SustainMax, LLC provides full service, one-stop-shop home performance contracting to help you maximize your home's sustainability.
State of Minnesota Residential Building Contractor License # BC638873
Our Home Performance Contracting Services Include:
- Performance Testing / Consulting / Work scopes
- "Whole house" improvements
• House doctoring
• Windows and doors
• HVAC performance and retrofit
• Ducts and sealing
• Drainage plane
- Roof Ice and Roof Snow Removal
- Energy Efficient Landscapes
- Solar and Geothermal Technologies
Whether SustainMax, LLC manages the whole project and streamlines the home improvement process or we consult with your contractor, your home performance problems identified during the home assessment can be readily corrected.
Contact Us for home performance contracting services.
SustainMax, LLC Home Performance Contracting
SustainMax, LLC is an experienced provider of whole-house energy services delivering not only utility savings, but a more energy-efficient, comfortable and healthier home for you and your family. Our residential service includes looking at everything from lighting to insulation, from the boiler in your basement to the air sealing in your attic, to solve everything from moisture problems to energy waste and beyond. The goal of SustainMax, LLC's Home Performance contracting is to fix poor performance in our existing homes by maximizing energy efficiency and building durability, ensuring the healthiest possible indoor air quality, and to ensure that all of the home's various components are interactively functioning as they were designed to do. The result is a home that is healthier, more durable, more comfortable, more energy efficient and better for the environment and future generations.
SustainMax, LLC's Home Performance Contracting uses a comprehensive "house as a system" approach to identify opportunities to improve the energy efficiency and comfort in your home or business. We start with a complete battery of diagnostic tests and a careful analysis of the home's energy efficiency, comfort, and indoor environment to establish your home's benchmark. Then we apply the performance upgrades that make most sense. After the work is done, we test the house again to make sure that the measures we have installed are going to perform the way we intended and that we're leaving the home in a safe condition.
The first step is completing an assessment and after compiling the data, your SustainMax, LLC consultant meets with you to discuss the results. During the assessment review, we provide you with a plan to correct the deficiencies identified. SustainMax, LLC will provide you with a detailed scope of work and offer suggestions to create a plan of action. Our goal is to work with you to deliver a quality installation that will lower utility bills, improve safety, health and comfort through cost-effective improvements. Your peace of mind is important to us.
Common House Problems:
Some of the common problems that can be difficult to identify include:
- Air leakage - uncomfortable rooms, high energy costs
- Moisture and mold problems - building durability, health issues
- Roof failures - ice dams, moisture damage and possible mold growth
- Inadequate insulation levels - uncomfortable rooms, ice damming and freezing pipes
- Duct leakage and pressure - uneven heating or cooling and reduced equipment efficiency
- Improperly vented appliances - dangerous combustion gas in the home
- Heating and air conditioning systems - safety, efficiency and ductwork
- Ventilation - moisture on windows
- Pressure imbalance - hot and cold rooms, combustion safety
- Drainage and storm water management - wet basements
Diagnostic Services and Treatment
To provide a full home performance contracting service, SustainMax, LLC consultants are trained in the latest high-performance building practices. Our BPI certified consultants offer the following diagnostic services and treatments:
- Reviewing occupant problems and concerns
- A safety and efficiency check of the heating, cooling and hot water equipment including testing for carbon monoxide and backdrafting of combustion appliances
- Testing of building air leakage rates using a "blower door"
- Identifying air and duct leakage sites and connections between building components using a digital manometer and infrared thermal camera
- Verifying existing insulation levels
- Insulating and air sealing the building envelope
- Testing of duct leakage rates and how the duct system interacts with the building
- Sealing duct leaks and balancing distribution system
- Testing of humidity levels
- Identifying moisture sources and damage
- Fixing leaks and flaws in building envelope
- Providing proper drainage for the foundation
A qualified SustainMax, LLC Home Performance consultant conducts a comprehensive assessment to identify opportunities to improve the energy efficiency and comfort of the home. After completing the home assessment, our SustainMax, LLC home performance consultant discusses the results with the homeowner and provides a scope of work detailing recommended cost effective improvements. If the homeowner agrees to the scope of work, SustainMax, LLC works alone or with other subcontractors to complete the specified home improvements. After the work is completed, a SustainMax, LLC home performance consultant conducts a second assessment to ensure that the improvements were installed according to best practice standards and the home's performance has actually been improved.
