Don’t forget to close that fireplace flue and vacuum out the ashes or cover them with wet newspaper.
Here at EnergyLogic, we keep a folder on the server for Hall of Fame and Hall of Shame pictures. The latter is a collection of energy and safety faux pas and gaffes that we refer to loosely as ‘Raterporn.” As a QA Designee I get a lot of interesting pictures sent to me from raters around the country and I thought it would be nice to begin sharing some of the best (and worst). This picture was taken by one of EnergyLogic’s own. I am posting it because I think it illustrates very well the different mindset required for testing an existing home versus a new home. This rater (who shall remain anonymous) works almost exclusively on new homes. In this case, the local building department granted a temporary Certificate of Occupancy before all construction was complete due to a hardship (this family’s original home was destroyed in a tornado). All fine and well, except that our rater took his ‘new home mindset’ into this occupied house and neglected to close the fireplace flue damper and clean out the ash. The result when he ran the depressurization test was a fine cloud of ash that was distributed nicely throughout the main living area including the cream colored rug in front of the fireplace.
Here is the lesson: if you don’t want to make that repentant call to your home owner or pay a carpet cleaning bill, don’t forget to address the fireplaces and wood burning stoves prior to running the blower door! And remember, occupied homes are just a whole different animal!
Linda Bilsens and I spent part of last week in Washington DC working as part of Efficiency First! to help pass the Retrofit for Energy and Environmental Performance (REEP) legislation. REEP is an important piece of legislation that will very effectively support home performance and do so by emphasizing performance, quality assurance and high standards.
The response to REEP was universally positive from both sides of the aisle. There is effectively no opposition to efforts to improve efficiency! That’s great news. Perhaps our time is nigh.
I personally had not been to Washington in this capacity before. It was exciting, enlightening and hopefully effective. I’d like to encourage everyone out there to be proactive in supporting legislation like REEP. Let your congresspeople and Senators know how important this is, how it will support your business and thus help bring on high quality jobs that will never be outsourced and will support larger goals like climate change protection and national security.
One of the biggest sources of confusion our there for our Rater Partners seems to be the Energy Efficiency Tax Credit for New Homes (commonly referred to as the Builder Tax Credit because the $2,000 credit goes directly to the builder). It seems like every week, I find myself disspelling the many myths and misunderstandings surrounding this tax credit. It was originally established in 2005 and has been extended several times. It is currently due to expire December 31st, 2009. The tax credit can be a good sales tool for energy raters, or at the very least a value added service, and it gives builders an incentive to go beyond EnergyStar. That is why as an industry, we would like to see it extended. There is a provision in the Waxman-Markey Bill (which was introduced recently to the Senate) to extend this tax credit and even create a $5,000 tax credit for homes that meet an even higher standard. If you are not currently following the progress of this bill, you should be. Go to: http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=h111-2454 to read the full text and to check the current status of this sweeping climate-energy legislation. (Check Steve’s blog for more on this when he returns from D.C.).
The energy modeling tool most of us use (REM/Rate) is one of four software tools approved by the IRS that can evaluate a new home for tax credit compliance. REM/Rate will run a separate calculation comparing the space heating and cooling efficiency of the tested home against that of the reference home (2004 IECC Standards). The key words there are SPACE HEATING and COOLING. That means the efficiency of the hot water heater won’t help you here. Ditto for lights and appliances. Thus, the tax credit is not related to Energy Star or 2006 IECC Code compliance, or even the HERS Index Score. The main key to meeting tax credit is to have a great building shell and high efficiency mechanicals for space heating and cooling.
RESNET made an agreement with the IRS that only approved HERS Raters would be allowed to certify homes for the builder tax credit. RESNET approval requires two steps. First, the rater must carry a minimum of $500,000 of Professional Liability (E&O) Insurance. Second, an officer of the rating company must submit a signed declaration to RESNET stating the following:
“Under the penalties of perjury, I declare that _______ carries a minimum of $500,000 in professional liability. I also acknowledge that if a rater inaccurately presents facts in support of the certification of the tax credit it could result up to and including RESNET removing its accreditation as a tax credit certifier.”
Once you have received approval from RESNET to verify homes for the tax credit, you should forward the letter to your Provider who can then allow print permissions for that report in REM/Rate (which you will have to print and sign for your client’s tax records). If you are a RESNET member, you will also see the Capital Building Logo posted next to your company’s information in the Rater Registry on their website. RESNET has a good page for Frequently Asked Questions here: http://resnet.us//taxcredits/faq-raters.htm. For further questions contact your HERS Provider or contact RESNET directly. One last bit of CYA- you will find yourself answering questions about the tax credit for your builder clients. Always qualify your remarks about tax credits by reminding them that you are not a professional tax advisor. They should always seek the advice of their accountant or tax preparer on matters of tax credits.