The Baseline Home
Our Baseline Home is typical of existing homes in the Inland Northwest (Pacific Northwest east of the Cascade Mountain Range). Because the Baseline and Experimental Homes were designed and built to be identical to each other, any differences in the energy and water use are a result of the technologies being tested. The Baseline home serves as a control for the Experimental home so that researchers can understand the incremental changes in energy use, indoor air temperature, relative humidity, and other changes that may result from implementing a new technology.
Before any experiments begin, the Baseline home and the Experimental home are "null tested." Tests are conducted on every feature of the homes, including air leakage testing, duct leakage testing, and an IR (infrared) camera assessment of insulation performance, and the homes are "base-lined," i.e., the data streams are compared to ensure they are identical. The data from the Baseline is graphed with respect to the Experimental home. The closer the data lines are to 45 degrees, the better the agreement.
We continuously monitor the home's appliances and systems for energy and water use, environmental conditions, and indoor environmental quality during experiments because it serves as the baseline as energy-efficient technologies are tested in the neighboring Experimental Home.