All Posted on August, 2014

Five Time Saving Tips for Home Energy Raters

Saturday, August 16th, 2014

Five Time Saving Tips for Home Energy Raters

As a home energy rater, you understand the necessity of using your time as efficiently as possible. From takeoffs to certificates, organization is key, and a well-planned day will likely lead to a successful day. While most view our profession as taking place in the home, a large portion of our work occurs before and after the energy rating. Using the prep and follow-up time effectively will increase the time you spent doing the parts of the job you truly love.

At EnergyLogic, we’ve refined our processes over the years to capitalize on new technologies that increase efficiency. Here are four time saving tips that will increase your efficiency and organization. With all that time saved you’ll have more time for A) more home energy ratings B) your family C) fishing. Your call.

el car mtn top bdr

#1 Reduce Drive Time with Strategic Scheduling

Driving out to sprawling developments consumes a lot of time and money. While we can’t refuse jobs because they don’t fall in our preferred radius, we can schedule better.

This is where preparation pays off. When you get assignments from different builders in disparate towns, take the time to plug all the locations into Google maps. Calculate the driving distances (and times) and see if there are any assignments close together, or along the same route. These are good candidates for scheduling on the same day if possible.

For years, EnergyLogic founders Steve Byers (based in Berthoud, CO) and Robby Schwarz (based in Denver, CO) would see each other conducting ratings in overlapping “territories.” This didn’t make sense to either of them so they combined forces and started a home energy rating business together. This allowed for each of them to conduct more ratings, and stay closer to home.

If you’re overlapping territory with another rater, consider a partnership. This approach not only makes a lot of financial sense when there are sufficient ratings in your vicinity, but also means less drive time and more time doing what you enjoy most.

#2 Office Support to Help with the Heavy Lifting

Are you spending too much time reaching out to builders, printing certificates, scheduling your days, and/or billing? If so, you might want to consider hiring part-time or full-time office support.

At EnergyLogic, our Logistics Team allows our raters to perform high quality work at an efficient pace. They handle all prep and follow-up; including, communication with builders, strategic scheduling, certificates, and billing.

If resources allow, hiring office support will help you scale your business and increase the amount of time you spend in the field. If you haven’t already, we recommend hiring for office support before hiring another rater.

sketchup bdr

#3 Software for Takeoffs

With proper scheduling, you should receive the plan set in time to produce takeoffs before the day of the rating. Depending on the software that you use, this can either be a time consuming or quick and easy process. At EnergyLogic, we prefer the latter.

Are you still producing your takeoffs in Excel? Would you like to cut that time in half while improving the quality of your takeoffs? We’ve found that using Sketchup to produce takeoffs requires 50% less time compared to Excel. 

At the EnergyLogic Academy, we’ve been teaching Sketchup for years and our graduates continue to use the software to this day. It is intuitive, inexpensive, and can help you produce higher quality takeoffs in less time.

DASH bdr

#4 Energy Rating Management Platform for Growing Companies

Interested in growing your business but not sure how your current processes will scale? It may be time to investigate an Energy Rating Management Platform.

As you grow and add staff, having everyone on the same page using a centralized system is critical to managing your business. After years of running our rating business with a mix of software systems, we created DASH, our “Enterprise Management Software” designed for home energy raters. DASH is an extremely cost-effective option for growing home energy rating businesses that allows you to:

  • manage your job and administrative schedule
  • track jobs and job data through the entire process
  • integrate with QuickBooks® for billing and invoicing
  • integrate with REM/Rate® for HERS ratings
  • consolidate and report data for clients, builders, sponsor programs, utilities, environmental programs, and more

For growing companies, DASH provides all the necessary tools in one, easy-to-use online resource. We find that companies that use DASH increase their efficiency both in the office and in the field.  Contact us today for a demo tour to see if DASH is the right tool for your home energy rating business.

#5 Never Forget The Benefits of Efficiency

As a home energy rater, you are keenly aware of the tangible benefits of energy efficiency within a home. As a small business owner, you should also strive for efficiency in all areas of the energy rating process.

An efficient and organized energy rating process will leave you with more time to do what you do best. Whether that is building relationships with builders, increasing the number of ratings, spending more time on-site working with subs to prevent pesky re-inspections, or preparing for your fantasy league’s Draft Day, these time saving tips will help improve your rating process.

