What is Home Performance–and Who Does It?

What is Home Performance–and Who Does It?

Marketing people love the word “performance.” It just screams better. It’s sort of like a nacho chip-maker using the word “Xtreme” to describe the flavor of their chips. It elicits instant curiosity to experience an Xtreme flavor—or in this case home performance. But, what is home performance exactly?

Home performance is the idea that taking a “whole house” approach to an energy upgrade will be better than just buying and installing parts individually. But, does this holistic approach really make it better?  Or “green?”  These are fair questions to ask about home performance, so let’s take a look at them one at a time.

To put it into perspective, imagine a tree. On your imaginary tree, do you picture roots?  If not, why?  Most likely it’s because you don’t see the roots on most trees, but that doesn’t mean that the roots are not important. The tree is a system. It needs healthy roots, bark, limbs, and leaves in order to grow and be all it can be.

It turns out, a house is a system too, just like a tree. What works in one house may not work in another. Home performance—what Community Power Works is all about—is both art and craft, based on building science, where energy auditors and home performance contractors are trained to think of your house as a dynamic system. Home performance provides a customized solution for every home.

How does home performance make your home “green”?  The goal of home performance is for every house to be comfortable, safe, durable, and energy efficient, and have good indoor air quality. Most green building programs award points for building durability, indoor air quality, health, safety, and energy efficiency. Without building science and performance-built homes, we would have no truly green building programs!

Who specializes in home performance? A number of contractors and consultants who had previously been insulators, HVAC technicians, remodelers or home inspectors have realized over the years that a whole house perspective was an important part of getting the results their customers wanted to see. So, these contractors started to evolve the way they did their business. These people inevitably found each other in the Puget Sound region and created a trade association, Home Performance Washington. This trade association has worked with training organizations, city government, and regional power utilities to bring the message of “performance” to weatherization. Home Performance Washington is proud to have nearly all of the general contractors currently participating in the Community Power Works for Home program as loyal members!

I leave you with this final question:  If you have a room that is always 15 degrees warmer or colder than the rest of your house, do you think you’d get the same recommendations for solving this problem from an insulator, a window installer and an HVAC technician?  Wouldn’t it be nice if contractors were trained to understand the needs of the whole home and its inhabitants and then provide balanced recommendations to solve the problem?  Welcome to the world of home performance. Give Community Power Works a call today.

This post is a collaboration between Home Performance Washington board members Dan Wildenhaus, Jason Leer, and Lance Kling, and was written by Dan Wildenhaus.

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Community Power Works is a Seattle neighborhood-based building retrofit program that will achieve deep energy savings and create green jobs.