Title 24 is a portion of the California Code of Regulations that pertains to energy efficiency standards in the construction of residential and non-residential buildings. It was enacted in 1978 (Warren- Alquist Act) in response to a legislative mandate to reduce California’s energy consumption. The California Energy Commission (CEC)put this ruling into effect to reduce energy bills, to increase energy delivery system reliability and to contribute to an improved economic condition for the state. Since 1978, several amendments were made to update energy standards as a reflection of improvements in energy technology and energy conservation.
Effective October 1, 2005, the CEC updated Title 24 standards to further reduce California’s energy consumption. Starting on this date, when a CA homeowner is changing out the heating or air-conditioning (HVAC) equipment (the air handler, the outdoor condenser of a split air-conditioner or heat pump, cooling or heating coil, or the furnace heat exchanger) in an existing house, contractors in certain climate zones will be required to test the ducts for leakage and seal the leaking ducts. Third-party field verification by a certified home energy rater (HERS – Home Energy Rating Service) is also required to insure that the duct sealing is accomplished according to CEC standards.
The CEC has established 16 climate zones for the state – each climate zone is assigned an energy budget based on weather, energy consumption, population, number of homes and industry, etc… Duct leak testing is not required in the following specific situations: 1) if the property is located in climate zones 1, 3-8 (coastal areas); 2) when systems have less than 40 feet of ductwork in unconditioned spaces; and 3) when there is asbestos ductwork. The CEC has also provided an alernative to duct leak testing – by upgrading to minimum 14 SEER efficiency units and added ductwork insulation for those homeowners that do not want their ducts to be tested. To find out what climate zone a property may be located in, log on to: www.energy.ca.gov/maps/renewable/building_climate_zones.html.
The CA HERS program was enacted through Public Resources Code 25942. HERS raters can provide Title 24 diagnostic testing and field testing. HERS raters must be certified by a HERS provider, cannot have a financial interest in the installation of the HVAC equipment or the contracting company and cannot be employees of the HVAC company. The two HERS providers in California are CHEERS (California Home Energy Efficiency Rating Service) and CalCerts. To locate HERS providers in your area, log on to: www.cheers.org or www.calcerts.com.
The HERS rater must do the required field testing and verification. This can be done on each change-out of HVAC equipment or on a random sampling basis in which one out of seven duct systems are checked. A completed CF-4R form must be provided to the local building department before the home can be “finaled.” Contractors failing to obtain a required building permit and failing to test and repair duct leaks are violating the law and can expose the homeowner to additional costs and liability. Real estate law requires sellers to disclose to potential buyers if required permits were not obtained for the property. Additionally, if the seller agrees contractually to provide repairs, paragraph 10 of the CA RPA states that the sellers must obtain the required permits and other government required inspections.
The greatest electrical demand in a residential and non-residential building is from air-conditioning and heating systems. In a field research study by the CEC, over 30% of the homes tested have leaky ducts. Leaky ducts magnify energy costs, decreases air flow, increases indoor air pollution, and decreases efficiency of HVAC systems. Properly sealing duct systems, can help reduce wasteful electrical energy.