Tools Used to Verify Our Work
SustainMax, LLC consultants have well trained eyes to detect many issues in a home by sight alone. In addition, we use special performance testing equipment to diagnose and then to confirm our improvement measures were effective at the completion of the project.
- blower doors to test for air leaks in the building envelope
- infrared thermal scanner
- chemical smoke pencil
- combustion safety testing equipment
- duct leakage tester
- moisture detector
- pressure meter (manometer)
- draft flow hood
Air sealing and Insulation - The Most Important Improvement You Can Make!
Proper insulation and air sealing saves you money upfront and will reduce your utility bills for years to come. Our comprehensive energy assessment scientifically determines how much air leakage exists in your home and the current insulation levels and quality.
By doing this first, you'll be able to purchase smaller equipment when replacing your heating and air systems.
Massive air leaks in the attic and insufficient attic and wall insulation is typically the primary reason a home is uncomfortable and has high heating and cooling costs.
To find these penetrations, we use blower doors and infrared cameras. These tools are highly effective at detecting hidden air movement and thermal deficiencies.
To permanently fix issues, SustainMax, LLC will seal all penetrations that exist in the attic using foam boards, spray foams, house wrap, and other sealants to ensure the warm and cold air you are paying for stays out of the attic.
Insulation Works Best With Proper Sealing
Insulation works best when air is not moving through or around it, so it is very important to seal air leaks to ensure that the best results are attained. According to the Department of Energy, proper air sealing and insulation can reduce your home's heating and cooling costs by as much as 30 percent! Simply adding insulation without air sealing first will only give you marginal improvement results. With proper air sealing and the right amount of insulation correctly installed, we can deliver dramatically improved comfort and lower energy bills during the hottest and coldest times of the year.
Sidewall Insulation - In Many Homes There's No Insulation In The Walls!
Prior to energy codes, builders rarely put insulation in the walls. When they did, the insulation was partially filled resulting in comfort issues, higher utility bills, and more intrusive outside noise.
Typically, we fill the wall cavities with insulation from the outside of the home. Small pieces of siding are removed, holes are drilled and then the wall cavities are dense-packed with cellulose or fiberglass insulation. This process can also be performed on stucco and other exterior materials.
When complete, the holes are plugged and the siding re-installed. The blown in cellulose compacts tightly around wires, plumbing, and other penetrations providing an airtight insulating blanket with a slightly elevated R-value approaching R-4 per inch. This process can also be performed from inside the home if desired.
All this is completed in a day or two.
Advantages of dense-packing your walls include:
- Dramatically reduce drafts in the winter
- Cooler rooms in the summer, particularly those facing west
- Quieter home - far less noise penetrates the walls
- Lower bills - your heating and cooling equipment will run less often
- In the event of a fire, cellulose insulation slows fire advancement
Ensure your insulation project is done correctly; Contact Us at SustainMax, LLC!
On average, homes lose about 20 percent of their heat through windows and doors. By replacing your home's windows and patio doors with new ENERGY STAR® or better models, you can save on heating and cooling costs, be more comfortable, reduce noise, protect your furniture and carpets from fading, and add curb appeal.
Replacing windows and doors can help control heat flow and reduce drafts. And not only do they help your home be more energy efficient, they also improve its appearance, resale value, and durability.
SustainMax, LLC installs windows and doors as part of our home performance improvement solution. We focus on quality installation to optimize comfort and energy savings. And we don't just replace your windows and doors, we also thoroughly air seal and insulate them to ensure you get the maximum benefit out of your new windows.
High Efficiency HVAC Equipment Maximizes Comfort & Savings
Upgrading to properly sized and installed high efficiency heating and cooling equipment is crucial to maximizing your home's sustainability.
The EPA and DOE confirm that as much as half of the energy used in your home goes to heating and cooling. So making smart decisions about your home's heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems can have a big effect on your utility bills - and your comfort.
Over-sized equipment operates in short run times or cycles, not allowing the unit to reach efficient operation. In addition, over-sized air-conditioners will not run long enough to remove humidity from the air. This can leave you feeling cool but not comfortable and can create moisture problems.
