Important Terminology You'll Hear in Our 1-Hour Energy Assessment

Important Terms You May Hear Your Empower Home Energy Coach Use in Your Assessment

Empower’s Home Energy Coaches represent the front line to our business. These are the people who will consult with you about your home’s energy use. And these are the ones who perform the free energy assessment to see if your home could benefit from the Empower Home Energy Tune-Up. Our Home Energy Coaches are highly experienced in building science, and take a genuine, professional interest in educating you about energy efficiency and why your home consumes energy in particular ways.
But sometimes, the excitement and focus on educating you, the homeowner, causes us to use terminology that doesn’t make sense to you. So to help with this, here are some common terms our Home Energy Coaches may use when describing what they are seeing in your home during your free assessment.

 Knee Walls

You’ll sometimes here our people refer to the knee walls in your attic – “The knee walls don’t have any insulation in them” – for example. The knee walls are the shorter walls that are in your attic area (or highest floor) that support the rafters in roof construction.

Knob & Tube

“We’ll have to take care of the homeowner’s knob and tube electrical system before laying insulation.” Knob and tube was a prevalent way home builders fed electricity through the home up until the 1930s. It isn’t used often in the United States at all, and in fact, there are only special circumstances where this type of electrical infrastructure is approved for building construction. Knob and tube is designed to let heat dissipate to the surrounding air. As a result, energy efficiency upgrades that involve insulating previously uninsulated walls usually also require replacement of the wiring in affected homes. Our Home Energy Coaches easily recognize this in your attic space, and can make sure your home is brought up to electrical code before adding insulation.

Rim Joist

In the framing of a deck or building, a rim joist is the final joist that caps the end of the row of joists that support a floor or ceiling. A rim joist makes up the end of the box that comprises the floor system.


Baffles provide a channel for air to flow through certain parts of the attic. Baffles are also called wind baffles, venting chutes, rafter vents or insulation baffles.


Soffit is the material connecting the roof overhang and the side of your home.
The word “soffit” is derived from the French language, and literally means “something fixed underneath.”  It’s most commonly used around the main roof, but can also be under porches, arches or columns, or flight of stairs. In terms of how air flows through your home, the soffit area typically has vents to allow moisture and air to move productively.

Gable Vent

A gable vent is typically found on the end of a house, over the garage. A gable is the portion of a house that comes to a peak. Many homes will have multiple gables and some have multiple gable vents. Take a look at the front or back of your home, and you’ll typically see an aesthetically pleasing vent at the top of your home.


Eaves are the horizontal section of a roof that extends beyond the outside wall of a structure. Your soffit is under that overhang area.