Energy Conservation Expert Shares 3 Favorite Tools - Pro Construction Guide

Energy Conservation Expert Shares 3 Favorite Tools

Javier Saucedo, Energy Conservation Consultant, Ventura, California

Javier Saucedo, 54, became an energy conservation consultant in Southern California 15 years ago and has never looked back.

Among other things, he has worked as an energy coach for a county-operated program that provides homeowners free consultations on how to make their homes more comfortable and energy efficient. Typically, he provides a report of suggested improvements. Homeowners can use the report any way they want, but many hire Saucedo to do the work or certify that the contractor they do hire does it properly so they can qualify for rebates. Saucedo estimated that homeowners of single-family homes built between 1950 and 2010 make up 70 percent of his clientele.

While about half his prospects have postponed inspections due to COVID-19 in recent months, he has been able to conduct many assessments via FaceTime.

“I’ve done a couple thousand of these on-site over the years, so I know what I’m looking for,” he said. “During COVID-19, I’ve been able to find leaks in a water heater by performing a virtual assessment with a phone using FaceTime. Homeowners enjoy going along with it because they are learning about their home as I go.”

Regardless of what happens with COVID-19, Saucedo sees only more demand from homeowners disappointed with the low standard set by California residential energy code.

“When people start making net zero energy homes, that will be the home I can’t touch, which is my goal,” he said.

Below is a list of three tools Saucedo considers critical to fulfilling that mission.

RetroTec, Duct Tester, Model DM2

I’ve owned this tool for 10 years. We use it to pressurize HVAC systems when we want to know if ducts inside a system are actually leaking. It will tell us on a meter how much CFM, or what percentage of air, is leaking out through the different joints going all over the house. Title 24 (California Building Standards Codes) tells us that on an existing unit, you can have as much as 10 percent leakage and it will still pass. The new standard is 5 percent. New people who do this work want to see a little bit better than code, so we want to see for 1 percent or 2 percent or no leaks at all.

Fluke, Thermal Imager, Ti110

These thermal imagers are really handy when you’re trying to look for things you can’t see inside a home. Because of the technology we have nowadays, they actually have smaller ones that do a better job. I use this one to see if there is a good level of insulation behind the wall or in the attic.

I will point it at different areas in the house and take a photo, and it will show me what is going on behind the walls. You don’t have to start pulling dry wall down. It’s a little expensive, but if you are in this line of work — home performance — you are going to need one. I use it with a blower door to pressurize the whole house to check for exfiltration. It gives information on what’s inside walls, and I use it to measure air leakage and insulation levels. People are amazed at the amount of air leakage in their homes when I show them the currents of air with this imager.

RIDGID, Pro Pack Vacuum Cleaner, WD4522

I bought this about a year and a half ago to clean my workshop, and one of the main things I like about this vacuum cleaner is that everything fits inside the box, so you are not losing any parts. Everything fits in a handy unit. It’s really easy to carry. It’s got a really nice handle. The switches are pretty big, so even when you are wearing gloves you can use them. It’s got a lot of power and is a really handy tool. I’d like it even better if it had a longer cord and hose.

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