San Diego HERS Testing & Title-24 Calculations

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A Home Energy Rating Systems (HERS) Rater- is a certified professional that is trained on the principals of Building Science. HERS Raters have specialized training on how to evaluate the efficiency of a home. HERS Raters perform specific diagnostic testing and provide performance measurements for HVAC systems, insulation, water heating equipment, and how heat is lost in a home.

HERS Raters use certain testing instruments to evaluate a homes efficiency. 

HERS Raters are independent third party inspectors. Building Departments consider HERS Raters as “Special Inspectors” and rely on the compliance documentation produced by the HERS Rater to Final a Building Permit.

The California Energy Commission (CEC) sanctions Home Energy Rating System (HERS) providers to educate and authorize raters. These providers curate rosters of qualified raters capable of assessing the performance of licensed contractors in areas such as heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC), insulation, and plumbing.

HERS providers supervise raters as they execute Title 24 Energy Code adherence checks in both newly constructed residential and non-residential structures, as well as in the modification and expansion projects of existing buildings. Additionally, these providers have contributed to the New Solar Homes Partnership Program and have instituted comprehensive whole-house home energy rating systems in California.

CalCERTS is the most trusted, reliable, and respected HERS provider in the State of California.

The HERS Registry is an online portal hosted and maintained by the HERS provider. The California Energy Commission (CEC) must approve the HERS providers HERS registry. The HERS raters certified by the HERS provider use the registry to report field testing data and produce the Title-24 compliance documents required by building departments. Additionally, the registry allows home owners, energy consultants, and architects to create user accounts giving them the ability to establish projects. Contractors also have access to the registry so they can report and log project data as necessary to produce “Installation Certificates” (CF-2R). The registry produces watermarked documents with unique registration numbers which establish validity to the building department.

CalCERTS is the most trusted, reliable, and respected HERS provider in the State of California with a fully CEC approved HERS Registry.

A Title-24 report is a set of documents completed by an energy consultant that demonstrates a projects energy compliance with the California Building Energy Efficiency Standards. A Title-24 report will detail the energy efficiency expectations for each energy demanding component of the building for which is what calculated. This includes the climate zone in which the project is located, the size of the building in square feet, the building height in stories, the Heating and Air conditioning equipment, the building envelope (windows, wall thickness, insulation, roofing) along with many other details associated with the buildings energy efficiency features.

The CF-1R (officially titled CF-1R-PRF-01E) is the Title-24 report that details a buildings expectations with respect to energy efficiency. Essentially, this document is the design document and is created by an energy consultant through the energy modeling process, within the energy modeling software. A CF-1R must be registered with the HERS provider in order to be valid. Registered CF-1R’s have a watermark of the HERS providers logo along with a unique registration number, file name, and time/date of the registration.

The CF-2R document is the Installation Certificate and is generated by the HERS registry after the responsible installing contractor reports their information for the component installed (i.e. HVAC, Insulation, Water Heater, etc.). The installers responsible for reporting installation data to the registry include, plumbing contractors, HVAC contractors, Insulation contractors, Window installers, and Roofing contractors.

The CF-3R document is the HERS Compliance Certificate and can only be produced through the HERS registry for which the CF-1R was registered and can only be produced by the HERS Rater. The CF-3R is the document your building official will rely on to sign off on your building permit. All CF-3R’s are watermarked by the HERS provider. The CF-3R cannot be produced by the HERS Rater until after all CF-2R’s are complete.

HERS Raters perform a variety of inspections & performance diagnostic testing for new and existing homes/buildings. We test HVAC ducts to make sure proper sealing was completed by the installer so air isn’t leaking into unconditioned spaces. HERS Raters also check the installation quality of insulation to assure the insulation is installed to perform properly. We perform diagnostic testing for the HVAC systems air flow, and electric usage, and check to make sure the correct amount of refrigerant is installed in the AC system. Indoor Air Quality Ventilation systems are also diagnostically tested to make sure a home has healthy ventilation. HERS Raters are specially trained to evaluate a homes energy efficiency and test a all of a homes energy features.

