Welcome to
The CHERP Network:

Driving Energy Efficiency
and Economic Recovery

FAQs

FAQ's About Home Performance:

Frequently asked questions about home energy efficiency, residential energy consumption, and building science: 

Q: What is the economic significance of energy efficiency versus renewable energy?  
A: Renewable energy tends to get more attention than energy efficiency, largely because it's often more tangible. A solar panel on your roof is visible, and you know that it's working. Insulation in walls, however, often tends to be forgotten. In truth, however, energy efficiency is usually far more cost-effective than renewable energy, and should always be addressed first, before renewable installations are done, in order to ensure that you don't install more renewable energy than you need.

Q: What is home performance?
A: Home Performance is an approach to fixing buildings that addresses comfort, energy efficiency, durability, health and safety all at once. A home performance upgrade may consist of a combination of measures including insulation, air sealing, and more; and results in a home that is more affordable to operate, more comfortable throughout the year, more durable, and healthier and safer for your family.

Q: What are the benefits of retrofitting your home?
A: There are many benefits to retrofitting your home. These include improved comfort, reduced energy bills, improved indoor air quality, fewer moisture problems, and more.

Q: What is a whole-house energy assessment?
A: A home energy assessment is the first step in improving your home's energy efficiency. It typically involves a visual inspection, a blower door test, infrared thermal imaging, combustion safety testing, and a written report detailing where your home's problems lie and how they can be most effectively addressed.

Q: What is the importance of air sealing?
A: A huge source of energy waste in most North American homes is a lack of "air sealing." Basically, this means that cracks and gaps in the building envelope (primarily in the attic and basement) allow conditioned air to escape. Often, these cracks and gaps add up to the equivalent of leaving a medium sized window open year round. Air sealing, consequently, is the home energy upgrade that is often most effective at achieving drastic energy savings with relatively little cost.

Q: What if my home is new, and already has insulation? 
A: While most modern homes contain some amount of insulation, the majority are still poor energy performers. This is unfortunate, but it also means that even homeowners in new homes have an opportunity to vastly reduce their energy bills through properly installed insulation and other retrofit upgrades.

FAQ's About CHERP:

Q: What are the key elements of CHERP’s success?
A: CHERP attributes the local effort’s success to four key factors:

  • Education: Spreading awareness of the impacts that energy upgrades in buildings can have on an individual, community and global scale.
  • Collaboration: Bringing together a core group of people, and ultimately other organizations, who are dedicated to the cause.
  • Public/Private Partnerships:  Working cooperatively and deeply with top-notch, certified contractors that are committed to the building science of making a home radically more comfortable, healthy and energy efficient.
  • Superior Results:  Accomplishing deep energy retrofits -- far exceeding the average -- in order to demonstrate the physics and economics behind the entire EUC effort and to set a high bar for quality installation and performance results for the entire industry.

Q: What is the “Triple Bottom Line” series of CHERP benefits?
A: “CHERP’s mission and entire focus is retrofitting buildings – not just talking about it or about energy efficiency in general. The very act of retrofitting a building intrinsically produces a triple bottom line result – for both an individual building owner and the entire community. People are more comfortable (temperatures are regulated), healthier (less dust, insulation particulates and animal feces particles in the living space reducing respiratory illnesses) and safer (we discover many cases of unhealthful levels of carbon monoxide – the largest cause of death by poisoning in the U.S.) in their homes. Life on thePlanet is helped through a reduction in the use of fossil fuels with an attending reduction in greenhouse gasses and other heavy metals and carcinogenic by-products. Local homeowner and community Profits are increased by reducing the cost of energy now and into the future as energy costs continue to rise. This in turn gives a community (and state) more disposable income to spend locally. Local economies profit further by hiring local contractors to add real value to local real estate, increasing the local tax base at the same time as creating more local jobs. By retrofitting just 1% of the homes in California (as we have done in Claremont) we would create 24,000 jobs. The goal of the CPUC is to retrofit all 13 million homes to an average energy reduction of 40%!”

Q: Does CHERP focus only on Energy Efficiency?
A: “CHERP is the Trojan Horse for unpacking the entire sustainability discussion and community engagement. Energy Efficiency is at the heart of all global and local environmental discussions and once action is begun by an individual on energy efficiency, other major environmental issues can be addressed. For example, all buildings now “CHERPing” in Claremont have dramatically reduced their energy usage and are currently in the process of being Green Point Rated – a label that recent studies show can add as much as 9% to the value of home at time of sale. With Green Point Ratings, we are focusing on the entire sustainability picture including water, waste, building materials and indoor air quality.”

Q: Can you tell us more about CHERP as a “Demonstration Project”?
A: “At CHERP, we are focused on demonstration and education  – prove the initiative works, and then educate others in how to replicate our success in much less time! CHERP was designed from the beginning to be a replicable case study. The brand, website and processes are all created and delineated so other cities and organizations can save precious time and achieve immediate results.

Individual homeowners and whole neighborhoods are participating as “demonstration projects”. Many homeowners have and continue to offer their homes for “energy parties” and demonstration workshops to highlight the benefits and techniques of the retrofit work done on their homes.

At the neighborhood level, we have helped to create the Pilgrim Place Energy Efficiency Project to demonstrate how many individual retrofits can be executed at once to gain efficiencies in both project cost and construction time. The Pilgrim Place Energy Efficiency Project is our demonstration-project-within-a-demonstration-project. This entire community of 350 residents have committed to retrofitting their entire 32 acre campus and we are now beginning the process of holding state and national workshops to teach other retirement communities how to achieve the same success. CHERP gave Lectures and Workshops last year in Palm Springs for the state-wide Aging Services Conference and also in Denver for the Leading Age national conference for retirement communities.

As more work gets accomplished, more of the community is exposed to the benefits and retrofit techniques through our energy parties and our “in-progress” construction workshops. This is an ongoing, “evergreen” educational initiative. This year we are designing curriculum for the grade schools, the junior high and the high schools, working with the students, teachers and parents. CHERP also has developed an on-going internship program with the Claremont Colleges where engineering and environmental studies students help us collect technical retrofit data and communicate with the wider community.”