Building Energy Solutions Logo

Energy and Comfort Solutions for Your Home


Larry Gorman
Building Energy Solutions, Inc.
8 Trigo Road
Placitas, NM 87043
(505) 269-2969
(505) 867-7965 fax
lgorman3@comcast.net

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Building Energy Solutions, Inc. assists homeowners and builders in the design and construction of new homes, additions and upgrading of existing homes in order to provide reduced fuel consumption while assuring adequate indoor air quality. We actively promote homeowner education on issues relating to the functioning of their homes as a system and the wise use of natural resources.


About this site: The goal was to create a quick loading site so those without the luxury of a cable or a similar connection could still have quick and easy access. Since we live in a community where the telephone lines will not support decent Internet access, we are sympathetic to those in this situation. But there is more: the people most in need of our services will probably not have access to this site, likely because, they do not have access to a computer. So please keep our less fortunate New Mexico neighbors in mind when you pay your heating bill and include something for the PNM Good Neighbor fund. To find out how to participate, you may phone (505) 872-1171, or go to PNM Good Neighbor Fund. Your donation goes not just to pay for fuel from PNM, but for propane and firewood as well.

In the past, Building Energy Solutions has donated services to Greater Albuquerque Habitat for Humanity . Currently we are donating some services to Homewise in Santa Fe, particularly on the "evergreen" project, which consists of eighty new affordable homes, currently under construction in accordance with Energy Star for Homes criteria. For additional information, see evergreen homes

Support and Services Offered

  • Blower Door Testing (Building Leakage)
  • Duct Leakage Testing
  • HERS Ratings
  • ENERGY STAR and Building American Certification
  • Energy Audits
  • Thermography
  • Recommendations for Cost Effective Energy Improvements
  • Documentation for Energy Efficient & Energy Improvement Mortgages
  • Indoor Air Quality Investigations
  • Consultations
  • Mold
  • ACCA Manual J Calculations (Sizing Mechanical Equipment)
  • Building Energy Solutions Brochure

    Building Energy Solutions Resources

  • Active and Passive Solar
  • Comfort or Performance Problems
  • PNM Rebates
  • Energy Policy Act
  • Associate Information (password required)

    Consumer Resources

  • Building America
  • ENERGY STAR

  • Building Energy Solutions, Inc. can help you to maintain a healthy environment in your proposed or existing home while reducing your fuel consumption. Remember that reduced fuel consumption by your home will reduce environmental damage as does reduced fuel consumption by your automobile.

    The following is a partial list of our services.


    Blower Door Testing (Building Leakage)

    We identify air leakage sites and the quantity of leakage in the building shell using the Minneapolis Blower Door with their DG-700 gauge. Uncontrolled air leakage is a primary contributor to high utility bills and can contribute to reduced indoor air quality as some us are sensitive to dusts, pollen and the remnants of trapped critters (and their products) which have lived in the walls, and may be drawn into the home with air leakage. While older homes are usually too leaky, newer homes may be too tight, with no natural leakage to provide the proper fresh air for occupants.

    A properly constructed home will be as tight as can reasonably be achieved with a reliable system to furnish the proper quantity of fresh air to the occupants. Ask us about the proper time to test your new home.

    ENERGY STAR, Building America and all "Green Building" programs require blower door tests on new construction. ENERGY STAR recommends blower door testing and repairs on existing homes in order to reduce utility costs and improve indoor air quality.

    For those interested, here is a technical explanation for the blower door test results. Blower Door Test Results

    For additional information, see:

    Little Sunlight Homes
    Airtightness of Buildings
    Air Sealing in Occupied Homes
    Building Tightness Guidelines
    Tight Houses: A Healthy Idea

    Duct Leakage Testing

    We measure leakage in the duct system and provide a means for locating the leaks using the Minneapolis Duct Blaster. The EPA estimates that nationally, duct leakage costs the average homeowner 20% of his/her heating and cooling bill. Leaky ducts in the attic or in the crawl space contribute to indoor air quality problems by pulling in dust, including insulation dust and pollens, radon, out gassing of chemical soil treatments, and possibly carbon monoxide and fumes from paint or other chemicals stored in an attached garage. Because leakage to the outside brings in dust, cleaning ducts without sealing them is a waste of your money.

    ENERGY STAR, Building America and all "Green Building" programs require duct leakage tests on new construction. ENERGY STAR and PNM recommend testing and repairs on existing homes in order to reduce utility costs and improve indoor air quality. There is now technology for the sealing of inaccessible ducts from the inside. Unfortunately, this technology is not yet available in New Mexico. If you are interested, we are compiling a list of interested people to be contacted when the interior duct sealant is available in the New Mexico area.

    Testing of the ducts on new homes after rough-in assures that the sealing has been properly done. If rework is required, do it now while the duct system is accessible. Testing and sealing ducts on existing homes may greatly reduce utility costs and improve indoor air quality for the reasons discussed above. Unfortunately, in many of our homes, ducts are not accessible.

