the air leakage test with my leakage ending up at 80% of the recomended. Not enough for a heat exchanger but a recomendation to install a new bathroom fan with timer. I did get a fair share of leakage through some of my outlets, definitely some on my concrete sills and along one interior knee wall that was not sealed to the floor. Despite some insulation on my whole house fan, I got significant leakage which is going to require a wooden box to be installed in the attic. I also had a couple of recessed can lights that need draft proofing

    Test oil boiler efficiency - this is a standard boiler test done every year during tune up. I got 84% which is in the range of prior tests

    Attic and crawl space inspection - This basically determined if there is a need for addtional insulation. Only part of my house is finished on the second floor which presented some challenges. The auditor really likes foam as opposed to fiberglass. I also have a knee wall on 3/4 of the attic that was insulated, the auditor recomended foaming the exterior roof in this area (after installation of proper vents) rather than the knee wall. They also recomended spraying foam along the upper edge of the wall in the soffit vents (obviously without blocking them).

    There are additional items on the audit including appliance efficiency standards. I have energy star appliances so we didnt spend a lot of time on it. I also have solar hot water so we didnt spend a lot of time on hot water.

    I will get a written report in two weeks and an itemized estimate for upgrades. I was planning on getting my sills foamed but previously that was too small of a job to get a contractor on site at a reasonable cost, I expect if the price is right I will more get foam done and consider replacing the exhaust fan and recessed lights. Obviously it depends on the contractor markup. One of the concerns is that the utility will only work with certain contractors, so are they going to mark up the work higher than then going rate?

    Overall a worthwhile but not that surprising results so far. If I can justify getting a foam contractor on site and getting some foam sprayed with a 50% rebate without an outrageous markup its going to be worth the audit.

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  2. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

    Joined:
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    2,419
    Loc:
    SW Virginia
    We recently had an energy audit like this also.

    When researching how to address some of the issues found I discovered that spray foam is very expensive whether by contractor, DIY (Tiger), or small can. If you can do the work yourself its much more cost effective to seal/insulate areas like skirts (aka bands and maybe what you're calling a "sill") with foam board sealed in place with canned foam or caulk.

    I found the best approach to be a hybrid where foam board is used to seal and provide a first layer of thermal insulation and then batt or dense-packed cellulose is used for additional thermal insulation in whatever space is left.
  3. peakbagger

    peakbagger Minister of Fire

    Joined:
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    Northern NH
    I would not normally consider doing large areas with foam for strictly insulative value of foam but do think it works well for infiltration (although carpenter ants love to nest in it). The 50 % rebate for installed cost definitely is a factor in considering it but I will definitely make comparisions.

    The sill is the board that contacts the concrete foundation. I have "sill seal" which is a foam strip but it still leaks. Usually a foam contractor will spray over this seam and down over the concrete wall. On top of the sills are the floor joists that extend out the outer edge of the foundation. I have a piece of foam board stuffed in the pockets formed with fiberglass bats on top (great way to use up small pieces of foam).
  4. billb3

    billb3 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2007
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    3,518
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    SE Mass
    Just had an energy audit here in Ma.
    I needed 13 cfl, a programmable thermostat and a lower flow shower head. :)
    They send a private contractor out to do the gap seal in the attic and basement rim joist and Nstar pays for it .
    They do a door blower/vacuum test before and after that work .

    Need 6 more inches of insulation and there are tax credits and rebates that apply to 1/3 of the upgrade.


    oil furnace needs to be replaced, there are rebates / tax credits and 0% loans available depending on which burner we go with.
    all through MassSave. Worth the two hours and it's free.
  5. bogydave

    bogydave Minister of Fire

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    So Cent ALASKA
    Alaska has the same. The program was just funded again.
    A little different here, You get the audit, have 18 months to make the improvements, then get the finished audit which (based on points) decides the refund %.
    So I diid allot of the work & the 2nd audit verified it was done right. Got more done for the $$ by being able to DIY.
    A good deal for sure.
    Our problem is the few qualified "auditors" makes for a 2 to 3 week wait after you schedule. A good problem, since it show that many folks are improving their homes.
    A very good program.
    Also, as b3 mentioned, there are some Federal Income Tax "energy" rebates/credits out there too.
    Great part is the improvements pay you back (tax free) every year you live in the house. A "WIN WIN" +
  6. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    Holliston, MA USA
    Hmmm, this doesn't seem right. If you spray foam the roof decking, you make the crawlspace behind the kneewal part of the conditioned space of the house. This becomes a "hot roof" setup and you need to seal the vents. If you don't, you have outside air on both sides f the insulation and it does no good.
  7. peakbagger