In short, this is a verification performed at the pre-drywall stage of construction to make sure proper air sealing was performed and that the insulation was installed properly. Insulation slows down heat transfer and is measured in a metric called R-Value. (i.e. R-19). The greater the R-Value number, the better the insulation is at slowing the heat transfer. Insulation will only perform to the rated R-Value if it is installed properly. “Installed properly” means that the insulation is not compressed, and is in full alignment with an air barrier on all six sides (front-back, top-bottom, left-right) such as exterior sheathing, drywall, and framing. If your CF-1R-PRF-01E, on page 3 in the HERS Feature summary shows that you have a Quality Insulation Verification, it is critical that you make sure your insulation installer knows to install the insulation accordingly, and that you have the HERS Rater verify the insulation prior to covering with drywall.

A duct test is a diagnostic performance test performed by the HERS Rater to measure the amount of duct air leakage. The test is conducted using a tool called a Duct Blaster System. The Duct Blaster System is a fan that is connected to a gauge called a manometer. The HERS rater will temporarily seal the air vent grilles (wall registers) with a plastic adhesive and then connect the fan to the return air grille. The fan works in hand with the computer. The duct system is pressurized by the fan and the computer will then be able to determine how much air leaking. Duct air leakage typically occurs around connection points- connections to the wall registers, the equipment, and branches. One pre-requisite the HERS rater will require before conducting the duct leakage test is for the wall registers (sheet metal cans hidden behind the grilles) to be sealed to the drywall (or floor if using floor registers). The “can to drywall” seal can be implemented with construction silicone, caulk, or polyisobutylene foil backed tape.

An indoor air quality (IAQ) test is a performance diagnostic measurement where the HERS Rater measures the amount of air the IAQ fan is producing. The California Energy Commission (CEC) established a requirement for all new homes to have a fresh air ventilation system installed. The amount of air that the IAQ fan must move is calculated according to a standard defined by ASHRAE 62.2. There are two kinds of ventilation systems, balanced and unbalanced. In a balanced system, there are two separate fans. One fan is dedicated to pulling fresh filtered air into the home while another fan is dedicated to exhausting air out of the home. An unbalanced system is one where there is only one fan that pulls air out of the home. The most typical type of system we see is the unbalanced system where the exhaust fan (typically located in a bathroom or laundry room) is set to stay on 24/7. The HERS Rater will measure the fan(s) using an instrument called a balometer or flow hood. You can look on your CF-1R-PRF-01E near the end of the report for the IAQ section which will detail the CFM requirement for the fan. It is always recommended to install a fan that is rated for a higher CFM than what is specified on the CF-1R.

If your CF-1R-PRF-01E, on page 3 in the HERS Feature Summary is calling for a kitchen range hood verification, it is critical to make sure the kitchen range hood being installed is certified by the Home Ventilating Institute (HVI) and is on their directory, or by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM)

If your CF-1R-PRF-01E, on page 3, in the HERS Feature Summary says you have a Fan Efficacy Watts/CFM requirement, a HERS Rater will need to check the Watt draw of the HVAC system fan on high speed (usually cooling). The Watt draw is recorded. Then the HERS Rater will measure and record the systems airflow in CFM. Using simple math (Watts divided by CFM) we can quantify the amount of Watts each CFM is drawing. The CEC has determined that the Watt draw must not exceed 0.45 Watts per CFM.

If your CF-1R-PRF-01E, on page 3, in the HERS Feature Summary says you have a Verified Heat Pump Rated Heat Capacity requirement, the HERS Rater will verify the make and model number of the installed equipment and then using the Air Conditioning, Heating, & Refrigerant Institute (AHRI) Directory, the HERS Rater will verify that the rated heat capacity of the installed equipment meets or exceeds what is specified on the CF-1R document.

If your CF-1R-PRF-01E, on page 3, in the HERS Feature Summary says you have a Reduced Building Infiltration test, the HERS Rater will use a testing instrument called a “Blower Door” to measure the air leakage of the home. Home construction naturally comes with air leaks through gaps and cracks in the wall system, around windows and doors and penetrations through the walls and ceilings. When the amount of leakage is excessive, conditioned air is lost through the leaks causing comfort issues and high energy bills. The Title-24 report will set a threshold for the allowable envelope air leakage. The blower door leakage is measured in Air Changes per Hour (ACH).

If your CF-1R-PRF-01E, on page 3, in the HERS Feature Summary says you have a Verified Refrigerant Charge Measurement, the HERS Rater will verify that the air conditioning system has the correct amount of refrigerant installed. The air conditioning system has an indoor component called the “coil” and an outdoor component called the “condenser”. The refrigerant charge test takes place at the outdoor condenser. The HERS Rater will use a set of gauges and a thermometer to measure the systems refrigerant charge. Manufacturers specify the subcool temperature in degrees Fahrenheit. In order to pass the RCM test, the actual subcool must be within +/- 2°F of the manufacturers target.