    For those interested, here is a technical explanation for the duct blaster test results. Duct Blaster Test Results

    For additional information, see:

  • Duck Leakage Testing
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    HERS (Home Energy Rating System) Ratings

    On existing homes, these are not the audits your utility company has performed in the past. We use the blower door and duct blaster to evaluate envelope and duct leakage. We collect data on all the features of your home which affect energy consumption, and generate a report listing cost effective improvements that will reduce energy consumption. We use REM software to aid in making these recommendations.

    On proposed homes or additions, we do an analysis from plans using the same software. We will recommend changes, which will reduce energy consumption, and if you are interested in having a home certified by Energy StarŪ or the Building America Partner Program, we will generate the documentation. Currently ENERGY STAR requires a minimum HERS score of 86 and Building America requires a minimum score of 88. ENERGY STAR and the Building America Partner Program each require HERS ratings from the plans before construction begins as well as the blower door and duct blaster tests during construction. Pre construction is the time for you to evaluate the energy conserving features you are considering for your new home, and see which are the most cost effective. This is also recommended for remodels and room additions.

  • For more information about the software: Architectural Energy Corporation

    Below are four documents whose purpose is to demonstrate how the HERS software is able to compare energy conservation features which may be incorporated into a house. While the features compared here are all active and passive solar in nature, any building component may be considered. You will find two documents each on houses "A" and "B". House A has both active and passive solar features; house B has passive features only. There is a cover sheet for each report, which states construction features. The REM reports include estimated annual energy costs using costs in effect in September of 2005. It is worth noting that the estimated annual carbon dioxide emissions savings for house A is almost 7.5 tons.

    Solar House A Cover Sheet
    Solar House A REM Report
    Solar House B Cover Sheet
    Solar House B REM Report

  • For additional information on the HERS system: Consumer Resources


    ENERGY STAR and Building America Certification

    ENERGY STAR was created to help consumers easily identify products, homes, and buildings that save energy and money, and help protect the environment. As the government-backed, trusted symbol for energy efficiency, the ENERGY STAR label identifies highly efficient products, and designates superior energy performance in homes and buildings. Building Energy Solutions is a proud partner of ENERGY STAR.


    Energy Audits

    The detailed energy audit is the same as the HERS Rating, but specifically for existing homes and with emphasis on retrofitting to reduce energy consumption. The most critical report component of the energy audit is the "Improvement Analysis". Sample Improvement Analysis. Note that on page one of the sample report, the estimated annual energy consumption, both " as is" and "with all improvements" is shown. On page two, the cost of the individual improvements with the estimated annual cost savings is shown for each improvement. The estimated payback time, in years, is given in the "SP" column. You can see that in the example we have considered a new furnace, additional ceiling and underfloor insulation, and windows. Any component of the building envelope or heating and cooling equipment may be considered, include the water heater, air leakage through the building envelope as well as duct leakage, and ventilation to maintain indoor air quality. Contractors who are members of the Central New Mexico Home Builders Association usually furnish the cost for the improvements as an estimate to complete the work, but the owner may also furnish this information from other resources. This report is also used as documentation for energy improvement mortgages.

    You can see what a valuable tool this is for prioritizing upgrades to the building. Since we are not selling windows or anything other than our services, you can depend on accurate unbiased information on payback, based on energy savings.

    The example building is an Albuquerque home constructed in the 1960s, with original mechanical equipment and construction features. The audit was done in 2002 and the cost for the proposed improvements was accurate for that time. Cost of energy has been updated to October of 2005; so estimated energy savings as shown is current.


    Thermography

    Using infrared technology, we can scan and record images of thermal bypasses in your home. A thermal bypass is an area which allows heat to enter or leave the building and adds heating and cooling load, increases cost of heating and cooling your home and contributes to comfort issues. The thermal bypass checklist was developed by Energy Star Homes, and will give you an idea on where these places may be in your home. The primary purpose of the checklist is as a quality control measure during construction of new homes, but it is included here to inform the homeowner of this issue. In the past, builders have not been aware of thermal bypass issues, so these problems were not addressed during construction. In fact, most builders are not addressing them now. The infrared camera will locate these bypasses which may include defective insulation and more. The infrared camera is also an excellent tool when used in conjunction with the blower door, as during the blower door test, the air leakage pathways will change temperature and become visible to the camera.

    The Camera
    Thermal Bypass Checklist
    More On Thermal Bypass
    Infrared Images

    Recommendations for Cost Effective Energy Improvements:

    Performing a HERS rating on an existing home, including the infrared camera, Blower Door and Duct Blaster tests will identify the energy wasters. The components of the home, which consume the most energy are identified, and a plan can be developed to address the deficient items in a cost efficient manner. Correction of many energy wasters also provides for improved indoor air quality.

    Documentation for Energy Efficient Mortgages and Energy Improvement Mortgages

    There are special mortgage programs available that provide preferential terms for new and existing homes. We provide the HERS Rating reports used to certify new homes for these programs and to identify cost effective improvements which will qualify existing homes for these mortgages. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FHA and VA all participate in these programs. The advantages to the borrower include preferential terms, qualification for larger loans, less cost for utilities and higher resale value. New construction must meet ENERGY STAR standards in order to qualify.

