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Freedom Pet Pass Cat Door Featured in Passive House

Earlier this month, the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA) gave a tour of a new Passive House built in Wayland, MA. The house is using many cutting-edge technologies to reduce energy consumption – including Freedom Pet Pass dog and cat doors.

The home – which is 4,400 square feet – is built to minimize heating and cooling, so all aspects of the building envelope must be both well-insulated and airtight. Our doors were up to the task and proved to be one of the more popular features amongst the tour participants. The final house (including the pet doors) is so energy-efficient that it can be heated with the equivalent of a single burner on a stove!

We’re proud that we can help environmentally-conscious architects, builders, and homeowners design and build with both their pets and the planet in mind.

To read more on the Wayland Passive House project:

Roughed-in Freedom Pet Pass cat door - courtesy Green Energy Times

Roughed-in Freedom Pet Pass cat door – Courtesy Green Energy Times

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Air Leakage and U-Factor Test Results

A fun first post…

This is a pretty exciting post for me. I have recently joined Freedom Pet Pass as its COO, and in my first blog post I get to show the world our actual energy efficiency test results. As described in a previous post by Brian, our founder and the inventor of DoubleMag™ Technology for pet doors, the testing was performed at the same laboratory that performs tests for Energy Star windows and doors. They tested the same critical parameters (air infiltration and U-factor) that are required for Energy Star certified windows and doors, using the same testing protocols.

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The results…

So the results are in. I think the easiest way to look at them is to compare them to something familiar, like an Energy Star door. Remember, for both U-value and air infiltration, lower numbers are better.

 

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*The U-factor value of 0.30 is comparing the Energy Star door to the same door with a Freedom Pet Pass pet door in it. The lab-determined “adder” for a Freedom Pet Pass door is 0.03, so the total U-factor for the combination is 0.27 + 0.03 = 0.30. A standalone pet door has a rating of 0.61.

So what does this all mean?

The air infiltration number shows how many cubic feet of outside air will enter through the product per square foot of wall space that the product occupies when under a specific negative pressure. Freedom Pet Pass pet doors all occupy 1-2 square feet of wall space. Compare that to 20 square feet of wall space that a normal door occupies. If you do the math, that means the Energy Star human door leaks 120 cubic feet of air every hour under the harsh test conditions (0.1 cfm/ft2 x 20 ft2 x 60 min). Under those same harsh test conditions, the largest Freedom Pet Pass door only leaks 3.6 cubic feet per hour (0.03 cfm/ft2 x 2 ft2 x 60 min)!

The U-factor value shows the rate at which a window or door conducts heat. It is the inverse of the R-factor used for insulation, so a smaller number is better. The units for U-factor are how many British thermal units (Btu) the product will conduct per hour for every square foot of wall space that the product occupies at a certain difference between inside and outside temperatures. It also assumes a certain wind speed, as that affects heat conductance rate. The standard temperature difference is 70.2°F (inside temp of 69.8°F, outside temp of -0.4°F). If you do the math, you’ll see that the Energy Star human door loses 379 Btu of energy every hour (0.27 Btu/(hr·ft2·°F) x 1 hr x 20 ft2 x 70.2°F). Compare that to the Freedom Pet Pass door, which only loses 85.6 Btu of energy per hour (0.61 Btu/(hr·ft2·°F) x 1 hr x 2 ft2 x 70.2°F).

To sum up a lot of complicated testing and math in one oversimplified sentence, these numbers basically mean that a Freedom Pet Pass dog door or cat door has similar energy efficiency performance to Energy Star rated windows and doors. We’ve put our products through this rigorous testing to prove to you that you can install a Freedom Pet Pass dog door or cat door without sacrificing the comfort or energy efficiency of your house. We hope that you’ll find that useful.

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Energy Efficiency Testing

Real, Meaningful Testing

If you’ve seen our marketing material or read this blog, you’ll know that we’re committed to objective testing to show just how energy-efficient our pet doors are. We know that energy efficiency is important to our customers, whether it’s to meet rigorous certification requirements (like those for the Passive House) or whether it’s just eliminating drafts and saving money on heating and cooling bills.