These tips are a culmination of years of conducting home energy ratings and organizing our business to be more efficient and productive.  We hope these tips can help you achieve the results in efficiency you’re looking for.

What tricks do you use to save time and improve ratings? Please share them below!

Glenn Pease: RaterFest! 2014 SpeakerGlenn Pease 
Energy Professional Technical Services 
EnergyLogic Inc Provider Services

Crawlspace Modeling isn’t all Runways and Catwalks

Sunday, August 3rd, 2014

Crawlspace Modeling isn’t all Runways and Catwalks

Black CatModeling crawlspaces in REMRate can be a challenge for new and experienced raters alike. And it seems that just when you think you have it figured out, we get new guidance and have to model it differently all over again. Building codes and misconceptions among designers and builders have only served to further the problem over the years. I hope to offer some clarity on the issue here.

Like an insistent dog, the latest boy band, the hottest runway model, or even a pack of semi-feral neighborhood kids on summer break; crawlspace modeling comes down to one question: are you in or are you out?

First, let’s cover some important language. In REMRate, we get to choose between three types of crawlspaces: open, enclosed, and conditioned.

Open
When I was a young rater (at least when I my hair was more dark than silver) I thought an “open” crawlspace was one with vents.  But that is not so.  An “open” crawlspace is one without a true foundation wall enclosing it.  We don’t see those much in cold climates, except in mobile homes.  But they are quite common in places like Hawaii and New Orleans.  Think of this as a house on piers.  The outside “walls” may be closed in with a skirting or lattice, but that is mostly for aesthetics.  There isn’t truly a wall for “open” crawlspaces, so essentially we have outside conditions in that space.

REMRate Crawlspace Modeling


Conditioned

A “conditioned” crawlspace is a crawlspace that is actively being conditioned to at or near the set point temperature of the home.  Typically, these will have insulation on the foundation walls instead of the floor joists and a good design will include a sealed vapor barrier (or rat slab) over the dirt floor.  But not everyone understands good crawlspace design, so you might not have all of those conditions.  The important thing to determine is whether or not there is active space conditioning.  For homes with forced air systems, there will typically be more than one supply in the crawlspace.  There are two additional key items to model for homes with conditioned crawlspace.  First, be sure to model the crawlspace floor in the slab screen in REM (whether it is made of dirt or concrete).  Second, a recent update in REM added “adiabatic” frame floors which must be modeled for homes with conditioned crawlspaces in order for REM to correctly configure the reference home.

Enclosed

Once you understand the definition of an “open” and “conditioned” crawlspace, it is easier to understand the term “enclosed” crawlspace.  These are crawlspaces that are enclosed at the perimeter with a foundation wall (block, brick, stone, concrete, etc), but not actively conditioned.  They may or may not have vents.  Once you’ve chosen this crawlspace type, you must define the venting conditions (unvented, vented, operable vents) and the thermal boundary location (floor or walls).  Here is where you decide whether the crawlspace in question is in or out.  If you leave the thermal boundary location at the default, REMRate will determine thermal boundary location based on insulation levels in the floor and walls.

The Dreaded “Gray Area

Seems straight forward, right?  What could possibly go wrong?  Well despite efforts to idiot-proof things, the world always seems to engineer a better idiot.  I’ve been in homes with partial basements that are wide open to a vented, dirt floor crawlspace.  Now what?  The basement air is being conditioned and that air is shared with a vented crawlspace.  Is the crawlspace then conditioned too?  Can you be conditioned by association?  Where is the boundary between inside and out?  And I’ve been in homes where the crawl started out as “open” only for the walls to be poorly retrofitted in later with stone.  Is this still open, or is it an enclosed crawl with a leaky wall?  When all else fails, go back to the original question (the same one you want to ask your dog, your daughter, Heidi Klum, or those neighborhood kids).  “You can be in or you can be out, but not both.  What’s it gonna be?”  In other words, will the crawlspace in question more closely track the set point temperature of the home (conditioned), the outside conditions (open), or will it be a true buffer zone staying somewhere in between (enclosed)?


Scott Doyle
Director of Field Services
EnergyLogic and EnergyLogic Academy