We all want to live in a home that we can depend on to keep us...
Safe in times of violent weather, wildfires or other natural disasters;
Healthy by avoiding exposure to toxic gases, mold and allergens; and...
Comfortable during even the hottest summers and coldest winters.
At the same time, the price of traditional energy keeps rising, while its reliability and safety decline, especially when we compare them to renewables like solar or wind. Our addiction to fossil fuels has held our economy hostage while causing dangerous pollution, spills, fires and explosions since we began using them over two centuries ago, and those disasters are more common every year. Even if you don't believe they are also the biggest cause of climate change, you should still agree that we'd be better off without them.
But we can get ahead of this transformation by improving our homes' energy-efficiency (EE) before we add renewable energy (RE). The first thing to remember is that the safest, cleanest and cheapest energy is the kind we DON'T use. This means that before we do anything else to our homes (like adding or replacing doors, windows, a furnace, or solar panels), we need to maximize their EE by measuring, finding and sealing any air leaks and insulation weaknesses, to keep the inside temperature as close to our comfort level as possible. At the same time, this weatherization (WX) can also make our homes stronger and more resilient to severe weather!
On the other side of the coin, if we're planning to build a new home, we can expand on this technology to the point where it may not need any energy other than a few solar panels and/or a small wind turbine. This zero-energy construction technology can even result in a practically indestructible "SuperHome" that’s immune to almost any extreme weather, fire, floods, earthquakes, termites, mold or harmful off-gassing!
The first step is to find out how well our homes perform by having an Energy Audit done to find the air leaks and insulation weaknesses so they can be fixed. This is what the Better Building Institute does. Founded in 2003 as an Illinois-licensed home-inspection business, BBI was incorporated as a non-profit educational organization in 2009 when we added EE, RE and WX testing and consulting services to help St. Louis-area home-owners save energy and money. BBI's Energy Checkups usually take about three 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.
- Consultation on how you can fix the problems, and a list of contractors who can do it for you.
- Weather permitting, a thermal-imaging scan of your house to help find insulation weak spots.
We ask only for a donation of $150 for our three-hour Home Energy & Safety Checkup, rather than the $500-$1000 charged by most other for-profit companies. We do this because we believe everyone should know how well their home performs, so they can make educated choices on how to improve it. After more than fifteen years of home-inspections, energy audits, and EE, RE 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 seminars on EE, RE, WX, Net-Zero Homebuilding and Climate Change by request at your location.
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.