Sprung a leak, Choice Magazine27 July 2011
Jan Brandjes worked in some of the coldest climates on earth, including the Arctic, before coming to Australia to work in the building energy efficiency field. His company provides real-life testing of airflow issues that are typically calculated using energy efficiency software. This is designed to provide an accurate representation of whether builders have met the gap-sealing requirements that form part of energy efficiency compliance.
When Jan first came here, he was surprised at the lack of air-sealing in Australian homes. "I've tested hundreds of homes and found them to be consistently leaky. Because you lose most of your heating and cooling through air leakage, this has a strong effect on a building's energy efficiency." He also points out that it's about getting the right airflow balance, not about making homes too tight.
Jan says many of the problems can be fixed easily and for much less than adding other energy saving measures such as solar. "In many cases, exhaust fans in the bathroom and unsealed downlights are causing a lot of air leakage. This can be easily fixed." For a new home under construction, this cost can be as little as $300, or $1000-$1500 for existing homes. Jan also believes that energy rating software assumes that Aussie homes are built a lot tighter than they really are. However, he's quick to point out that the fault lies in a lack of education, and would like to see more industry training along with better consumer understanding.