Q: Do I need HERS Compliance Testing for energy efficiency?
A: Yes. The State of California is committed to reducing energy used by HVAC systems. In order to meet these energy goals, all homeowners and the installing contractors are required to comply with the requirements of the California Code of Regulations Title 24, Part 6, Energy Efficiency Standards for Residential and Nonresidential Buildings. The current code became effective January 1, 2010 which requires Field Verification and Diagnostic Testing (FV/DT). Enhanced duct sealing, proper refrigerant charge, airflow, and fan-watt draw are some of the testing requirements that may apply to your job. Your HERS Rater will advise you of the required tests.
Q: When does the HERS Rater arrive?
A: After completion of the HVAC install, the HERS Rater must perform the verification and testing. This step is required prior to calling for a final inspection by your local building inspector.
Remember, the HERS Rater tests for “energy efficiency”– the building inspector inspects for “building code” and “health & safety” issues.
Q: What does a HERS test consist of?
A: For a typical HVAC system with “existing ducts”:
- Duct Leakage Testing is performed by first sealing off all supply and return registers for that system using special sealed “pans” or adhesive masking materials. A diagnostic fan flow meter is then connected to the system and records the leakage flow.
- Refrigerant Charge Measurement (RCM) is measured at the outside condenser unit with special gauges.
- Airflow can be tested and verified by several methods including flow capture hood, flow grid, and/or temperature split.
For a “Whole New System” which includes “new ducting,” add:
- Cooling Coil Airflow (CCA)
- Fan-Watt Draw (FWD)
Q: How long will a HERS test take?
A: Half hour to an Hour. However, if it is determined that additional “tuning” is needed, the installer will need to make adjustments until the HERS Rater achieves passing results. Each job varies depending on the circumstances. Occasionally, a return trip is required.
Q: Do I need to prepare for the HERS test?
A: No special preparation is generally needed. However:
- Your HERS Rater will need access to the equipment and all rooms that are served by the HVAC System being tested.
- Step ladders are used at each register or a pan-and-pole system.
- Furniture moving should be addressed with your rater prior to HERS testing.
- Please make arrangements for your pets if open doors are a concern.
Q: Will the HVAC be on during the HERS testing?
A: Yes and No. For duct leakage, the system is turned off. For refrigerant charge and airflow, the system is on.
Q: What about the paperwork?
A: Your HERS Rater will provide the proper documentation to you or your contractor depending on your instructions. Typically, the contractor will deliver two copies of the documentation to the jobsite: one for the homeowner, and one for the local building inspector. Keep your documents in a safe spot with your important papers. HERS documents can be used for future real estate transactions, energy upgrades, utility programs, refinancing, Energy Efficient Mortgages (EEM), future HVAC repairs. etc.
Q: What is a duct leak test?
A: A Duct leakage HERS test is a pressure test to measure any air loss in your duct system. The HERS Rater seals off the duct system to pressurize it using special duct testing equipment that measures the input and loss. The Energy Department found that the average homes duct system leaks approximately 30% and made duct leakage testing mandatory Oct 2005.
Q: What is a HERS Rater
A: Home Energy Rating System Rater (HERS Rater) is a person Trained and Certified by a State approved organization through the California Department of Energy to perform Testing pertaining to conserving energy. HERS Raters can perform many services from duct testing to builder inspections for LEED or Energy Star programs, energy credits, or other energy saving inspections.
Q: What is the role of a HERS Rater?
HERS I: Title 24 Compliance Rating
- HVAC System Field Verification & Diagnostics Testing (FV/DT) is required when changes are made to existing HVAC systems or when installing entirely new systems. Some exceptions apply depending on the details of the project. The California 2008 Building Energy Efficiency Standards (Title 24, Part 6) define these procedures.
- HERS Raters perform FV/DT of HVAC system installations to document energy efficiency as per the Standards. This is a mandatory requirement and is enforced by the local building departments. The basic tests include duct leakage testing, refrigerant charge verification, and airflow measurement.
- The Standards introduce the requirement for residential energy compliance documents to be registered electronically with a HERS provider data registry (CalCerts) prior to submittal to a local enforcement agency/building department.
- Residential buildings and Non-Residential/Commercial buildings are treated differently. Non-Residential HERS testing is limited, but the paperwork required of the installing contractor is extensive as compared to Residential.
- New Construction, Alterations, and Repairs are each treated differently by the Standards and the required paperwork varies dramatically.
- Quality Insulation Installation (QII): Energy credits can be earned by having a QII in which a HERS Rater inspects and verifies that the insulation in your home has been installed according to standards.
Q: I’m a contractor and only changed out the condenser. Do I need a HERS Rater Duct Leakage Test?
A: Yes. As of Oct 2005 changing or adding the coil, condenser, or furnace or adding more than 40 feet of ducting needs a HERS Rater duct leakage test. The City requires the CF-6R and CF-4R forms before finalizing the permit. Effective January 1 2010 the DOE added a Refrigerant Charge Measurement. We can provide you with both of these forms after the HERS Rating is completed.