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Frequently Asked Questions about HERS Testing & Title-24.

If you cannot find the answer to your question below, please feel free to reach out to us via phone, email or by using the online form located on the Contact Us page.

Please also visit the Title-24 HERS Rater Verifications explained page.

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A Home Energy Rating Systems (HERS) Rater is a certified professional trained in the principles of Building Science. HERS Raters undergo specialized training to assess the efficiency of homes, conducting diagnostic tests and providing performance measurements for HVAC systems, insulation, water heating equipment, and heat loss. Using specific testing instruments, HERS Raters evaluate a home's efficiency. They serve as independent third-party inspectors, recognized by Building Departments as "Special Inspectors," providing compliance documentation crucial for obtaining a Building Permit.

The California Energy Commission (CEC) authorizes Home Energy Rating System (HERS) providers to train and certify raters. These providers maintain lists of qualified raters with expertise in assessing the performance of licensed contractors in areas like heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC), insulation, and plumbing.

Under the supervision of HERS providers, raters conduct Title 24 Energy Code compliance checks in newly constructed residential and non-residential buildings, as well as in renovation and expansion projects of existing structures. Additionally, these providers play a crucial role and implement comprehensive whole-house home energy rating systems across California.

Among HERS providers in California, CalCERTS stands out as the most trusted, reliable, and respected.

The HERS Registry, an online platform maintained by the HERS provider, is subject to approval by the California Energy Commission (CEC). Certified HERS raters affiliated with the provider utilize this registry to input field testing data and generate Title-24 compliance documents mandated by building departments. Moreover, the registry permits homeowners, energy consultants, and architects to create user accounts for project management purposes. Contractors also access the registry to record and track project data, facilitating the issuance of "Installation Certificates" (CF-2R). Watermarked documents with unique registration numbers are produced by the registry, lending credibility to submissions made to building departments.

CalCERTS, boasting a fully CEC-approved HERS Registry, is widely regarded as the most trusted, reliable, and respected HERS provider in California.

A Title-24 report comprises documents prepared by an energy consultant, showcasing a project's adherence to the California Building Energy Efficiency Standards. These reports delineate the energy efficiency standards applicable to each component of the building, factoring in variables such as the project's climate zone, square footage, number of stories, Heating and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems, and building envelope characteristics (e.g., windows, wall thickness, insulation, roofing). Additionally, they encompass various other specifications related to the building's energy efficiency attributes.

The CF-1R, officially titled CF-1R-PRF-01E, is the Title-24 report outlining a building's energy efficiency expectations. Serving as the design document, it is crafted by an energy consultant through the energy modeling process within specialized software. To validate its authenticity, a CF-1R must be registered with the HERS provider, bearing the provider's logo watermark, a unique registration number, file name, and registration timestamp.

On the other hand, the CF-2R is the Installation Certificate, generated by the HERS registry upon the responsible installing contractor's submission of installation data for the relevant component (e.g., HVAC, Insulation, Water Heater). Contractors responsible for reporting installation data include plumbing, HVAC, insulation, window, and roofing contractors.

The CF-3R, the HERS Compliance Certificate, is exclusively generated through the HERS registry associated with the CF-1R registration and can only be produced by the HERS Rater. This certificate serves as the document relied upon by building officials for permitting purposes. All CF-3Rs bear the watermark of the HERS provider. Importantly, the CF-3R cannot be issued by the HERS Rater until all CF-2Rs are complete.

HERS Raters conduct a range of inspections and diagnostic tests for both new and existing homes and buildings. Our assessments include examining HVAC ducts to verify proper sealing by installers, ensuring no air leakage into unconditioned spaces occurs. We also scrutinize insulation installation for quality, guaranteeing optimal performance. Diagnostic tests for HVAC systems cover air flow, electrical usage, and refrigerant levels in AC systems to ensure correct installation. Additionally, we evaluate Indoor Air Quality Ventilation systems to ensure homes maintain healthy ventilation. Specially trained in assessing energy efficiency, HERS Raters thoroughly test all energy-related features of a home.