    peakbagger Minister of Fire

    Joined:
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    Northern NH
    Sorry for the misunderstanding. I believe the concept is to install propervent from the soffits up to roof to above the knee wall. Then seal off the soffits from the interior space while leaving the soffits open to vent up through the proper vent. While in the soffit space they would spray the section of exterior wall at the end of the floor joists with foam while making sure that the soffit vents stay open to the proper vents. Then they spray in foam over the proper vents up to the top of the knee wall. I would still keep insulation in my knee wall. The crawl space would become an unheated interior space somehwhat heated by heat coming up from the floor (which is insulated). Sounds to me like a plot to spray more foam as compared to spraying the kneewall.

    The auditor is qualified to do the audit but I am waiting for the foam contractor to contact me to get details.
  8. peakbagger

    peakbagger Minister of Fire

    Joined:
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    Northern NH
    I finally got the work recomended by the energy audit complete and audited a couple of times. The paperwork is showing before and after. I take the projection with a grain of salt but I really have no way of making a good comparson as I put my storage on line during the same timeframe. The house is a 20 year old modular with a split of Anderson casements and double hung windows. I did finish a large bedroom with 6" walls with 1/2" of isoboard under the sheetrock and also redid one 6" wall with a flash and batt in the cavity with 1/2' iso board on top of the studs.

    Given the numbers I guess I am at the point of diminishing returns. My share was just about $2,000 with the utility paying $2,000.

    Attached Files:

  9. wannabegreener

    wannabegreener Member

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2010
    Messages:
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    Loc:
    Southern NH
    I had the same program in nh. The company that did mine suggested

    1 air seal. My house was 600-700 cfm over the suggested number
    2 add 6.5 inches of insulation to the attic and install some cover over the attic pull down staircase.
    3 they give you 6 cfl bulbs for free.
    4 they wanted to insulate my basement ceiling with r19. My cost on it was just over 800 and I can buy the material for about 300. If I bump it to r30, my material cost about $500. Ill do that work myself

    they are supposed to start next week. My total cost will be about $1000 and should be a 4 year payback.

    The website to see if you qualify is

    http://www.nhsaves.com/homeheating/
  10. peakbagger

    peakbagger Minister of Fire

    Joined:
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    Loc:
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    Its a great program but there are some things to consider when the work is done.

    The auditor that does the initial and final audit is "independent" in name only there is a strong link between the auditor and the contractor. I expect that quality issues on the installation are not going to be brought up with the customer. When I let the contractor know that my house was selected for the PSNH post audit, they came back and did some rework before PSNH's auditor came. I am not sure how much would have been redone if it was regular auditor. Realistically the blower door only tracks infiltraton. It doesnt track R-value so as long as they spray the cracks, quality issues with insulation are strictly visual.

    The biggest issues I had were,

    Poor air sealing around can lights and and whole house fan. They fixed the can light issue but had to rework the fan completely.

    The foam was sprayed on a cold day and possibly too thickly. The result was the foam pulling away from the joists over the course of a few days. They had to come back and fill these cracks with additional foam.

    In general it was a good process and if you have any issues PSNH will gladly assist as they are paying for half. Just inspect the work after the fact and let the contractor know if there are ommisions
  11. wannabegreener

    wannabegreener Member

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    In my case, my auditor is my contractor. Kind of a conflict of interest, but I will be here when they do it. The air sealing they do is blower door assisted, so when they are done, I expect to see a difference in the blower door results. I'll post my results/comments when they are done.
  12. wannabegreener

    wannabegreener Member

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    Loc:
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    Im having a different company coming back to do the final audit. They are going to do the blower door test again. My first number was 2397 and the recommended number for the house was 1750. After air sealing, the new number is 1515. A little tight, but they said it should be fine. The follow up audit will be done next Wednesday.

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