First and foremost, CONSERVE. Energy not used is energy saved. A simple example is how we dry clothes. For most of us it requires electricity and gas to power the dryer. But we have a dryer that does not cost anything and gives us the chance to get off our behinds in front of these energy consuming electronic devices and get some much needed outdoor exercise, our solar system's energy plant the SUN. Yes, they still sell clothes lines and clothes pins. So, CONSERVATION is all about not spending, using less, eliminating energy users, using what you have wisely and changing your energy use bad behavior. Here are some tips:
- Use power strips to turn off phantom or stand by loads.
- If you are not using something like lights in an empty room turn them off.
- Can't get others to break the 'always on' habit? Use occupancy sensors.
- Refrigerator etiquette: Get in and out quickly. Keep the freezer full even if its empty milk cartons of ice. Clean the operating parts periodically. Replace worn seals.
- Door and window etiquette: If you are using your heating or cooling equipment remember it can only work for your house not the whole world, keep things shut.
- If you have a good stretch of weather open doors and windows to ventilate naturally.
- Use your setback thermostat and learn how to program it for your lifestyle.
- Wash full loads.
- Use a weather smart sprinkler timer and/or turn it off in dormant winter times.
- Size does matter. If you are in a large house and have a zonal control HVAC system use it to close off portions of the house you are not using.
- In the summer interior shades and even better exterior shades can lessen cooling loads.
- In the winter heavy shades drawn at night can keep warmth inside. During the day open south facing shades for solar heat gain.
- This list can grow. Got some tips of your own? Let us know and we will add them. Thank you.
This page will be growing. Have a subject you need help with? Let us know!
Second in order of importance is EFFICIENCY. Now we are talking about spending some money but if some of your appliances are wearing out why not replace them with more efficient units:
- Fuel switching. Study which fuel rates are least expensive and if you are able to change from electric resistance heating to gas it may be worth it.
- Seal all the hidden "holes" or leaks in your building envelope to keep the conditioned air from escaping. Weatherization is important but this goes beyond that
- Have your HVAC system ducts leak tested and while you are at it have a load calculation and duct sizing calculation done. You might just wind up replacing all the duct work and while you are at it increase the duct insulation to R8.
- Increase your attic insulation to at least R30 and if you can investigate what level of insulation is in your walls and increase to at least R13.
- On to appliances. Always buy EnergyStar and WaterSense labeled products and do not buy bigger than what you really need.
- If you are replacing your entire HVAC system buy the most efficient within reason and look into Energy Recovery Ventilators.
- Of course who would not want new double paned vinyl windows but ouch! they are expensive, none the less if you are remodeling they are energy savers and outside noise reducers.
- Another list to grow.
All the rage is solar which is a renewable energy source. First adopt conservation and efficiency then you will get by with less renewables and reap the savings. Here are some renewable energy projects to consider:
- Solar PV or electric. If you have an average size south facing roof with little shade and you are going to be living there for some time to come get an estimate.
- Solar thermal for supplementing your hot water needs is more cost effective than solar PV.
- Geothermal is best suited for new construction and can be the most expensive option.
- OK, you are really jazzed about solar but you rent, you don't have a suitable place for it or you just don't have the money. Do you have $25 you can invest and get returns on? You must check out www.joinmosaic.com.
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THE PAPERWORK OR FORMS
While you may find hard copy blank forms to use nothing is official unless it is generated online at the CalCERTS website. The CalCERTS logo watermark is printed on the official form and we recommend using a color printer. Our following subject line will educate you more about the certificate forms and the CalCERTS website.
NAVIGATING THE CalCERTS WEBSITE
Go to www.calcerts.com and watch the "How to videos." Also, watch our own help videos.
Video in production, come back soon.
Here is a list of some of the pages on the CalCERTS web site:
Like many web programs there may be more than one way to accomplish things.
- Home Page: Where you first land and begin.
- Secure Home Page: After logging in, here you can access the tall blue menu box on the left.
- Projects Listing Page: Use the blue menu box, click "projects". As you add projects the list will grow. Double click the address or click the file folder to the right to bring you to...
- Project Home Page: All of the details on this page must be completed before you can complete the forms or certificates.
- Use the colored hexagonal shapes roadmap to get to the various forms: When the forms have been completed you can access them as pdf's.
- CLICK HERE FOR TIPS FOR COMPLETING THE FORMS.
- CLICK HERE FOR INFO WE WILL NEED TO AUTHER THE FORMS FOR YOU. Remember the installer or owner builder must eventually log onto his CalCERTS web page, go to the project and approve the CF1R and CF2R certificate pdfs as the responsible person. Since you are collecting all this information anyway we encourage you to learn how to complete these certificate forms online yourself. If you have a question about an input, toggle choice or drop down choice call us and we will do our best to help.
