Home Design Should Include Blower Door Tests

Published on June 11, 2019

Home Design Should Include Blower Door Tests

Energy efficient home design is not only becoming more desirable for the average homebuyer, but it is also an excellent way of ensuring that a home is sufficiently airtight before construction has been completed. With a pre-drywall blower door test, homebuilders can be certain that no air leaks or moisture concerns will appear once they have finished drywalling, which would cause them to have to redo any work that they have already completed.

Although many home builders have never had a blower door test done during construction (or pre-drywall), all it takes is for our Service Organization Manager, Rick Miller, to do one test on one new home for them to declare, “Okay, every time from now on”. One reason for this is the sheer benefit and peace of mind that comes with knowing that any work you do going forward will not have to be redone due to airtightness issues or unnecessary moisture problems.

In addition to the peace of mind you experience, is the knowledge you gain from seeing how effective and energy efficient your building techniques and home designs are, allowing you to shift your focus where it is needed, and away from things that you already have under control. As a homebuilder, and as the demand for energy efficient homes continues to rise, it is extremely beneficial to get ahead in the market, and to consider building homes that are certified energy efficient.

A Blower Door Test Enhances the Early Concept Stages of Home Design

By including a blower door test during the early concept stages of home design, you can be sure that the homes you are building are not only being built correctly and without pesky air leaks, but you can also be sure that they will be energy efficient and affordable for the new homeowners once they move in - increasing their satisfaction, lowering your chance of call backs, and maximizing the quality of your work.

For the average home in Ontario, interior air is exchanged with exterior air about 7 times every hour. This means that if you took all of the cracks and air leaks in the home and put them into one spot, it would be like having a window that is left open all day long, pumping air conditioned or heated air to the great outdoors and wasting large amounts of energy.

As a home builder, being able to control and prevent these leaks before the homeowner moves in is imperative in keeping your customers happy, comfortable, and without large energy bills. Ablower door test makes sure that any leaks are identified and flagged, so that they may be dealt with before they are covered up with drywall or become more difficult to reach. This helps ensure a stronger building envelope that has fewer leaks, and lays a foundation of energy efficiency that the homeowners can easily improve upon in the future.

As a homebuilder, you should prepare for future building code increases, as well as the market shift towards more energy efficient homes - such as Passive Houses and Net-Zero Energy homes - which are quickly becoming more widely known and acknowledged for their successes regarding energy and financial savings, market value, and comfort.

Passive Houses are also often more affordable to construct than believed, as much of the mechanicals involved with Passive House home construction are simplified yet highly effective. A recent study from the Rocky Mountain Institute also examined how affordable Net-Zero homes are to construct, and found that their cost increase is minimal (if at all) when compared to a code built home in most locations in the U.S.

Home Design Should Include Blower Door Tests

Building New Homes to be Affordable, Comfortable, and Highly Desirable

When people think of a highly energy efficient home, they often imagine a home that is ultra-modern, that uses the most state of the art technology, and is extremely expensive to buy or to build. As energy efficient construction methods and strategies continue to improve, the image of an energy efficient home being expensive to build is becoming further from the truth.

Although most new energy efficient homes do take advantage of several state of the art technologies, a home can be built to high levels of energy efficiency without investing heavily in new technologies. Airtightness is becoming even more important to home design than ever before, and is rapidly becoming a part of the design process in every new home. For a Net-Zero Energy home or a Passive House, airtightness must even be considered in the kitchen, as it ensures that the stove’s fume hood will not alter the effectiveness of the home’s building envelope.

By concerning yourself with the airtightness of the home your building right from the beginning, you are able to prevent air leaks before they are covered up from drywall, and design a home that is forward thinking regarding energy efficiency. For homeowners, a blower door test is included in their energy audit (aka an energy assessment), and is similarly helpful in finding and flagging unwanted air leaks. However, some of these leaks may be in hard to reach locations, which makes airtightness improvements more difficult and costly.

Another benefit for homeowners who have an energy audit and blower door test conducted on their home, is that the energy audit is part of the application process for a maximum of $5,000 of rebates from the new Home Efficiency Rebate program. Rebates are available for Ontario homeowners who live within the Union Gas and Enbridge Gas service areas, and work to improve the energy efficiency of their home through eligible renovations and retrofits.

When our Service Organization Manager, Rick Miller, conducts an energy audit, he almost always finds leaks between insulation and studs that would have been impossible to detect without the test. These leaks cause a considerable amount of energy loss, and can greatly dampen the performance of the home’s energy efficiency - making the home more expensive to operate, less comfortable to live in, and less desirable on the housing market.

Contact BSG today to schedule a time for a pre-drywall blower door test on the home(s) you are currently constructing, and stay ahead of the energy efficient housing market. We offer free phone consultations to help you get started, and our Registered Energy Advisors are happy to answer any questions you may have regarding the test, or the benefits you will see.

The Canada Greener Homes Grant offers home efficiency renovation grants up to $5,000.

Homeowners Canada-wide are eligible for the Canada Greener Homes Grant, announced on May 27, 2021. This new incentive offers up to $5,000 in grants for home efficiency retrofit renovations, plus a $600 reimbursement for pre- and post-work EnerGuide evaluations. Eligible retrofit scopes include home insulation, heating, doors, windows, photovoltaic solar panels, resiliency measures, and thermostats.

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