RESNET HERS Rater National Conference Notes

Wed, 2010-02-24 14:23

I attended the RESNET conference in Raleigh, NC this week. As I walked the 50 or so booths, I was impressed by the innovative products and services that have developed to support energy auditors and the energy efficiency industry. The big technological advances revolved around cameras and software, but there were a number of small manufacturers as well.


Infrared Cameras continue to shrink in both size and cost. I saw a new one with the ability to store 5,000 images. Wow! I hope I don't forget where I took all those pictures. I also saw a miniature bore scope camera with a flexible dongle that can be inserted into wall cavities or floor joists to see exactly what is behind that sheetrock.


Carbon monoxide, combustible gases, and atmospheric temperature/pressure sensors all seem to be shrinking and combining together. It'll be neat when all of those devices are in one casing about the size of a cell phone.

Minneapolis and Retrotec Blower Doors

Both of these manufacturers were present. It was good to speak with the representatives in person. I asked The Energy Conservatory (who manufactures the Minneapolis Blower Door) what else the DG-700 manometer does because it seemed to have a lot more capability than what is required for most basic energy audits. Well, I guess it can connect to a computer with a 75' serial cable so you could operate multiple systems from a great distance - I'm still not sure why it takes so many buttons to do some of the simpler functions. Maybe we’ll just have to wait for Apple to come out with the iManometer first.

At the Retrotec booth, I saw their commercial blower door with a 2hp external motor assistant, which is great for testing spaces larger than 4000 sq ft. I also saw their pictorial step-by-step guide to the blower door operation. Having only used Minneapolis blower doors so far, it was pretty interesting to see a different setup. Ultimately, both are similar in concept with a lot of little differences between them. I’ll hold my judgment on Retrotec until I actually get to play with one of their systems, but at first look, I was impressed with some of the innovative features on their system.

Energy Audit Software

There were a number of software vendors at the conference. Advanced Energy from Raleigh, NC seemed to have one of the cooler programs that allows a home performance contractor or energy auditor to pre-diagnose a customer's home from the comfort of their own desk. The software uses Bing Maps’ Bird's eye view, and the auditor conducts a phone interview with the homeowner on the basic characteristics of the home. The software spits out a complexity of the energy retrofit. This upfront analysis saves both the homeowner and the auditor time. If the costs or complexity are too high, the homeowner is forewarned before the auditor even spends any time (and money) onsite. Ultimately, it reminded me of the Home Energy Saver web tool available from Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, but it’s nice to see other groups in the field are innovating as well.

DOW, Honeywell, and more

There were a number of big companies at the show, although it was a bit hard to tell exactly what they were there for.

Neat Products

I saw magnetized duct covers that alleviate BPI Building Analysts and HERS Raters from the hassles of taping over the ductwork. At $425/set of 25 magnets, it seemed pricey, but cool nonetheless. Also, I’m not sure if they are 100% airtight, so it might skew readings a little during a duct blaster test. I also saw a $6 rigid plastic duct corner that ensures that ductwork makes the perfect 90-degree turn without getting kinked. The way I see it, a home builder or energy auditor could spend $50 on some of these innovative toys and save a homeowner thousands of dollars over the life of a home.

Building Performance Institute

BPI was present and had their booth, which seemed to be a hot spot to visit. We spent some time there speaking with Vikki Murphy, who is always a pleasure to work with, and she introduced us to a number of other folks at the conference including Steve Baden, the director of RESNET.

National Save

We saw Chris and Pat from National Save and had some interesting conversations with them. They work at the national level, lobbying Congress to invest in energy efficiency. They seemed pretty optimistic about some of the legislation coming out of Congress. I bet that’s the first time you’ve heard anyone use "optimistic" and "Congress" in the same sentence in a while.

Overall, there is a lot going on in the home performance industry. It was energizing to see the industry grow and advance.