High-Performance Homes Made Simple!
We are here to help you understand high-performance homes – from quick, clear information to exploring the science behind high-performance homes in depth.
Whether you are researching high-performance homes because you purchased a home evaluated by EnergyLogic or you are considering purchasing a home and want to include efficiency and high-performance in your decision-making process, congratulations! You have made a sound buying decision or are on your way to doing so.
What is a high-performance home?
Very few people make a purchasing decision solely based on the aesthetics and sticker price when purchasing a car. We don’t just want a car that looks nice, we want a car that will be safe, easy to maintain and fuel efficient. But often, homeowners don’t know that they can access the same kind of information when purchasing a new home.
A high-performance home has not only been designed and engineered by qualified people, but also has been inspected by certified third-party building science experts. This provides detailed information about the home you are interested in. Depending on programs, such as ENERGY STAR®, and jurisdictionally adopted building codes, information about energy efficiency (the cost of ownership), comfort, durability, health and safety, and high performance can be attained to help you make a more informed decision when purchasing a home.
A high-performance home is one that goes beyond aesthetics and location, one that takes into account the many factors that create a safe, beautiful and efficient environment for your family.
Key Components of a High-Performance Home:
- Energy Efficiency
- 3rd Party Verification
- Meeting Expectations
- Building Science
- Health & Safety
- Codes & Programs
- Have Questions? Ask Robby!
A high-performance home is optimized to use resources efficiently.One of the best ways to determine if a home is high-performance is to look for the home’s Energy Rating Index. The Home Energy Rating System, or HERS® Index, is the most widely utilized index system that describes the energy performance of a home. If you have not been given the HERS Index score for the home you bought, or the one you are considering buying, request it. If the home does not have a rating, its efficiency has not been quantified and it is not a high-performance home.
At EnergyLogic, we independently inspect a home and perform a comprehensive analysis that measures the home's energy performance, which is scored on the index system. The index is like a car’s mile per gallon rating that quantifies the energy performance of a home. However, like a golf score, the index has been developed on a descending scale where lower numbers equal better performance.
Learn More About HERS Scores:
Third-Party Verification = Quality, Efficiency & ComfortEnergyLogic is a third-party inspection and verification company - builders hire us to objectively inspect their homes and to ensure that their homes are built correctly. Our building science systems based approach combined with our understanding of the construction process and details helps ensure better compliance, better performance, and a better chance to meet your expectations for the home.
Construction is a complex process that occurs outside of a controlled factory assembly line process, so the additional set of eyes of third-party verification is a crucial enhancement that your builder has invested in. If you are considering purchasing a home, make sure your builder is working with a qualified third-party inspection company such as EnergyLogic.
We are not even aware of how much we expect or our homes.Simply put, the expectations we have for our homes have dramatically changed since the early 1900’s when people primarily thought of their home as a shelter from the elements. Now we expect much more of our homes: entertainment, convenience, security, health, safety, comfort, durability, beauty, and energy efficiency.
Take comfort for example. In the 1900’s our relatives were willing to put on a sweater in the winter, as they knew the house would not be able to completely meet their needs. Today we want to be able to run around from room to room and floor to floor in our underwear and be “comfortable.”
High-performance homes better meet our modern-day expectations by utilizing applied building science and systems thinking approaches. Since all homes are not high-performance homes, it is important to understand what you expect of the homes you are buying and to ask detailed questions about the homes you are considering purchasing to ensure that your expectations are met. Just because it is new does not mean that it is high-performance. Ask questions.
Applied building science helps us define how we build a high-performance homeApplied building science is the concept that scientific explanations for building failures, successes, and interactions in a house will enable us to better understand how to build houses that perform well. Looking scientifically at house performance has brought us to a better understanding of the relationships between different components in a house and why some assemblies perform better than others. When builders apply this information, they can create houses that continue to evolve and better meet our expectations.
For example, tight construction leads to control and predictability of air-flow in our homes. Air is like a freight train. It carries heat, moisture, and pollutants around and through the assemblies of our homes. Better control and predictability through tight construction and controlled ventilation lead to better being able to create homes that are durable, safe, more comfortable, and efficient than in the past to meet our expectation of high performance.
