Following are common questions from both homeowners and contractors about the Residential Solutions Program. Contact us if you have a question that is not answered below.
PSO has always helped educate its customers on ways to use electricity more efficiently. PSO views Home Performance with ENERGY STAR's whole house approach as a good way to assist customers who live in older homes find cost-effective ways to make their homes more energy-efficient. Using the program's initial home energy assessment (diagnostic testing and visual inspections), the technician can identify what improvements are needed for a home and prioritize the improvements that provide the greatest benefit to the homeowner.
After your home improvements have been completed, the program will mail you a PSO Residential Solutions Program Home Performance Certificate. The certificate will tell you the amount of energy saved annually in your home and prove that your home has had energy efficiency upgrades if you should ever decide to put it up for sale.
Whether a home is old or new, inadequate or improperly installed insulation can lead to high energy costs, uncomfortable rooms and structural problems. Proper insulation levels slow the movement of heat through your walls, floors and ceilings, keeping you warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. A BPI Accredited Home Performance Contractor will check insulation levels and make sure insulation is installed properly, as well as make sure all the holes, cracks and gaps in the home are sealed for air leakage.
Insulation alone is not always enough to make sure your home is energy-efficient. Stopping air leaks combined with proper insulation and ventilation are the three major components required to ensure a home is tight while providing a sufficient supply of fresh air. A BPI Accredited Home Performance Contractor using special testing equipment, such as a blower door, can locate and measure air leakage.
Mold and mildew can occur when warm, moist air condenses on a cold surface. Many building products will support mold growth, especially wood-based products. Mold in a home can often go undetected since it tends to occur on the coldest surfaces, such as closets on outside walls (especially when the walls are improperly insulated), behind furniture, and in attics and basements. The presence of mold in homes is typically a sign of under ventilation, uncontrolled air movement, or excessive humidity levels. A BPI Accredited Home Performance Contractor can perform diagnostics that indicate air leakage paths, insulation conditions and humidity levels to determine the home’s particular needs. Since molds are usually caused by a combination of problems, a comprehensive home assessment is recommended to effectively develop a plan of action to help remedy the problems.
Please visit www.energystar.gov to learn what equipment may be eligible for federal tax credits in 2010 and 2011. Be sure to also consult your tax advisor.
Yes. Residential customers located in PSO’s service area and served by a PSO electric meter may receive cash incentives for eligible measures. The QuEST program pays up to $1,300 and the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program pays up to $1,500 based on the home’s size, type of improvement, and whether the home has electric heat.
Please note that these incentives are subject to change any time, without notice.
PSO is responsible for ensuring that participating contractors maintain high standards for quality. This typically includes providing specialized training for contractors and conducting quality assurance inspections to verify that Home Performance with ENERGY STAR projects get done right.
A typical project begins with an energy assessment (commonly referred to as an "audit") by a certified Home Performance with ENERGY STAR contractor. The assessment usually includes:
If you choose to move forward, your contractor will complete the recommended improvements and assist you in accessing available incentives. Typical energy efficiency home improvements include:
Energy efficiency upgrades will improve the comfort of your home while making sure the occupants in your home are living in a safe environment, thereby protecting your most important investment, your home, and its treasured occupants, your family. As a result of the improvements, you will reduce your energy usage every month.
While some of these improvements could be completed by a handy do-it-yourselfer, the PSO Residential Solutions Program recommends using a certified Home Performance with ENERGY STAR contractor to ensure that root causes, not just symptoms, are addressed. These contractors are certified by the Building Performance Institute to use appropriate diagnostic equipment and techniques to optimize the energy efficiency of your home. They are also trained to identify and remedy potentially hazardous and unhealthy situations by providing adequate ventilation and ensuring that combustion appliance byproducts aren't being released into the living space.
Depending on the home, improvements may include sealing gaps, cracks, and other leaks that let outside air into a home, adding insulation, and sealing, insulating, or replacing air ducts that run through attics or crawlspaces. They may also include repairing or replacing old or poorly functioning heating and cooling systems and appliances. Installing ENERGY STAR qualified lighting is another common, cost-effective improvement.
Common recommendations include sealing air leaks and adding insulation, sealing ductwork, improving heating and cooling systems, and upgrading lighting and appliances.
Improper functioning combustion appliances—water heaters, furnaces, ovens, and stoves—can produce carbon monoxide and other indoor air pollutants. Under certain circumstances, these byproducts can cause minor health effects or deadly situations. Inspecting and testing combustion appliances helps to ensure safe operation and peace of mind in knowing that potentially dangerous combustion gases are not being introduced into the home. Participating contractors test appliances before and after performing any energy improvements to the home.