SustainMax, LLC can help you find the right heating and cooling equipment, and make sure the equipment is properly sized and installed so you get the performance, comfort, and efficiency you deserve.
Domestic Hot Water
Water heating is the second largest energy end use in homes, behind space heating and cooling.
Heating water accounts for approximately 15 percent of a home's energy use. High efficiency water heaters use 10 to 50 percent less energy than standard models, saving homeowners money on their utility bills. In many homes across the country, the most common type of water heater is the conventional storage tank water heater.
When replacing low efficiency gas storage tanks keep in mind that energy efficient water heaters will have a larger price tag, but will pay for themselves faster than inefficient models.
Currently, you can choose from several energy efficient water heating options:
- Tankless (On-Demand) Water Heaters
- Solar Water Heaters
- High Efficiency Gas Storage Water Heaters
- Indirect Water Heaters
- Geothermal Water Heating
SustainMax, LLC can help you find the proper water heating equipment for your needs, and make sure the equipment is properly sized and installed so you get the performance, comfort, and efficiency you deserve.
Proper Ventilation Improves the Quality of Your Life
Poor ventilation increases pollutant levels. Sources that emit gases or particles into the air are the primary cause of Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) problems in homes. Poor ventilation can increase levels of these pollutant levels by not directing them outside and by not bringing in enough "fresh" air to dilute indoor pollutants.
Indoor air pollutants can cause a variety of health problems including irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, asthma, and even eventually respiratory disease, cancer, and heart disease. The young, the elderly, and the chronically ill, especially those suffering from respiratory or cardiovascular disease, are most susceptible to the effects of poor IAQ.
Reducing or eliminating pollutant sources is generally the best and most effective way to improve your home's IAQ. Some sources, like paint cans and some cleaning products, can simply be removed. Others, like gas stoves and water heaters, need to be adjusted to decrease the amount of pollutants they emit into your home. Air-sealing, duct-sealing, and moisture control-all major components of the SustainMax, LLC home performance approach-also help keep pollutants out of your home.
Examining ventilation is another main element of SustainMax, LLC's home performance assessment. Adding or replacing bathroom or kitchen exhaust fans that remove contaminants and dump them outside is another way to improve IAQ. Ventilation, whether mechanical or natural, like opening your windows, brings in outdoor air and reduces the concentrations of indoor pollutants.
Installing the right air cleaners to remove pollutants from the air can be an important part of an overall IAQ strategy. We use advanced filtration and even UV technologies, depending on your needs. At SustainMax, LLC we use this strategy only after source control and ventilation improvements have been tried.
Heat Recovery Ventilators (HRV) and Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERV)
A heat recovery ventilator (HRV) can help make mechanical ventilation more cost effective by reclaiming energy from exhaust air flows. HRVs use heat exchangers to heat or cool incoming fresh air, recapturing 60 to 80 percent of the conditioned temperatures that would otherwise be lost.
Models that exchange moisture between the two air streams are referred to as Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERVs). ERVs are often recommended in hot climates where cooling loads place strong demands on HVAC systems. However, keep in mind that ERVs are not dehumidifiers. They transfer moisture from the humid air stream, which is the incoming outdoor air in the summer, to the exhaust air stream.
Another component of the home that is often overlooked is the ductwork that carries the warm and cool air from your heating and cooling equipment to the various rooms in your home. If you have a forced air furnace or central air conditioner, you'll have ductwork that carries the conditioned air your equipment creates to different rooms in the house. Most homes have leaky ductwork and insufficient air flow, which results in an uncomfortable living environment - regardless of the thermostat setting.
Ducts are typically sheet metal or "flexible", and if you have flexible ducts and they are over 10 to 15 years old, they need to be inspected and may need to be replaced. Older flexible ducts often have very poor insulation, may have asbestos as the insulation material, and can have holes and loose connections. Ductwork must be well-sealed, insulated, and balanced to ensure your home's heating and cooling systems work as efficiently as possible.
A duct system that is properly sealed can make your home more comfortable, energy efficient, and deliver cleaner air.