In essence, this verification occurs during the pre-drywall stage of construction to ensure proper air sealing and correct installation of insulation. Insulation serves to slow down heat transfer and is quantified by its R-Value (e.g., R-19), where a higher number indicates better insulation performance. However, insulation will only function to its rated R-Value if installed correctly. Proper installation entails avoiding compression and ensuring 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, as detailed in the HERS Feature summary on page 3, indicates a Quality Insulation Verification, it is crucial to communicate this requirement to your insulation installer. Additionally, it is imperative to have the HERS Rater verify the insulation before covering it with drywall.

A duct test, performed by the HERS Rater, is a diagnostic evaluation aimed at measuring the extent of duct air leakage. This assessment utilizes a specialized tool known as the Duct Blaster System, comprising a fan connected to a manometer gauge. During the test, the HERS Rater temporarily seals the air vent grilles (wall registers) with a plastic adhesive and attaches the fan to the return air grille. Working in tandem with a computer, the fan pressurizes the duct system, allowing the computer to quantify the extent of air leakage. Typically, duct air leakage occurs at connection points, such as those to the wall registers, equipment, and branches. Before conducting the duct leakage test, one prerequisite mandated by the HERS Rater is sealing the wall registers (sheet metal cans hidden behind the grilles) to the drywall (or floor for floor registers). This sealing process, known as the "can to drywall" seal, can be achieved using construction silicone, caulk, or polyisobutylene foil-backed tape.

An indoor air quality (IAQ) test, conducted by the HERS Rater, involves measuring the airflow generated by the IAQ fan. The California Energy Commission (CEC) mandates the installation of a fresh air ventilation system in all new homes, with the airflow requirement determined by the ASHRAE 62.2 standard. There are two main types of ventilation systems: balanced and unbalanced. In a balanced system, two separate fans are utilized—one for pulling fresh, filtered air into the home, and the other for exhausting air out. Conversely, an unbalanced system employs a single fan that solely exhausts air from the home. The most common setup encountered is the unbalanced system, where the exhaust fan (typically located in a bathroom or laundry room) operates continuously. Using instruments like a balometer or flow hood, the HERS Rater measures the fan(s). The IAQ section of your CF-1R-PRF-01E report outlines the required CFM (cubic feet per minute) for the fan(s). It is advisable to install a fan with a higher CFM rating than specified on the CF-1R for optimal performance.

If your CF-1R-PRF-01E indicates a kitchen range hood verification requirement on page 3 of the HERS Feature Summary, it's imperative to ensure that the kitchen range hood being installed is certified by either the Home Ventilating Institute (HVI) and listed in their directory, or by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM).

If your CF-1R-PRF-01E, found on page 3 in the HERS Feature Summary, indicates a requirement for Fan Efficacy Watts/CFM, a HERS Rater will need to assess the Watt draw of the HVAC system fan at high speed (typically during cooling). The Watt draw is documented, followed by measuring and recording the airflow of the system in CFM. By performing a simple calculation (dividing Watts by CFM), we can determine the amount of Watts each CFM is consuming. The California Energy Commission (CEC) has set a standard specifying that the Watt draw must not exceed 0.45 Watts per CFM.

If your CF-1R-PRF-01E, located on page 3 in the HERS Feature Summary, indicates a Verified Heat Pump Rated Heat Capacity requirement, the HERS Rater will confirm the make and model number of the installed equipment. Using the Air Conditioning, Heating, & Refrigerant Institute (AHRI) Directory, the HERS Rater will then ensure that the rated heat capacity of the installed equipment meets or surpasses the specifications outlined in the CF-1R document.

If your CF-1R-PRF-01E, listed on page 3 within the HERS Feature Summary, indicates a Reduced Building Infiltration test, the HERS Rater will utilize a testing device known as a "Blower Door" to assess the air leakage of the home. In typical home construction, air naturally seeps through gaps and cracks in the wall system, around windows and doors, and penetrations in the walls and ceilings. Excessive leakage leads to the loss of conditioned air, resulting in comfort issues and elevated energy bills. The Title-24 report establishes a threshold for permissible envelope air leakage. The blower door measurement quantifies the leakage in Air Changes per Hour (ACH).

If your CF-1R-PRF-01E, featured on page 3 in the HERS Feature Summary, notes a Verified Refrigerant Charge Measurement requirement, the HERS Rater will ensure that the air conditioning system contains the correct amount of refrigerant. This assessment is conducted at the outdoor condenser unit of the air conditioning system, which comprises both indoor (coil) and outdoor (condenser) components. Using a set of gauges and a thermometer, the HERS Rater measures the refrigerant charge. Manufacturers specify the desired subcool temperature in degrees Fahrenheit. To pass the Refrigerant Charge Measurement (RCM) test, the actual subcool temperature must fall within a range of +/- 2°F of the manufacturer's target.