It is likely that the energy efficiency improvements performed on your home will result in your home becoming more airtight. To ensure that the increased air tightness does not cause air quality or combustion safety problems and to ensure that the contractor has completed all work properly, the contractor is required to repeat the tests performed during the initial home performance evaluation. The contractor will also inspect the work performed and review it with you to make sure you are satisfied.
On rare occasions, this final test will reveal conditions that do not meet the program’s health, safety, and technical requirements. If this is the case, the contractor will recommend modifications or additional measures to bring the home into compliance, which will be finished before the job is considered complete.
The QuEST contractor will charge a low-cost fee for the QuEST audit which can vary by contractor and location. Some contractors may waive the audit fee based on the improvements you choose to do. You will also pay for the improvements you agree to as part of the contract. Those costs depend on your home (including size, age, etc.), the recommended improvements, and the improvements you choose to install.
The Home Performance contractor will provide a much more detailed diagnosis of your home; therefore fees charged will be higher than those associated with the QuEST audit. You will also pay for the improvements you agree to as part of the contract. Those costs depend on your home (including size, age, etc.), the recommended improvements, and the improvements you choose to install. However, homeowners who participate in Home Performance with ENERGY STAR are eligible for greater incentive amounts from PSO.
To complete the contracted improvements to your home, your contractor(s) may have to visit your home on multiple days. It is strongly recommended that, at a minimum, you meet with the contractor at the beginning of each day before work begins, and at the end of the day to review progress and to help you better understand the impact the work will have on your home. Be aware that the normal routine of your household may be disrupted while the contractor(s) perform the improvements.
Once your evaluation is complete and you receive your contractor’s recommendations, it is your choice whether to move forward with the improvements and sign a contract. But remember, these improvements can improve the energy efficiency, indoor air quality, and comfort of your home, while reducing your energy usage. Therefore, you and your family will greatly benefit from moving forward with the recommended improvements.
Yes, you should accompany your contractor during the evaluation and ask questions. Your participation will help you when discussing the evaluation findings and your contractor’s recommendations.
During a QuEST audit, the contractor will complete a thorough visual inspection of your home. During this inspection, the contractor will make recommendations to improve energy efficiency and how participation in Residential Solutions Program will benefit you.
During a Home Performance diagnosis, the contractor will perform a comprehensive analysis of your home’s envelope, ducts, and appliances using state-of-the art equipment. The Analyst will provide a detailed report listing specific upgrades and their potential impact on your home’s energy usage as well as how participation in the Program will benefit you.
Home Performance with ENERGY STAR contractors are certified by the Building Performance Institute to conduct diagnostic and combustion safety testing, detect carbon monoxide, and protect indoor air quality. Your contractor will test your home at the time of the evaluation and again when the improvements are completed to assure that the project results in real energy savings and are installed safely. The PSO Residential Solutions Program reviews the recommendations made by participating contractors and performs quality assurance site inspections on a percentage of projects.
PSO has created a network of independent, certified contractors who have been specially trained to use the most advanced, state-of-the-art equipment and their knowledge of building science to evaluate your home and recommend energy efficiency improvements. The program has two types of participating contractors. Some participating contractors provide the initial evaluation only and, if you proceed with work, the required post-installation testing and inspections. These contractors focus on providing you with an independent consulting and verification service. The other type of contractor provides one-stop shopping for installation services in addition to the evaluation and post-installation testing. Click here to find a participating contractor near you.
Having an evaluation and completing the suggested improvements will help improve your home’s:
Homeowners located in PSO’s service territory and served by a PSO electric meter are eligible.
Residential Solutions has two components to help residential customers improve the energy efficiency of their homes – the Quick Energy Savings Test (QuEST) and Home Performance with ENERGY STAR. QuEST provides low-cost energy assessments (or "audits") for residential customers, using a checklist and a visual inspection of the home. Home Performance with ENERGY STAR provides a comprehensive analysis of energy usage in the home through diagnostic equipment.
Home Performance with ENERGY STAR is a program created by the federal government which uses a whole-house approach to making a home more energy-efficient, thus lowering its energy consumption. Each participating contractor has staff certified by the Building Performance Institute (BPI). Only contractors with BPI certified staff can participate in the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR piece of the Residential Solutions Program. These contractors use advanced diagnostic equipment to test the home and identify energy efficiency improvements.