RATINGS OR TESTS, HOW TO PASS
No one likes a failing test including us as the rater :-( So lets go over the process and some tips for always getting passing results. First of all, all of the test procedures and requirements are spelled out here, click on the 2013 Building Energy Efficiency Standards Reference Appendices. It is a thick volume. We will concentrate on some practical steps you can take.
Ideally the installing contractor or the owner builder (not very likely they can) would conduct the same test to verify their work. They would start by registering the project at www.calcerts.com and completing the CF1R form. Next, they conduct the test and record the results on the CF2R form. Then they would have the rater conduct the test, an independent third party verification. Most all of the time, at least for our company, the test is conducted simultaneously with both the installer and rater present. This is allowed (not in a sampling situation which we will explain on a further subject line) and then the same results can be used on the CF2R and CF3R forms. Only the rater can complete the CF3R form. We want installing contractors to become familiar with the process, the CalCERTS website and complete the necessary forms themselves, that is the CF1R and CF2R forms. This will help them to have passing results. To that end we spend some time with folks we work with for the first time going over this process and we have included a subject line on this page about the CalCERTS website.
There are many compliance forms and they are listed in the Reference Appendices. In general, the CF1R is what you plan to do. The CF2R is what you install and verify yourself. The CF3R is what the HERS rater verifies, only they can complete this form and they can only do it after the CF1R and CF2R forms are completed. All of these forms must be completed online at www.calcerts.com. This is the CEC approved provider organization. We have a subject line further down on navigating the CaCERTS website. Here are the most common tests or ratings and some tips:
CF-1R-ALT-HVAC, CF2R-MECH-25, CF3R-MECH-25
These are the forms for the Refrigerant Charge Verification. Please refer back to the "For HVAC Professionals" page at this website for a summary of this test. Here are some further tips:
- The outdoor temperature at the condenser must be above 55 deg. F. 65 and above is even better.
- The indoor temperature should be maintained above 70 deg. F for 15 minutes while the system reaches steady state.
- Use a digital pressure and temperature gauge that has the PT charts inside and computes subcooling and superheat automatically.
- Beginning July 2014 you may only use an actual air flow measuring device, a flow grid, a flow hood or a duct leakage machine for measuring air flow so,
- Purchase one or more of these devices and begin using it. It can be a great sales tool to show your potential customers how poorly a system may be performing.
- Just because equipment is new does not mean it is always operating properly. We have seen some faulty TXVs in new systems.
- You may need to add or evacuate refrigerant.
CF-1R-ALT-HVAC, CF2R-MECH-20, CF-3-MECH-20
These are the forms for the Duct Leakage Test - Alterations, Completely New or Replacement (where the entire system is accessible) Duct System. If the test is conducted at new construction rough stage less than or equal to 4% of the system air flow is the allowable leakage. If at the finished stage less than or equal to 6% is the allowable leakage. If it is a system with existing duct work the allowable leakage is less than or equal to 15%
The formulas for computing allowable leakage are: Cooling method: no. of tons times 400 CFM times .04 for new at rough, .06 for new at finished or .15 for existing. Heating method: Thousands of BTUs (i.e. 60,000 BTU use 60) times 21.7 times .04 for new at rough, .06 for new at finished or .15 for existing.
The following tips can be applied in new construction and most also in a retrofit situation:
- Seal everything! Here are some sealing places:
- The equipment boxes
- Gap between register boot and dry wall or finished surface
- All duct connections. Butter the inside of the duct with a generous amount of mastic, insert over the fitting and secure with zip tie or other.
- All plenum box joints and start collars
- Fittings may be advertised as sealed but always check and seal if necessary.
- Never use any building cavity as a duct.
- Always use professional grade duct materials and fittings.
- Except for the test at rough stage all the registers must be in place.
- Seal off the system at the registers securely with tape or gasketed devices like Duc Blocs or Vent Cap System for the test.
- Get used to using the duct leakage machine and manometer. Practice performing the test at your own home.
- Follow the instructions including inserting the reference hose into one of the supplies.
- If something does not seem right always check for operator error first! Is the manometer set for the correct device and ring? Are the register test seals holding?
- Do not dismiss a high CFM leakage as a mistake. The average duct leakage in existing systems is hovering around 35%!
- Do not get angry at the rater if you have a failing test and you never tested it yourself first.
- Use the duct leakage test on your own, not as a regulatory requirement but as a sales tool.
- If a good amount of the ducts are inside the building envelope you will need to perform a duct leakage to outside test which requires the use of a Blower Door along with the Duct Blaster.