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Energy Tips - New Texas Energy Code Adopted for 2012

New Energy Code for January 2012 Projects!

The state of Texas has updated its energy code. Beginning January 2012, residential single family homes must comply with the new code. This applies to new construction, additions, renovation, alterations, and repairs and it requires an energy audit and testing (blower door test and duct pressure test). ECO provides low energy building design, and engineering support for on-site energy systems like solar arrays and wind generators. ECO can also coordinate 3rd Party testing and certification required for compliance of this new energy code.



Energy Star 2.5 Implementation Delayed Until April 1, 2011

If you are designing or building a home now, be aware that all Texas homes that are permitted on or after April 1, 2011 will need to be compliant with Energy Star version 2.5. The EPA delayed the implementation date for the v2.5 guidelines by three months. (The chart below was not updated and still read Jan 1 2011). All homes permitted before this date can be certified using the current version of Energy Star, 2.0. Energy Star version 2.5 will soon after be replaced by version 3.0. based on 2009 IECC Code.

We do not think this will be a a big challange for most custom builders. Production builders may be challanged to balance compliance versus holding low costs. Builder just now need to focus a little more on energy performance before tile and countertops. Now they also need to budget for leak testing because in the 2009 code the maximum air changes per hour gets pushed even lower.



The new code takes the 2006 International Residential Code (IRC), air-sealing requirements to a a new level. The old IRC 2006 section N1102.4. The code requires that “The building thermal envelope shall be durably sealed to limit infiltration." That just means the following shall be caulked, gasketed, weatherstripped, or otherwise sealed with an air barrier material, suitable film, or solid material:

1. All joints, seams and penetrations. (foamed rafters would cover drop stair sealing)
2. Site-built windows, doors and skylights. (who does not do this now?)
3. Openings between window and door assemblies and their respective jambs and framing.
4. Utility penetrations (fireplaces will need to use outside combustion air and have gasketed doors)
5. Dropped ceilings or chases adjacent to the thermal envelope. (foamed would also rafters cover this)
6. Knee walls. (crawl space knee walls are easily insulated)
7. Walls and ceilings separating the garage from conditioned spaces. (who does not do this now?)
8. Behind tubs and showers on exterior walls.(who does not do this now?)
9. Common walls between dwelling units.

and lastly, a big catch-all ...

"10. Other sources of infiltration."

This says ALL sources of infiltration to be “caulked, gasketed, weatherstripped, or otherwise sealed with an air barrier material, suitable film, or solid material.” This will likely be managed by properly insulating with spray foam open/closed cell urethanes with sill plate sealing tape, or with spray cellulose with sill plate sealing tape, or by batt insulation if combined with foam sealing like Owens Cornings 'EnergyComplete' latex foam. We think most production builders will manage all of this internally. We can help or consult in this area as needed.


More Energy Savings Tips gleaned from some online energy conservation sources...

  1. Plug home electronics, such as TVs and VCRs, into power strips and turn power strips off when equipment is not in use.

  2. Set your cooling temperature up to 78°F. Dehumidified air at this temperature is very comfortable. This is particularly effective if used in conjunction with tip #3.

  3. Run your ceiling fan at all times when a room is occupied. The air movement will help to evaporate the moisture from the skin and cools you by the evaporation process. The room will actually feel 4° to 5° cooler than the indicated temperature.

  4. Set the thermostat and leave it set unless the area is going to be unoccupied for an extended period of time. If you don’t own or use a programmable thermostat, you should.

  5. Your Clothes Dryer pulls conditioned air from inside your home and pushes it outside at an average rate of 200 Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM). The average runtime for a dryer is 1 hour, which means that it is pulling a total of 12,000 Cubic Feet of air from your home and pushing it outside through the dryer exhaust vent. Since you are expelling 12,000 Cubic Feet of air, you are pulling in 12,000 Cubic Feet of air from the outside to compensate. This air must be conditioned. Make sure you run your clothes dryer when the temperature difference between inside and outside is at its smallest. There is a big difference in cooling 80 degree air to 74 degrees versus cooling 95 degree or more air down to 74 degrees.

  6. Unplug your computer and monitor when not in use.

  7. Use your microwave instead of a conventional electric range or oven.

  8. Keep the window coverings closed at least 75% during the hot periods of the day. This is most important for houses that face either east or west. Keep in mind that if your house faces east, the peak cooling demand may be in the morning.

  9. Analyze and improve your duct leakage situation. The most accurate method for this is conducted by a HERS Rater utilizing a Duct Blaster and a Blower Door. Although, minor duct repairs are easy to accomplish, ducts in unconditioned spaces should be sealed and insulated by qualified professionals using the appropriate sealing materials. We can help! Here are a few simple tips to help with minor duct repairs. Check your ducts for air leaks. First, look for sections that should be joined but have separated, and then look for obvious holes. Do not use regular duct tape to repair and seal your ducts, it will fail. Instead look for tape with the Under-writers Laboratories (UL) logo to avoid tape that degrades, cracks, and loses its bond with age. For rigid ducts use UL-181A tape, for flexible ducts use UL-181B tape.

  10. Keep door and windows closed as much as possible. This lowers the amount of air transfers with the outside.

  11. KEEP YOUR SYSTEM FILTERS CLEAN! Replace or clean your basic air filters every thirty days. For advanced filtration see manufacturers suggested replacement policy.

  12. Have your system serviced before the heating and cooling seasons. You change the oil in your car every 3000 miles to ensure performance and longevity. Why wouldn’t you do the same for equipment that cost almost as much? You and your family depend on it for their comfort. Service contracts can help with this process.

  13. Keep your outdoor unit clean. The accumulation of dirt, grass or other debris in the coils of your outdoor unit inhibits the transfer of heat and causes your equipment to run hotter, longer, and at a higher pressure.

  14. Try to avoid doing the laundry or heavy cooking the heat of the day. Keep the laundry room door closed when the washer and dryer are operating.

  15. Air dry dishes instead of using your dishwasher's drying cycle.

  16. Replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents (CFL).

  17. Always run a vent hood when cooking to remove heat and steam. Check to make sure your vent hood is ventilated to the outside and not your attic area.

  18. Houses with multiple systems must run both systems to achieve optimum performance.

  19. Make sure the fireplace damper is in the closed position for the summer and also in the winter if no fire is going. A great time to do this is when you schedule you spring air conditioner check up.

  20. Run bath fans for at least 10 minutes after showering or bathing to remove heat and humidity. Lower humidity means greater comfort in your home during the cooling season. Check to make sure your bath fan is ventilated to the outside and not your attic area.

  21. Take showers instead of baths to reduce hot water use.

  22. On the really hot days (above 95°F) don’t let the temperature inside the house reach more than 4°F above the desired temperature.

  23. Lower the thermostat on your hot water heater; 115 is comfortable for most uses.

  24. Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes.

  25. When entertaining large groups on hot days "pre-cool" your home and cut back on the amount of cooking and laundry during the heat of the day.

  26. An energy rater like Clayton Farmer will be needed for construction fo future homes. Owner and builders should budget and plan to contact Bluegill Energy Management or an equal qualified company for a Home Energy Audit. They can provide solutions that provide dollars to sense as well as Building Science solutions for your homes’ energy, Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) and Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) problems.