    For existing homes, the borrower may obtain up to $8,000.00 for improvements, over and above what he/she may otherwise be qualified to borrow.

    If you have trouble finding participating lenders, contact us.

    For participants and additional information on these mortgage programs, see:

  • About Home Energy Ratings and Mortgages
  • Energy Efficient Mortgage Home Owner Guide

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    Indoor Air Quality Investigations

    Many homes suffer problems caused by improperly designed or constructed HVAC systems including oversized exhaust fans. Pressure differentials caused by operation of air moving systems, including forced air furnaces and air-conditioning systems, exhaust fans, clothes dryers and fireplaces have the potential to cause backdrafting and combustion spillage or flame rollout to combustion equipment in the home. Often the occupants may suffer occasional consequences of carbon monoxide exposure, which is often explained as "just a bug". The Building America Partner Program requires actions, including pressure testing, to assure that pressure differentials which may affect combustion appliances are not likely to occur. We use the same equipment and methods to test existing homes for this potentially dangerous situation. In addition, we use a Bacharach Fyrite Tech 60 carbon monoxide meter to determine ambient CO levels in the home.

    For additional information see the section on "backdrafting".

    Additional information:
  • Combustion Gases in Your Home
  • What Is Carbon Monoxide?


    Consultations

    We offer consulting services to assure that your remodel or new construction project takes advantage of the latest developments in energy efficiency and building science. We conduct investigations of high utility bills and comfort problems with recommendations for cost effective solutions. We calculate the payback period for the home improvement and allow you, the customer, to make informed decisions on what type of upgrade will be most cost effective over the life of your home.


    Mold

    We here in New Mexico are fortunate to live in a climate which does not normally promote mold growth. Here, most mold is the result of plumbing or roof leaks. Before remediation can be successfully completed, the source of the moisture must be identified and stopped. We can find the source of the moisture so a plan to control it may be developed.

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    ACCA (Air Conditioning Contractors Association) Manual J Calculations and Duct System Design per ACCA Manual D

    We will calculate the heating and cooling BTU and CFM of air required for each room, size the equipment and design the ductwork system. Downsizing the heating and cooling equipment to take advantage of the energy saving features you have incorporated in your home will help pay for the energy saving features. This work is performed by a New Mexico registered professional engineer.


    Active and Passive Solar

    The purpose of the four documents listed below is to demonstrate the energy savings of passive solar features as well as active and passive features combined. You will find two documents each on houses "A" and "B". House A has both active and passive solar features; house B has passive features only. There is a cover sheet for each report, which states construction features. The REM reports include estimated annual energy costs using costs in effect in September of 2005. It is worth noting that the estimated annual carbon dioxide emissions savings for house A is almost 7.5 tons.

    Solar House A Cover Sheet
    Solar House A REM Report
    Solar House B Cover Sheet
    Solar House B REM Report

    Both houses have 1728 square feet of living space with ten-foot ceilings and use the maximum amount of windows and skylights recommended by the New Mexico Solar Energy Association design guidelines. Passive Solar Design Guidelines

    The estimated annual heating and cooling costs for house A is $170.00, while the estimated annual cost for house B is $340.00.

    If you are considering incorporating solar features into a new or existing house, we suggest that you invest in the services of a solar design professional to assure that issues such as thermal mass are correctly addressed. In any event, the building envelope must be tight with no thermal bypasses.


    PNM Rebates

    Here are details of PNM's proposed rebate plan. These details are listed following the information on the federal tax credits for new and existing homes. The proposed PNM rebates are on page 2 of this document. Summary of Energy Efficiency Tax Incentives in Energy Policy Act of 2005

    PNM is awaiting approval to implement the rebate program from the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission. Money to fund this program will come from a small additional charge to consumer's gas bills. According to PNM, this additional charge is estimated to be $0.44 per month.

    Please contact the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission at 1-800-947-4722 and refer to case #05-0025-UT, letting them know that you support this program. Better yet, write a letter to:

    New Mexico Public Regulation Commission
    224 East Palace Ave.
    Santa Fe, New Mexico 87501
    Attention: Jim Brack

    Be sure and request that your letter be placed in the case file.

    The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission is constitutionally created and is charged by the Legislature with regulating public utilities, telecommunications companies, and insurance companies to the extent necessary to provide just and reasonable rates and to assure reasonable, adequate and efficient service for the public. In addition, the Commission is charged with the duties of assuring pipeline and fire safety and with the registration of corporations and compliance with applicable laws.


    The Energy Policy Act of 2005

    Homebuilders can receive federal tax credits for the construction of a new energy efficient home. Owners of existing homes can receive federal tax credits for certain energy conserving upgrades to their homes starting in 2006. Here is a simple explanation.

    Tax Credits for Solar and Energy Efficiency
    Summary of Energy Efficiency Tax Incentives in Energy Policy Act of 2005
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