What is the "whole home approach" and why does it matter?

December 10, 2015
Man with clipboard, and customer

Money-saving, clean energy upgrades are an appealing option for homeowners. For an energy upgrade project to be truly effective, it requires careful planning, strategy, and scrupulous attention to detail. While many contractors approach installs and upgrades as a one-and-done job, many of our partnering contractors take a holistic approach and look at the entire home, not just a single isolated aspect.

Your home as a system

In terms of energy efficiency, homes are considered to be "systems": buildings with multiple factors that are constantly interacting with one another. A home is an interconnected system of pieces including:

  • Mechanicals (heating and cooling systems)
  • Appliances
  • Climate
  • Occupants

Altering or upgrading one piece of the home has implications on other factors in the home. For example, if you get an air sealing or insulation upgrade, the performance of your mechanical systems will be positively affected, and occupant comfort will increase.

Finding cost effective, efficient energy solutions

Contractors taking the whole home approach will often start things off with an energy audit. This is a diagnostic test for the home that uncovers areas of inefficiency, things like leaky air ducts, inefficient heating systems, drafty windows, and similar issues. Using the holistic approach, a contractor will then suggest strategic energy upgrades that will fix the efficiency issues. An energy audit may indicate high air exchange around air ducts, for example. A potential solution could be duct sealing, a service that would lessen the unwanted air exchange in the ducts. The benefits of duct sealing go beyond fixing the air leaks: your HVAC systems don't have to work as hard to compensate for the air losses, home air quality is improved, and temperature imbalances are less noticeable. Your home's overall energy efficiency, not just the ductwork efficiency, is improved. If your contractor had not evaluated your home as a system, you may have assumed the issue was an underperforming HVAC unit. You may have decided to install a new furnace rather than fix the root of the problem, the duct sealing. The whole home approach has a number of benefits, including:

  • Reduced maintenance costs
  • Savings on energy bills
  • Energy conservation
  • Improved home comfort
  • A healthier, safer indoor environment

Top contractors

At CaliforniaFIRST, we partner with more than 900 top contractors from across the state, many of whom take the whole home approach when considering your energy upgrades, taking into consideration how your upgrade will affect the rest of your home. This approach allows you, the homeowner, to maximize the positive effects of your upgrade while mitigating any issues. We provide 100% upfront financing for your upgrades. Once your installation is complete, you begin repaying the cost of the upgrade on your property tax bill over a flexible payback period. The great features of our PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) program don't stop there. Be sure to take a look at our eligible products and projects to see what clean energy and water conservations we can help you finance! Ready to get started? Check your eligibility for our financing or get in touch to learn more about the whole home approach and how it can benefit you.