The Future of How Homes Work

Phantom loads that leak energy in standby include modems, phones, and TVs

It’s been a crazy-busy spring.  So much so that I’m only now getting around to writing about the Georgia Association of Home Inspectors March conference, plus a few personal observations

Proposed Electric Code:  Plugged Into the Future

One goal of the code is to anticipate future trends
The future is here: for the first time in history plug (receptacle) loads consume more energy than space heating
There are so many new plug location requirements it’s easier to figure out where plugs aren’t required than where they are.
“Phantom” or “Vampire” loads occur when appliances leak energy in the standby mode.
“Smart” surge protectors and hard switches limit loss.

Stand-alone de-humidifier keeps mold out. Understanding how to manage humidity is key to cooling comfort

HVAC:  Load Calcs, Variable speed takes moisture out, Ventilate it right

Heating systems work above design temperatures 99% of the time, cooling systems 1%.
This disparity is mostly due HVAC contractors using “rule of thumb” sizing, not actual load calculations (measuring the home and calculating the correct size of the appliances)
New code requires contractors perform, and to be liable for, proper load calculations.


Look for agents who know what it takes to sell expensive homes

It’s not the heat but the humidity that makes Atlanta’s mixed-humid climate a formidable A/C challenge. Variable speed appliances answer with longer run times that remove moisture better than single speed.                                                                                     Atlanta builders are halfway to the Build it Tight, Ventilate it Right design goal. Newer, tighter homes require balanced ventilation systems instead of exhaust-only type, especially when high volume range exhaust fans are installed. Timed or pressure-activated                                                                systems deliver the correct volume of fresh air

Variable speed HVAC systems improve comfort and efficiency

Real Estate Realities

Initial pricing is critical. If it’s not right reductions likely follow
One third of homes listed for sale don’t sell
Cheaper homes are an easier sell than expensive ones
Corporations purchased tens of thousands of homes during the recession
Frustrated buyers have tens of thousands                                                                      fewer homes to choose from

Designed ventilation systems bring fresh air in to replace air vented from range hoods, bathrooms, dryers and gas appliances

Energy:  Three best DIYs, Spray Foam Works!

Three DIY energy projects worth doing:
Switch your light bulbs to LED.  Added energy bonus: retrofit recessed light kits keep attic air out of your living space
Seal ducts. With average leakage at 25% it’s worth the effort. Aeroseal (airborne mastic sealant) is an alternative
Install radiant barriers in your attic. They’ll lower attic temperatures and make cooling                                                                      easier.

Foamed attics perform better than modeling would suggest because small and irregular gaps are sealed

Foam Future

Spray foam works even better than scientific modeling predicts because it seals small, irregular gaps
Though not cheap performance and payback make foam an energy industry leader. Heating, cooling and ventilation consume 50% of the average household energy budget.


Proposed electric code requires a receptacle for each parking spot in a garage

Making it Last

Old homes built with durable materials can take a lot of abuse. Moisture goes through without causing much damage. They’re durable but not comfortable. New homes built of heat and moisture-sensitive materials are comfortable and efficient. They’re also more susceptible to moisture damage. Your best bet is to manage moisture carefully, whatever and wherever its source

Home inspectors serve the public as quality control advocates. We’ll show you how to make your home work better. Getting an maintenance inspection could save you money and make life more comfortable

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