This commitment to testing has led us to partner with Architectural Testing, Inc. (ATI) –  a leader in third-party testing for building materials – to do some first-of-its-kind testing on the energy efficiency of pet doors. This past March, ATI conducted testing to determine the air leakage of Freedom Pet Pass doors and their U-factor.  I was able to observe the testing while it was being performed, and I thought it would be interesting to share some of my pictures and impressions.

We’ll share the results of this testing in a future blog post. Stay tuned!

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This thermal lab has two test walls. They are about four feet apart from each other. Our pet door is about ¾ of the way down on the left hand side. The walls are designed for fenestration products that are really big like garage doors and extremely accurate for different types of tests. See the inside view of the test walls or Curtain Wall area in the picture to the left.

On a side note, the facility itself was quite impressive, clean, and very busy. Behind the building I was in, there was a large coliseum type structure where many different fenestration tests could be performed on whole houses or sections of skyscrapers. After testing, samples of the product(s) tested are stored for four years for future reference. In our case the whole pet door is boxed up.

This is the same laboratory where manufacturers of windows, doors, and other fenstration products have their testing performed.  Because of this, architects and state building code authorities can use the data generated to determine the energy efficiency our pet doors with confidence. Energy savings can be scientifically calculated like all other window and door products.

We’re excited to share the full results with everyone! Hopefully it will be soon.

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Energy Efficiency Standards & Testing for Pet Doors

The problem…

Eight years ago, when I started building pet doors, my goal was nothing short of changing the industry. I knew that I was building pet doors that were far more energy efficient than any others available, and I wanted to prove it with industry standard testing. Unfortunately, that standard of testing didn’t exist.

The NFRC

I found out about the National Fenestration Ratings Commission (NFRC) pretty early in my research.  The NFRC was formed several years before that, in part because of over-zealous claims of energy efficiency made by window, door, and other product manufacturers that make accessories that attach to the envelope of homes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fenestration). I thought pet doors would fit nicely into their mission.

When I inquired about getting my product rated by the NFRC, they were busy with other products and couldn’t work on pet doors. So I poked around in the Department of Energy (www.energy.gov) as to any pet door requirements as fenestration products for residential homes.  I learned that pet doors were not specifically addressed in codes, as they are not a universal part of homes, nor are they included in plans or covered by code or inspection. Since then, I have been working toward getting independent, third-party standards recognized for pet doors.

Newest Developments

As they say, the longer you practice your craft the better you get.  In my case, I have also become better at networking over the last eight years. Last year I joined the NFRC (www.nfrc.org) as a full member and went to the fall meeting. With contacts made at the NFRC, we are working to develop a standard for wall mounted pet doors with the California Energy Commission Ca. Title 24 residential building code (www.energy.ca.gov/title24), since no such code existed.  A worldwide recognized thermal laboratory is working on developing a set of energy efficiency tests specific to pet doors. The aim of these tests will be to provide independent, third-party data for pet doors acceptable to Ca. Title 24, the first step in allowing pet doors to be designed architecturally into the walls of brand new homes that meet stringent California building code.

Thus far, Freedom Pet Pass is the only pet door company willing to pay to have its doors tested. The test results will be shared on our website as they become available.

Allowing architects to design a home with pets in mind, providing pet door locations suiting the needs of both pets and their owners makes perfect sense to me.  This should be designed up front, rather than as an afterthought attached somewhere to the envelope of the home.  My goal is to legitimize the pet door industry with official tests and standards.  Ca. Title 24 is a great place to start, and development of an NFRC Certification and Label is the ultimate goal.

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How FLIR Testing Dog Doors Proves Energy Efficiency

Some of the best selling pet dog doors waste more energy than you may think. A FLIR testing system can test your dog door’s energy efficiency and help you make an informed decision. An energy efficient pet dog door not only enhances your dog’s movements in and out of the house but also benefits you in more ways than one.
What Does a FLIR Testing System Do?

