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Ethan MacCormick Talks About Energy Ratings on WBAI

By April 18, 2009No Comments

Ethan MacCormick, one of Performance Systems Development’s top trainers, speaks with May Dooley of WBAI (New York City) about RESNET, home energy ratings, audits, and building efficiency.

Ethan MacCormick, who conducts training courses for PSD and also serves on the NEHERS Alliance (Northeast Home Energy Rating System Alliance) board of directors, explains that home energy ratings are used to compare the energy use of homes.

The interview covers the definition of home energy ratings, home audits and what to expect, blower door testing, equipment used and testing done during an audit, how to improve the efficiency of a home, ENERGY STAR ratings on new homes, and resources to learn more.

Some of the topics covered:

Q: What is RESNET?

A: A non-profit, member-driven organization Resdiential Energy Services Network (RESNET), which creates government-recognized standards for building energy efficiency evaluation.

Q: What is an energy rating, and what should homeowners expect?

A: Rating is a way to evaluate the energy efficiency of a home, kind of like the MPG rating on a car. A way to give a house a number between 0 and 100 that indicates what to expect from energy use in the house, and comparing the house independent of human behavioral factors. ENERGY STAR ratings for new homes indicate the efficiency level of a new home, compared to the energy used in a standard home of the same characteristics.

Q: What can be expected in a home energy audit?

A: An audit is an evaluation of an existing home to try and assist a homeowner identify where to save money and energy. Audits differ from ratings in that the audit is targeted toward the use of a home and how to increase efficiency for the home as it is being used, while ratings are designed to show the building’s inherent efficiency as a structure.

Q: How can people find energy raters for their home?

A: Home Performance with Energy Star program – makes sure that auditors take the whole building into account for auditing. List of programs in various geographical areas offering whole house building audits and energy raters. – Listing of ratings providers for state, certified by RESNET
Look for catch phrase “whole house approach” and “home performance” in energy audit programs to assure that your auditor is taking the interaction of the whole house is using energy as a system.

Q: What is the equipment and techniques that should be used in a good energy audit?


  • Blower door test – measures leakage in a house (but should not be the entire audit)
  • Looking at all the components that go into a building
  • Infrared camera – evaluating insulation levels and leakage
  • Examining and measuring efficiency of heating and cooling systems
  • Examining efficiency and leakage in duct work
  • Meaningful follow-up and report to the homeowner

PA Home Energy website has a good list of resources for what to expect in an audit, including video clips.

Tagline: April 2009, Ithaca, NY
Written By: Ethan MacCormick
Publisher: WBAI Public Radio
Type: Radio Interview
Sector: Residential