If the unfortunate happens, and your home was covered in drywall without having the HERS Rater verify that the insulation was installed according to the QII standards, the Title-24 will have to be recalculated with that HERS measure removed. Please call us if this is the case and we can offer some solutions.

If the HERS Rater determines that one of the diagnostic performance measurements is failing, such as the duct leakage test, the HERS Rater can work with your HVAC contractor to provide recommendations on how to further seal the duct system. The same would go for the Refrigerant Charge Measurement, Fan Watt Draw Test, Reduced Building Infiltration Test, and Airflow Test. However, if the equipment installed is not meeting the rated efficiency expectations as reflected on the Title-24 report, or if the Quality Installed Insulation verification was missed, the energy consultant would have to recalculate the Title-24 using the actual efficiencies or/and remove the QII credit and recalculate the report. 

The amount of time the HERS Testing will require, is dependent on the amount of testing reflected on the CF-1R-PRF-01 on page 3, in the HERS feature summary.

For a single HVAC system home, with Duct Leakage testing, Fan Watt Draw measurement, Airflow verification, IAQ, and Refrigerant Charge Testing, the HERS Rater can typically be done all testing within 3 hours.

We do our best to deliver HERS documents within 1-2 days after the field inspection. However, there are pre-requisites that must be met before we are even able to input the field data to produce the CF-3R. For new construction projects, additions and alterations where there is a Title-24 report, we must first receive the export file from the Title-24 consultant. Then, we will have the ability to electronically share the project with the responsible installers. Only after the installers complete their inputs to the HERS registry, will we as the HERS Raters be able to input our field testing results and produce the CF-3R’s.  You can assist the pace of this process by helping us communicate the time sensitive response requests to your Title-24 documentation author and also to your responsible contractors.

Additionally, some building officials request more than just the HERS compliance CF-3R documentation and require that the other responsible trades also complete all of the CF-2R installation certificates. This would include plumbing for hot water heater, insulation (even if there is not a Quality Installed Insulation requirement), windows, roof, and HVAC.

Please rest assured we are working diligently to make this process as simple as possible for you as our client and are committed to carrying you and your project over the finish line.

Your Title-24 report can typically be found in your permitted set of blueprints (drawings). Blueprint sets are organized differently by various design consultants. First, we recommend looking at the index on the plan set where it details what page or section in the plans each respective section can be found. If it is not detailed in the index, look to the pages proceeding the architectural section (A.00 Sheets), if not there, look towards the end of the mechanical section (M.00) sheets. If you still cannot locate it, look towards the very last pages of the drawings. As a last resort, you can call your designer and ask where you can find a copy of the Title-24 energy calculations.

Once you locate your Title-24 report, look towards the end pages and find a block where there is bold print that says “Documentation Author”. Usually there is a name and a phone number listed for who prepared the report. We will need the documentation authors contact information so that we can request they transfer the HERS registration file to us so we can upload it to the HERS provider, CalCERTS.

The file we will need from the T-24 author is called the “XML” file. This is the file we need to upload to CalCERTS.

If the project is already registered with CalCERTS, the energy consultant can initiate a simple transfer process within the CalCERTS registry.

Being prepared is commendable. The best way for you to prepare for the HERS test is make sure you have your HVAC installers information on hand when you schedule with us. We will take on the task of communicating with the installer to make sure they have installed the system to pass HERS which includes asking them… 

Are the ducts sealed properly. 

Are the “boots sealed to the drywall”? 

If it’s a pedestal system, is the pedestal properly lined? 

If the system required refrigerant charge measurement, did they charge according to the manufacturers subcool temperature listed on the nomenclature?

Is the system set for high speed in cooling mode?

Would they like to have a representative present during the HERS test so that any potential failures can be remedied in real time thus avoiding an additional site visit and extra costs?

The simple answer is ‘No’. HERS Raters are third party inspectors and take no responsibility for the installers work. If the system is failing, the installer or home owner is the only person who can make the correction.

To create your user account with CalCERTS, please visit the CalCERTS  website and in the upper right hand corner on the home page, press the “Register” button. The process is rather simple. Please take note of your username and password.

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