Let us see exactly how a FLIR testing system works and what it helps to check. FLIR thermal imaging cameras help to view and record the thermal distribution and variations in temperature in real time. This helps you check the heat patterns, leakage or dissipation and other temperature-related factors in products, equipment and processes. Simply stated he FLIR testing system is used to show exactly where energy waste occurs.

What we did was use this system to check the energy efficiency of the Freedom Pet Pass dog door. An energy efficient pet door should be able to block air leakage and help maintain the temperature within the home.

When you perform a thermal imaging test, you can not only detect but also visualize air infiltration and exfiltration. The visuals depict cold spots or areas from where the air may be leaking, in sharp bluish purple color tones. A dog door that has minimum cold spots is the most energy efficient door.

FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared Radiometer) uses infrared technology to identify missing insulation, loss of energy, radiant heating and inefficient HVAC systems. The FLIR infrared camera helps identify patterns of energy loss that may otherwise be invisible to the naked eye. The property and measurement data is compiled into a report and air leaks are easily identified.

How Did Freedom Pet Pass Fare on the FLIR Testing System?

We are proud to announce that Freedom Pet Pass passed with flying colors. And most of these colors were not even close to the bluish purple we were dreading! This energy efficient dog door proved to be the most energy efficient pet doors available today. Little wonder then that Freedom Pet Pass is the only pet door brand Energy Star Partners endorse.

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Cut Your Pet’s Carbon Paw Print with Energy Saving Pet Doors

According to the National Pet Owners Survey conducted in 2009-2010, 45.6 million households in the US owned dogs as pets. Approximately $1,500 are spent on dogs annually on vet visits, food, grooming needs, toys, kennel boarding and so on.1 The American Pet Products Association (APPA) lays stress on environment friendly pet products that do not degrade this earth in any adverse way. From natural food options to toys, accessories and energy saving pet doors, planet friendly pet products have become necessity of modern times. 2

Reduce Carbon Paw Print with Energy Saving Pet Doors

Installing innovative freedom pet pass pet doors for your pets is a great option for reducing the carbon paw print and making the environment greener. Some advantages of these energy saving doors are:

  1. These doors come with an air tight seal with thermal resistance. So, they will save you from major energy loss even when your dog frequently passes through the door. Moreover, these doors are available in three layer flap designs that make it easy for the dog to move in and out.
  2. These eco-friendly doors are designed in several sizes for safe and convenient use by dogs of different sizes and breeds.
  3. You no longer need to get up in the middle of night to let your dog out to do their business.
  4. With these automatic doors, you can put an end to the entrance of those uninvited annoying bugs and insects.
  5. These eco-friendly doors are designed using non toxic material, so they promise a safe and green environment.
  6. Their design has no sharp corners, protruding pins or hinges that can harm your pet.

All these features have contributed to the growing popularity of these energy saving pet doors. These doors allow for comfort, convenience, security and maximum home energy efficiency. What’s more, you can get an energy saving pet door that complements your home décor. 3

References:
1.    http://www.americanpetproducts.org/press_industrytrends.asp
2.    http://www.americanpetproducts.org/press_industrytrends.asp
3.    http://ezinearticles.com/?The-Freedom-Pass-Energy-Efficient-Eco-friendly-Draft-Free-Doggie-Door&id=4529664

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Can a Dog Door Really be Green?

Can a dog door really be green? The answer is yes. A new generation of energy efficient dog doors or green dog doors are designed to seal airtight and reduce the carbon paw print. Earth Advantage Institute performed a blower door test on the Freedom Pet Pass dog door for a Passive Home project in Oregon and the new green dog door exceed air tightness requirements set forth by Passive Homes by a factor of 3.

Who is Earth Advantage Institute?

Earth Advantage Institute is a non-profit that  implements sustainable building practices. A team of dedicated industry professionals specialize in implementing a practical and cost-effective path to sustainability and reduction of carbon in the built environment. Earth Advantage Institute is quickly becoming a leader in the field of sustainable building and climate solutions. Visit their website to learn more about their mission and how your home or business can benefit from building green. www.earthadvantage.org.

