When you think of October, maybe pumpkins, sweaters, and Halloween come to mind. For those of us who work in sustainability, we also know that it’s Energy Awareness Month (some use the “A” for Action). That awareness starts with knowing WHAT the best technologies and certifications are, but it also includes the HOW: how they are installed and, ultimately, how efficiently they function.

For example, labels like ENERGY STAR are helpful in signaling that a product will use less energy than a comparative one that doesn’t have the label. But it doesn’t account for how well a product has been commissioned when installed. And this is a problem. Independent studies have repeatedly found that a high end piece of equipment doesn’t often function at its rated efficiency because the contractor didn’t size, install, and commission it according to the manufacturer’s specifications. This means that while you may have purchased a SEER 15 heat pump, it effectively could be functioning like a SEER 10. For your family, that means you won’t be as comfortable or saving as much energy and money.

The Importance of “Quality Install”

In the heating and cooling industry, the official term for doing the job right is “Quality Install,” and there are a couple of standards your contractor can reference. One is from the Air Conditioning Contractors of America (ACCA), and it’s called QI5. The other is from the federal government’s ENERGY STAR program, and it’s called an Energy Star Verified Installation or ESVI. To comply with these standards, contractors have to do certain calculations of energy load and air distribution to properly size the equipment and the ducts. They also must test the performance of the equipment after install and adjust things like the refrigerant charge to ensure the unit functions as intended.

In new construction, Quality Install is becoming a very hot topic. For years no one paid attention to it, but more and more quality builders are requiring that their HVAC subcontractors document a Quality Installation through one of these standards or through commissioning the system with a monitoring and control device like Emerson’s ComfortGuard.

But why should a Quality Install be only for new construction? What about all the new equipment we install as we update the homes in which we already live? A new furnace, heat pump, or air conditioner costs thousands of dollars, and it can make or break your comfort in your own home. Ask your contractor about getting a Quality Installation to ensure the job is done right. In Pearl’s Certification system we award a fair number points for a Quality Install because we understand how important it is to get what you paid for!

So if you decide to install any energy efficient equipment in your home, start with looking for the right certifications and then ensure it benefits from a Quality Install. You can learn something new every day this Energy Awareness/Action Month.

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