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Is your home taking care of you?

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Our homes are truly our sanctuaries. We spend nearly 90 percent of our time indoors and much of that is in our homes. But do our homes really provide the healthy, safe and comfortable environment we think they do?

Homeowners throughout Southern California and across the nation are beginning to understand the concept of “home performance” — meaning how well your home’s structure and systems work together to use energy efficiently, provide healthy indoor air and prevent hazards such as mold growth and carbon monoxide leaks. Your home may be “low performing” if you notice symptoms such as:

· Rooms that are always hotter or colder than the rest of the house

· Accumulation of dust or mold, which aggravate allergy and asthma symptom

· Condensation that consistently appears on windows

· Odors that linger

· High spikes in energy bills during winter or summer

Many of us accept these conditions as unavoidable. However, high-performance homes are within reach. Upgrades such as adding insulation, sealing air leaks, adding ventilation and upgrading furnaces and air conditioners can significantly improve your family’s quality of life while reducing utility bills.

The first step to improving your home is to diagnose its problems and finding opportunities for improvement. Talk to a contractor certified by the Building Performance Institute (BPI) about your home’s symptoms and ask for a home performance assessment.

During the assessment, the contractor will visually inspect your home’s insulation and heating/cooling/ventilation systems and use diagnostic tools, like an infrared camera, to determine where your home is leaking heated or cooled air. Most importantly, he or she will test for conditions that may cause natural gas appliances (furnace, water heater or oven) to leak carbon monoxide or other combustion gases into your home. Combustion safety is a serious health issue, particularly if your air ducts and ventilation systems are not working properly.

Once the home performance contractor has completed the assessment, you’ll receive a list of recommended upgrades to improve the health, comfort, safety, durability and energy efficiency of your home. And if the contractor is participating in Energy Upgrade California, the statewide rebate program, you’ll be eligible for a rebate of up to $4,000 to offset the cost of your upgrades. To learn more, go to energycenter.org/energyupgrade.

Many of us are vigilant about scheduling doctor and dentist appointments for our family, and performing maintenance and check-ups on our cars. Your home shouldn’t be left out — it’s your biggest investment and directly affects the well-being of your family. Take care of your home so it can take care of you!

-Submitted by the California Center for Sustainable Energy.

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