What is a blower door testing as it relates to Passive Homes?

To test levels of air tightness and locate leaks in a home, a large calibrated fan called a blower door is used to evacuate air from the interior. This fan depressurizes the building down to -50 pascals, which is the equivalent of a 25 mph wind hitting the house from all directions at once. Under this pressure differential, any areas contributing to leakage can be found and remedied.

The resulting amount of leakage can be expressed many ways, but is usually seen in the form of “x” ach5o, which relates how many air changes per hour the house will experience under an induced pressure differential of 50 pascals. It is not uncommon for older homes to have numbers in excess of 10 ach50 (10 whole house air changes every hour at -50 pascals). New, well built homes often fall in the 3-5 ach50 range, and getting below 2 ach50 only takes place with true diligence to sealing details and components.

What were the blower door test results For the Freedom Pet Pass dog door? Courtesy of Blake Bilyeu from Bilyeu Homes Inc., energy efficient home builder.

The air tightness requirement for Passive House certification is 0.6 ach50., and requires a different method for interior volume calculation resulting in even stricter levels of tightness. This level is achievable only with an extremely well thought out and detailed shell.

Our Passive House project in Salem, OR, achieved a remarkable third party certified 0.2 ACH50 on it’s final blower door test, and this was with a Freedom Pet Pass 6×10 door-mounted pet door unit in place during testing.

Blower door test results for the 16th & Nebraska Passive House as tested by the Earth Advantage Institute

Interior volume based on Passive House Methodology: 13772 ft3
CFM at 50 pascal depressurization: 47 cfm50
Air changes per hour at 50 pascal depressurization: 0.2 ach50

Blake J. Bilyeu | SHP| CPHC |
Bilyeu Homes, Inc.
custom home design and construction

Can a dog door be green? A Freedom Pet Pass is. If you have an ordinary dog door installed, find out how much of a carbon paw print your dog is leaving by having it tested. Visit Earth Advantage Institute to learn more about sustainable building practices and products that will improve your homes performance.

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A high performance pet door?

Do we offer a high performance pet door? Well, our pet door exceeded the Passive House air-tightness test requirements by a factor of 3. You don’t have to take my word. Below is a story written by Blake J. Bilyeu |SHP|CPHC.

He is an Oregon State graduate who earned a degree in Environmental Science, and specializes in maximizing the performance of new homes and reducing their ecological footprint both during and after construction. Blake has recently completed his certification as a “Sustainable Homes Professional”. We did not know that we were sending a pet door that was going to be installed into a Passive Home when we packaged a shipped a door mount pet door to Oregon… Anyways, below is his story.

As custom green homebuilders in Oregon, quality, high performance components are critical to what we do. Early discussions with our most recent customers made two things very apparent: they wanted a new home built with extreme energy efficiency in mind—an incredibly low energy home built to the Passive House Standard (www.passivehouse.us), but one that also held a place for their dog Pippen and had his needs in mind as well. Our initial research turned up a few options, but only one that had actually been tested for air tightness—the Freedom Pet Pass pet door.

We decided to give it a shot, knowing that to meet the strict Passive House certification requirements we would have to reach extremely low levels of air infiltration on our blower door test. Initially we planned to do our own testing on just the pet door before committing ourselves and cutting a hole in the door to the backyard.

However, upon opening up the freshly shipped package, it became quite apparent that the quality of construction and tenacity of the air seal were both very, very high. We installed the pet door without hesitation, and suffice it to say, the pet door did not disappoint–we exceeded the Passive House air tightness requirements by a factor of three!

Now, while the homeowners appreciate the incredible comfort and efficiency of their new home, Pippen is happily enjoying his access to backyard freedom.