In the unfortunate event that your home was drywalled without undergoing verification by the HERS Rater to ensure insulation installation aligns with Quality Insulation Installation (QII) standards, it will be necessary to recalculate the Title-24 without considering this HERS measure. If this situation applies to you, please reach out to us, and we can provide potential solutions.

If the HERS Rater identifies a failure in one of the diagnostic performance measurements, such as the duct leakage test, they can collaborate with your HVAC contractor to provide recommendations for improving duct system sealing. This same approach applies to other tests, including the Refrigerant Charge Measurement, Fan Watt Draw Test, Reduced Building Infiltration Test, and Airflow Test. However, if the installed equipment falls short of the efficiency expectations outlined in the Title-24 report, or if the Quality Installed Insulation verification was overlooked, the energy consultant must recalculate the Title-24 using the actual efficiencies or remove the QII credit and recalibrate the report accordingly.

The duration of HERS Testing depends on the extent of testing specified in the CF-1R-PRF-01 on page 3 within the HERS feature summary.

For a home with a single HVAC system, undergoing Duct Leakage testing, Fan Watt Draw measurement, Airflow verification, IAQ assessment, and Refrigerant Charge Testing, the HERS Rater typically completes all testing within a span of 3 hours.

We strive to provide HERS documents within 1-2 days following the field inspection. However, certain prerequisites must be fulfilled before we can input the field data to generate the CF-3R. For new construction projects, additions, and alterations requiring a Title-24 report, we require the export file from the Title-24 consultant to electronically share the project with the responsible installers. Only after the installers complete their inputs to the HERS registry can we, as HERS Raters, input our field testing results and generate the CF-3Rs.

To expedite this process, you can assist by ensuring timely communication of time-sensitive response requests to your Title-24 documentation author and responsible contractors.

Additionally, some building officials may require completion of all CF-2R installation certificates by other responsible trades, including plumbing for hot water heaters, insulation (even without a Quality Installed Insulation requirement), windows, roof, and HVAC.

Please be assured that we are diligently working to streamline this process for you, our client, and are committed to guiding you and your project to completion.

Your Title-24 report is typically included in your permitted set of blueprints (drawings). Blueprint sets may vary in organization across different design consultants. We suggest starting by checking the index on the plan set, which outlines where each respective section can be found in the plans. If not detailed in the index, you can look through the pages preceding the architectural section (A.00 Sheets). If not found there, check towards the end of the mechanical section (M.00 Sheets). If you still cannot locate it, check towards the very last pages of the drawings. If all else fails, you can contact your designer and inquire about where to find a copy of the Title-24 energy calculations.

Once you've located your Title-24 report, navigate towards the end pages and locate a section with bold print labeled "Documentation Author." Typically, you'll find a name and a phone number listed for the individual who prepared the report. We require the contact information of the documentation author to request the transfer of the HERS registration file to us, enabling us to upload it to the HERS provider, CalCERTS.

The specific file we need from the Title-24 author is called the "XML" file, which is essential for uploading to CalCERTS.

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

Being proactive is commendable. To prepare for the HERS test, ensure you have your HVAC installer's information readily available when scheduling with us. We'll handle the task of communicating with the installer to ensure they've installed the system to meet HERS requirements, which includes inquiring about:

- Properly sealed ducts.
- Whether the "boots" are sealed to the drywall.
- If it's a pedestal system, whether the pedestal is properly lined.
- Whether the refrigerant charge was done according to the manufacturer's subcool temperature listed on the nomenclature.
- If the system is set for high speed in cooling mode.
- If they would like a representative present during the HERS test to address any potential failures in real time, thus avoiding additional site visits and extra costs.

The straightforward response is 'No.' HERS Raters act solely as third-party inspectors and bear no responsibility for the work of the installers. In the event of system failure, it is the installer or homeowner who must make the necessary corrections.

To set up your user account with CalCERTS, visit the CalCERTS website and click on the "Register" button located in the upper right-hand corner of the home page. The process is straightforward. Please remember to make a note of your username and password.

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