Everyone wants to live in the best-built home they can afford, without worrying about violent weather, fire or most other kinds of damage. At the same time, coal, oil and gas energy sources are getting more expensive and less reliable, mainly because they are becoming increasingly difficult to find and acquire. Our addiction to fossil fuels has been holding our economy hostage and causing dangerous pollution, spills, fires and explosions since we began using them more than two centuries ago. Whether or not you believe they also cause climate change, we can all agree that we would be much better off without the risks of coal, oil or gas as long as there are safe, clean and affordable alternatives.
The most popular alternative is renewable energy (RE), usually in the form of solar panels or wind turbines, but energy efficiency (EE) is just as important, especially since the safest, cleanest and cheapest energy is the kind you DON'T use. So before doing anything else for your home, you should measure and maximize its EE by finding and sealing air leaks and adding insulation to keep the inside temperature as close to your comfort level as possible. Often this weatherization (WX) you need can also become the home improvement you want, but if you don't plan ahead you could be wasting money, time and effort by buying something you may not need or installing it too soon, like doors, windows, a furnace, solar panels, or even paint.
More importantly, anyone planning on building a new house can make it so energy-efficient that it may not need any energy whatsoever, other than a relatively small number of solar panels. What’s more, the same zero-energy construction methods and materials can also result in a practically indestructible "SuperHome" that’s immune to almost any extreme weather, fire, termites, mold or harmful gases!
Founded in 2003 as RiverBend Home Inspections, the Better Building Institute was incorporated as a non-profit educational organization in 2009 while adding EE, RE and WX testing and consulting services to help home-owners the St. Louis area save energy and money. BBI's Energy Checkups take about four hours and include:
• A Blower-Door Test that creates a slight vacuum in the house so replacement-air leakage can be measured and found, followed by tips on how you can seal most of those leaks yourself - and a list of contractors who can do the work for you.
• A Home Safety Inspection, checking for combustible gas leaks, carbon-monoxide (CO) and radon gas, electrical faults, plumbing and roof leaks, and structural problems.
• Depending on outdoor temperature, a Thermal-Imaging Scan of your house, showing where insulation deficiencies exist, as well as more air leaks.
We ask only for a donation of $200 or more to cover expenses for equipment maintenance and our free seminars , rather than the $500-$1000 charged by profit-based companies. We do this because we believe everyone should know how their home performs, so they can make educated choices on how to improve it. After over fifteen years of home-inspections and EE and WX training and consulting, if we don’t have the answers to your home's problems, we'll find them. We also offer classes and free EE, RE, WX, Zero-Energy Homebuilding and Climate Change seminars at your location by request.
Visit us in the MISSOURI BOTANICAL GARDEN's Home Performance with Energy Star booth at local home shows.
The Better Building Institute is Certified by the Building Performance Institute (BPI) as an Energy Auditor and Consultant, and by the State of Illinois as an Illinois Home Weatherization Assistance Program (IHWAP) Contractors' Instructor.