Blake J. Bilyeu | SHP| CPHC |
Bilyeu Homes, Inc.
custom home design and construction”

 

To learn more about Passive Homes in North America click here

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The First Pet Door Engineered for Home Performance

Pioneering a pet flap that seals airtight has made us the #1 energy efficient pet door brand in the world.  But, what also makes us unique, and in great measure has made us the #1, is the credibility we have earned in the arena of home performance and energy efficiency. Unlike our major competitors we are the first and only pet door Energy Star partners and home performance experts recommend for your home. These expert endorsements bypass the usual energy efficiency claims made by our competitors and thus ensure we offer the best energy efficient pet door you will find.

Air Leakage is the natural enemy to a pet door truly claiming to be energy efficient. Our philosophy is it takes an airtight pet flap to engineer an energy efficient pet door.

Trusted energy efficient product specialists including home performance experts, aerospace engineers, and Energy Star partners tested the sealing ability and thermal resistance our pet flap provides and determines precisely how energy efficient this pet door really is.

Freedom Pet Pass pet doors allow zero air infiltration and provide an R – Value better than many exterior windows and doors installed in residential homes. Passive House, the ones who build airtight; energy smart homes of the future have tested our pet doors and now recommend them to their clients. If this pet door is good enough for the leading home energy organization in the world you can trust it will be the last pet door you purchase for your special pet.

Passive homes have arrived in North America. Learn more here:Could It Revolutionize the Way We Build?

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5 ways it pays to install an insulated dog door that seals airtight

Heating and cooling accounts for 50-70% of the energy costs for the average home. Dog doors haven’t changed much over the years and an insulated dog door that seals airtight is long over due. Installing an insulated dog door is a simple way to save.

A dog door that is not insulated and leaking air will negatively affect the energy efficiency of your home. A leaky dog flap results in heat loss in the winter and heat entering your home in the summer. It pays off to install an insulated dog door and keeps paying off with better comfort and energy savings.

The top 5 reasons to install an insulated dog door include

  • Improved home comfort
  • Better energy efficiency
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • Lifetime of savings
  • Lower energy bills

Where do I find the most insulated dog door?

It is very important to find an insulated dog door to reap the benefits. One factor that is even more important than insulation is air sealing. Properly air sealing such cracks and openings in your home can significantly reduce heating and cooling costs, improve building durability, and create a healthier indoor environment. Read more about what the Department of Energy has to say about air sealing

Freedom Pet Pass pioneered the first dog flap that seals airtight using patent-pending air sealing technology for an airtight seal. The thermal pet flap is made entirely of thermal materials that reduce the flow of heat transfer. The stable thermal performance of these insulated materials can result in significantly lower heating and cooling costs – savings that really add up over the life of the dog door.

The first dog door to independently test its performance gives you peace of mind.

An independent Energy Star home sealing engineer performed an air leakage and thermal imaging test on the Freedom Pet Pass pet door. Their pet flaps do not have any detectable air leakage while performing the air leakage test, and the multi-layer of SBR rubber and two layers of marine grade canvas come in with a total R-value of approximately of 0.35.  R-value is an indication of how well a material insulates. Click here for complete test results performed by an independent Energy Star home sealing engineer

Freedom Pet Pass energy efficient dog doors have earned endorsements from energy experts.

Energy Star partners including, but not limited to, Energy Federation Incorporated, Battic Door, and Building Performance by Design recommend installing the Freedom Pet Pass brand pet door into your home. Recently this line of energy efficient dog doors qualified as a recommended home sealing product for the innovative passive homes that are very popular Europe and beginning to pop up here in the States. Passive homes are smarter homes that can reduce energy consumption upwards of 90%.

Passive House Arrives in North America: Could It Revolutionize the Way We Build?

A dog door that is insulated in combination with air sealing prevents air leakage into and out of the house. Pay attention to the little things and the big things will follow. A dog door may seem small in term of application; however, a leaky dog flap can have a severe impact on the energy efficiency of your home leaving you with big problems to solve. Learn more about Freedom Pet Pass insulated dog doors. See for yourself why Freedom Pet Pass is the leading energy efficient dog door.