GDS Associates provides energy efficiency services to owners of both new and existing homes, homebuilders, property managers, code officials, architects and others in the home building industry. Clients are provided with expert information tailored specifically to their needs and targets a home or building's energy performance, comfort, safety, and durability.
Using fundamentals of building science, GDS uses a whole-house approach to reviewing the energy performance of a building and use building diagnostics to identify opportunities to strengthen a home's energy performance, durability and safety. By viewing the house as a system of integrated components that perform as integral parts of the whole structure, cost effective alternative designs and/or improvements are developed.
Furthermore, we provide homeowners and builders with an assessment of the most effective ways to enhance existing and new home construction designs to maximize property value and minimize operation and maintenance costs.
Home Energy Ratings (HERS)
GDS is an accredited home energy rating provider and are authorized to perform unbiased third-party energy ratings, a point system by which homes can be compared for their level of energy efficiency. The use of the home energy rating system (HERS) is similar to the EnergyGuide label found on new appliances or the fuel consumption labels (mpg) on new automobiles.
The HERS scoring index provides a score representing the home's efficiency relative to the same home built in accordance with the residential energy building codes (International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). For example, the home built in accordance with residential building code (a.k.a. the reference home) would score 100 and a home that consumed 20% less energy would score a 80 (lower is better).
Energy ratings entail developing an energy profile of building based on the size, quantities and energy characteristics of the home's building components including insulation in the attic, walls and floors, windows, doors, HVAC systems, foundations and the list goes on.
In addition to assisting homebuyers in making informed home buying decisions, the resulting HERS scores are used to qualify homes for the following programs:
- Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) and utility-sponsored ENERGY STAR Homes program
- Federal energy tax credits under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT 2005)
- Energy Efficient mortgage (EEM) products of the Federal Housing Administration (FHA), Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Veteran's Administration (VA)
On-Site Energy Assessments
Whether it is a new home in the planning or construction stages or an existing home, a comprehensive home energy audit can provide clear guidance toward the most practical, cost-effective ways to maximize the home's energy efficiency from a whole house perspective. Our audits and home energy ratings take into account all energy being used in the home including heating and cooling, water heating, major appliances and lighting.
During our site visits, we can verify that framing and insulation components are performing to their maximum potential ensuring a warmer home during the winter, and a cooler home during the hot summer months.
Through GDS's residential energy efficiency services, homeowners and builders receive home inspections as well as a computer-generated report detailing cost-effective home improvements that can dramatically increase the energy efficiency of the home.
Often sales persons will approach homeowners promising unbelievable energy reductions through the purchase of their products. As energy auditors, we do not sell or promote any specific brands, particular products or fuels, so you can rest assured that our audits are truly unbiased and will only recommend improvements that will pay-off.
All of GDS energy audits and home energy ratings employ the use of air-infiltration testing (via Blower Door test equipment and duct leakage testing (via Duct Blaster® equipment).
The most practical way of estimating air infiltration or air leakage within a building's shell locating the largest and most costly air leaks in a home is through the use of Blower Door testing.
In addition to estimating the rate of air-infiltration within a structure, the blower door test is an effective way of locating the largest and most costly leaks in a home, determining whether there is an adequate supply of fresh air in homes without mechanical ventilation (and whether mechanical ventilation is required), and targeting the most cost-effective areas for air-sealing.
Leaking duct systems are a major source of heat loss in existing and new homes, and can account for as much as 25% of a home's total heat loss. Also, duct leakage can hinder heating and cooling systems from distributing conditioned air accurately, resulting in rooms that are too hot and others that are too cold. Leaks in return ducts can draw in pollutants and other irritants creating indoor air quality problems. When used in conjunction with the blower door, the Duct Blaster® can be used to determine total duct-leakage to unheated areas; essentially how much is being lost to the outside.
The Duct Blaster® is used for testing ductwork of forced hot air heating systems and central air conditioning distribution systems for builders, HVAC contractors, homeowners and energy efficiency programs. Specifically, it is used to test for duct leakage in houses and light commercial buildings. Duct leakage measurements are used to determine and demonstrate leakage problems as they impact the buildings' energy efficiency and potential health hazards.
Using infrared technology inspectors can diagnose insulation and moisture problems using technology to investigate building components by a less invasive means.
ENERGY STAR® Homes Certification
As part of our Residential Energy Efficiency Services, GDS will consult with builders and/or homeowners involved in the construction of new homes and will help builders to become participants in the U.S. Department of Energy/Environmental Protection Agency's ENERGY STAR Homes Program which allows builders to have their homes ENERGY STAR-Labeled; a valued symbol in the marketing and sale of new homes.