The ideas of applied building science help us to better understand the physics of house performance and have revolutionized the way the homebuilding industry approaches house construction today. This understanding helps us put the pieces of the puzzle together differently than in the past, to meet the complexity of our expectations for our high-performance homes.
You deserve a home that is as comfortable as it is beautiful.It's impossible to tell if a home will meet your comfort expectations from a walk-through while it is under construction.
That's why it's important to buy a home that has been inspected by a third-party and that has, at a minimum, an Energy Rating to quantify the HERS Index. From initial plan analysis and consulting through inspections and completion of the home, a third-party verified home helps ensure a more comfortable home with better consistency of temperature throughout.
A few aspects of a home inspection that affect comfort:
- Insulation and air barrier inspections: insulation and air barriers work in conjunction with each other in a synergistic way. They both need to be installed well and be continuous to define the thermal envelope boundary of the home, separating and controlling the conditioned space of the home from the ambient outdoors. When this is done well, the boundary is clearly defined and comfort is increased in the home.
- Air-tightness: By performing a blower door test, we determine if the house is air-tight. A very leaky house will be uncomfortable, both physically and financially! When a house has the appropriate level of sealing, it requires less heating and cooling to maintain a comfortable temperature.
- Whole House Ventilation: Now that the house is air-tight, it must be ventilated correctly. Why? – because it is important to ensure a controlled and predictable exchange of fresh air in the home for the occupants and for background moisture control. Moisture levels naturally rise in tight homes and comfort, and building durability can only be maintained if the moisture levels are at an appropriate level. Too much moisture is more problematic than too little moisture in the air of a home, but our goal is to achieve the proper balance through building homes tight and ventilating them correctly.
- Duct efficiency: Using a duct blaster, we pressurize the home's ducts (with all of the air supplies and returns taped off) to measure how much air the ductwork leaks. The tighter the duct system the more air is delivered to the proper location in the home to heat and cool.
Peace of mind that your home is a safe environment for you and your family.In homebuilding health and safety are two different but related concepts as they are dependent on different interactions in the house system.
- A Healthy house is often described as one that has plenty of breathable unpolluted air for its occupants.
- A Safe house is one that will not poison its occupants with the byproducts of combustion, namely carbon monoxide.
A new home, if constructed well, should easily last at least one hundred years.However, this is not something that can be expected with certainty. Many say this is because the craftsmanship or the materials were better in the past. In reality, we have a better chance than ever to build homes that are safe, comfortable, efficient and durable. This is thanks to our expanding understanding of building science and systems thinking.
Systems thinking focuses our attention on the relationship between the structure, the mechanical systems and the occupants in a home. The goal is to create a house where the parts work together in a synergistic relationship, existing in harmony with the macro environment. It aims to achieve a home that will fulfill the homeowners’ expectations. By incorporating systems thinking from the initial design to final construction, a builder creates a high-performance home that performs safely and efficiently.
This new systematic and scientific approach enables builders to better marry our modern expectations with the durability that is created in a high-performance home.
Building codes are necessary and important, but they alone do not guarantee that a high-performance home will be built.They are developed on a national level and implemented at a local level. Colorado is a home rule state, so every jurisdiction has the ability to adopt and amend the building codes as they see fit. That is why we have jurisdictions in our state that have no building code and others that are on the most recent version of the code. The International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) is the code that governs performance. It is updated on a three-year cycle. You can often determine what codes have been adopted by a jurisdiction by looking at the building code section of the jurisdiction's website.
Builders that voluntarily build to the requirements of a building program are more likely to create high-performance homes. These programs are building science-based and have rigorous specifications that are usually verified by independent third-party inspection companies. While code tends to have a very broad overview of construction, a building program can dive into the details and ensure requirements are met for certification under the program. Below you can find information on some of the most popular building programs builders are taking part in.
Indoor Air Plus
DOE Zero Energy Ready Home
LEED for Home
New Homes Infographic