Replacing or making improvements to your duct system can:
Sealing and insulating ducts can help with common comfort problems, such as rooms that are too hot in the summer or too cold in the winter.
Enhance Indoor Air Quality
Sealing ducts can help improve indoor air quality by reducing the risk of pollutants entering ducts and circulating through your home.
Sealing leaks can reduce the risk of "back-drafting," where combustion gases are drawn back into the living space, rather than expelled to the outdoors.
Sealing and insulating ducts can increase heating and cooling system efficiency by as much as 20 percent. Plus, if you're planning to install new HVAC equipment, a well-designed and sealed duct system may allow you to downsize to a smaller, less costly system that will provide better dehumidification.
SustainMax, LLC technicians are experts in sealing your home's ducts to optimize air flow. They also insulate ductwork in attics and crawlspaces to provide maximum comfort.
Basements and Crawl Spaces - Are a Major Source of Heat Loss
Heat loss from uninsulated basements and crawl spaces may represent up to 50 percent of a home's total heat loss in a tightly sealed, well-insulated home.
The problem with basements is that they are in the ground and the earth is damp. With damp soil the water vapor moves upward into the house and if left exposed, leaves a continuous stream of water vapor creating musty smells (like mold and mildew odors), as well as cold floors.
Water can come from various sources like groundwater seeps, leaks and even may rush into many basements and crawlspaces. It enters under the footing, between the footing and the walls, and seeps right through block walls.
Contact Us for a SustainMax, LLC consultant to help you discover options to correct basement and crawl space issues and make your home more sustainable.
Benefits of Home Performance Retrofits
SustainMax home performance contracting can save up to 40% on your home energy usage. With federal and state tax incentives, home energy improvements are more affordable than ever.
No more avoiding the hot and cold spots of your home! Enjoy the comfort of your home by having consistent, desired temperatures in every room all year long.
Keep Your Home Healthy
Drafts and unwanted moisture in the home causes allergies, asthma and poor sleep habits. Proper moisture control and air sealing keeps dust and mold out of your home, and allows you to optimize your quality of life.
Increase Your Home's Resale Value
For every $1 decrease in annual energy costs, the market value of a home increases by $20, according to a study published in the Appraisal Journal. If you decrease your energy costs by $300 per year, the value of your home increases by $6,000. SustainMax, LLC certified professionals can verify measurable results of the improvements performed.
Improve Your Home's Marketability
With rising fuel costs, home buyers are seriously considering the house's operating expenses. Measures to lower utility bills are valuable home improvements that reap dividends month after month. A home buyer will also have confidence that the house has been optimally maintained when you show it was audited and retrofitted by SustainMax, LLC. You're more likely to make a faster sale for a higher price.
Uncover Hidden Problems
A home energy assessment involves a thorough inspection of your home, which can uncover hidden structural and safety problems before they cause major damage. For example, improper ventilation can cause mold or mildew growth, which you may not discover until it becomes severe and costly repairs are required. A SustainMax, LLC certified professional can prevent problems before they affect your health or damage your home.
Help the Environment
By using less energy, you reduce the amount of pollution and greenhouse gasses that are created in the production of electricity and the fuels we burn. You can feel good about the energy (and money) you're saving because you're doing your part for the environment.
Take Advantage of Government Incentives
Take advantage of government tax incentives and rebates by using a SustainMax, LLC certified professional. We can show you which cost-effective improvements make the most sense for your home. With the recommendations from your energy assessment report and tax incentive information, you can make the right decisions as to which measures will pay the biggest return on your investment - and have the government help you do it.
Invest in a Sure Money-Maker
Investing in your home's energy efficiency takes money. Fortunately, your return on investment is around 16% per year, after taking into account the money you spent on the improvements. As energy prices rise, so will your return on investment. It will likely be your most successful investment, without any risk.
Reduce your carbon footprint
A SustainMax, LLC retrofitted home uses less energy than the average home and therefore releases significantly less greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Do your part and retrofit your home with SustainMax, LLC.
Increase the resale value of your home
In today's real estate market, an energy efficient home is more attractive and more energy-affordable to potential home buyers. A home equipped with the latest energy-saving technology increases the resale value of your home.
Why Wait? Take the first step and Contact Us now!