The ENERGY STAR Homes process is as follows:
- Energy analysis based upon plans - A review and analysis of building plans and specs is performed to develop a preliminary energy rating and recommendations are made to improve the design and/or specs for the purposes of energy performance and to achieve the required energy rating of 80 or lower;
- Mid Construction Inspection - An on-site inspection must be performed after the insulation is installed but prior to the sheetrock installation. Other mid-construction inspections may occur as needed or as requested during the construction process;
- Final Inspection - Upon the homes completion a final inspection is conducted using state-of-the-art blower door and Duct Blaster (if applicable).
Site visits during the construction process allow us to make recommendations that are cost effective and will enhance performance of the home. These recommendations will address framing, insulation, air-sealing, and ventilation strategies, as well as decisions on purchasing energy saving, ENERGY STAR labeled appliances and lighting fixtures.
By building certified ENERGY STAR Homes, you are sending the message to your customers that you use the latest building practices to construct quality homes (with focus on issues such as energy efficiency, comfort, combustion safety, durability, and proper ventilation). GDS will show you how to ensure that each home you build is a certified, high performance home with documentation to back it up.
Throughout the process, GDS will work closely with homeowners and/or builders, to answer questions, provide information, training, and recommendations to solve potential building problems. We will conduct air tightness and ventilation system tests on every ENERGY STAR Home, provide a computerized simulation of each home's projected annual energy use, and can offer valuable information and advice for sales and construction staff.
To comply with the program, homes must meet the EPA's minimum guidelines for the ENERGY STAR Home Program including their thermal by-pass checklist designed to minimize air-infiltration in the home (Click for Thermal Bypass Checklist). In addition, a home certified in NH must also meet the minimum requirements of the NH ENERGY STAR Home Program (Click for Minimum NH Program Guidelines).
Federal Energy Tax Credits - Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT)
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPACT) was signed into law by President Bush on August 8, 2005. EPACT offers builders federal tax credits for building energy efficient homes.
Under the provision for energy efficient new homes, a builder that constructs a qualified new energy efficient home may qualify for a dollar-to-dollar tax credit of up to $2,000.
To qualify for the credit the home must:
- Be located in the United States;
- Be substantially completed after August 8, 2005;
- Meet the statutory energy saving requirements, and
- Be acquired from the eligible contractor after December 31, 2005, and before January 1, 2010, for use as a residence.
- To meet the energy saving requirements a site-built home must be certified to provide a level of heating and cooling energy consumption that is at least 50 percent less than a comparable home constructed in accordance with the standards of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC). These energy savings must be independently verified by a RESNET-accredited third party energy rater.
As a RESNET accredited provider and licensed owner of the accredited software needed to provide the certification, GDS can assist in certifying the home to receive this tax credit and can provide consultation regarding necessary changes to the homes' specifications in order to attain the 50% savings requirement.
The process for certifying a home for the tax credit is the same as the process for certifying an ENERGY STAR Home. In addition, GDS will provide the necessary documentation for you to provide to your tax consultant (CPA).
Other Services Provided
Problem Solving: We have been troubleshooting problems in homes for over 10 years. Often homeowners need help with comfort concerns, window condensation, ice dams, moisture in the attic and high gas or electric use. Our team is equipped with the experience and skills necessary solve these problems and more.
LEED for Homes Third Party Verification: As an approved third party consultant, we ensure your new home meets are requirements for LEED certification.
Solar Hot Water Site Assessments: Our certified site assessment documents the potential for a solar system at your home.
Forced Air Furnace Whole System Analysis: We measure and document your system specifications. This ensures proper air flow distribution and that manufacturer's installation recommendations are met.
Combustion Safety Testing to ensure that combustion appliances (furnaces, boilers and water heaters) are properly vented and under a worst-case depressurization will still vent dangerous flue gases properly. We test for carbon monoxide (CO) spillage from boilers, furnaces and water heaters. We test to ensure that each appliance is drafting properly and safely.
Appliance Metering to determine the electric usage of major appliances (i.e. refrigerators).
Registrations and Accreditations
GDS is a registered EPA ENERGY STAR® Homes Partner
GDS is a RESNET-accredited Home Energy Rating (HERS) Provider, Certified Green Raters, and Tax Credit Verifier.
GDS is a member of the
Home Builders and Remodelers
Association of New Hampshire (HBRANH) and certified
Green Rater under the New Hampshire and National
Home Builders Associations (NAHB)
GDS is also a member of the following organizations:
- Association of Energy Service Professionals (AESP)
- National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI)
- Northeast Home Energy Ratings System Alliance (NEHERS-Alliance)
- Builders Association of Greater Boston (BAGB)
- GDS staff are members of the NH - Residential Energy Performance Association (REPA)