ARKANSAS ENERGY CODE
The current 2014 Arkansas Energy Code is the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (2009 IECC) with amendments. The consequences of the amendments include:
Increased heating and cooling costs of new home in 12 counties in NW Arkansas with ceiling insulation reduced, window efficiency reduced, and slab insulation eliminated.
Adding a "visual inspection option to the 2009 IECC mandatory duct leakage testing resulted in no ducts being tested across the state while ENTERGY’s conservation program reports duct leakage is averaging 44% of airflow in houses one year or older.
Threatening Federal mortgage (FHA) insurance. HUD requires new homes meet the 2009 IECC for FHA mortgage insurance. The U.S. DOE rates our 2014 Arkansas Energy Code 50% worse than the 2009 IECC in NW Arkansas. The FHA rule is in place. The only thing preventing this being a crisis is HUD is slow to enforcing it.
Some communities have said no. Fayetteville requires all new homes meet the 2009 IECC as written and requires energy rating all new homes with the HERS Index and the annual operating costs posted on the front door. Little Rock will start testing duct leakage on all new homes plus blower door testing new homes with foam insulated new homes likely to have inadequate ventilation starting Oct. 3, 2018.
Little Rock Energy Code Ordinance
All new homes permitted on, or after, October 3, 2018, in Little Rock will be required to be:
Duct leakage tested, and
Blower door tested if the house has foam insulation.
HERS, Inc. is your one stop shop for the required testing. Call 501-353-0605. HERS, Inc. will coordinate with your HVAC and insulation contractors to better ensure you will pass the testing. For best results, involve HERS, Inc. from the beginning.
When can ducts be tested? Testing for total duct leakage can be done at rough-in or at final. If tested at rough-in, only total duct leakage (TDL) can be tested. If tested at final, both TDL and duct leakage to the outside (LTO) can be tested. Ducts must pass TDL or LTO. There is a maximum duct leakage allowed. The maximum leakage allowed for either.
When are houses blower door tested? Testing the tightness of the house is done at near completion when the house is tight enough to pressurize. The 2009 International Energy Code (2009 IECC) sets a limit on how leaky a house can be. The Arkansas’ Mechanical Code sets a limit on how tight a house can be.
A house tighter than 0.35 natural air-changes-per-hour (nach) requires mechanical ventilation. HERS, Inc. can help Builders and HVAC contractors with ventilation strategies.
Why is the City requiring testing? Health and safety. We are building houses tighter and tighter with no provision for adequate ventilation. The result can be mold and moisture issues.
Can ventilation be added after the house is built? Yes, but it can be costly. Better to make the house “ventilation ready“ so ventilation can be easily added if warranted after testing. HERS, Inc. can show you how.
Who can do the testing? Blower door and duct leakage testing must be performed by a RESNET certified HERS Energy Rater, an Energy Rater Field Inspectors (RFI), or a Building Performance Institute (BPI) Building Analyst. Total duct leakage testing at rough-in can be performed by the HVAC contractor or an HVAC technician who passed a duct testing class offered by the Arkansas HVACR Association.
Search on line for an energy rater or just call Ron at HERS, Inc. at 501-353-0605.
Duct leakage has long been a problem in housing. Our utility conservation programs report average duct leakage in thousands of tested homes averages 44% of air flow in homes one year or older. Leakage wastes energy when supply leaks throw away air we have just paid to heat and cool. Return leaks in attics suck in hot attic air when we are trying to cool our homes and cold attic air when heating.
Why is leakage this bad? Duct testing is not taught in school. Very few HVAC contractors have the tools or training to test. The Arkansas energy code was amended to make makes duct testing optional in new houses. Since no one has to test, no one does.
Is duct leakage in new houses better? Maybe, but we don’t know. With the exception of Fayetteville which requires testing, and Little Rock which is about to, not a single duct has been tested for code compliance since our energy code went into effect almost four years ago. None.
Health and safety issue – Do you kids have asthma? Is your furnace, air handler or return ducts in the crawlspace? There is a correlation between asthma and return ducts in crawlspaces. Return ducts in crawlspaces can suck moldy crawlspace air into the house. Encapsulate your crawlspace airtight with a sealed vapor barrier on the ground and, chances are, the asthma will go away.
How leakage works – Return leaks pressurize the house which pushes conditioned air out of the house around light fixtures, receptacles and switches, leaky windows and unsealed penetrations in the building envelope. Supply leaks to the outside depressurize the house which sucks in replacement air from the outside. Air out = Air in
Note: Testing total duct leakage (TDL for code compliance at rough in can be done by an HVAC tech that has been certified by the Arkansas HVAC Association or certified by BPI or a RESNET Energy Rater. Testing duct leakage at final for total duct leakage or duct leakage to the outside requires an Energy Rater or BPI certification. Check on-line or call HERS, Inc. at 501-353-0605.