In several industry conversations over the past few months, there’s been debate about whether we should take a “staged” retrofit approach. I've got my thoughts
There is no doubt that an all-at-once approach allows the biggest results at a lower cost. It’s often most cost-effective to do several things at the same time, or in particular orders. Yes, reducing the load makes more sense before replacing the air-conditioner rather than after. And if we’re really thinking comprehensively, we get to “tunnel through the cost barrier” as Amory Lovins puts in, reducing the load enough to start dropping tonnage, eliminate sytems, and simplifying mechanical solutions, and avoiding some costs altogether.
But in today’s world a couple steps at a time is the way most homeowners will tackle efficiency improvements in their homes. And at the end of the day, homeowners decide.
What do you think?
In the fullness of time homeowners, representing the more well heeled, will go for all at once, rental property of all types will be staged.
I can't imagine that with the price of homes what it is in at least major markets, cash strapped folks will be owning homes, and only being able to afford phased work. I'd more suspect cash rich folks will be homeowners, and if you can afford it, it's not only cheaper, but faster / less disruptive to the owners life to do it all at once and , as some pointed out, homeowners just want to be comfy, businesses want the numbers to work out.
The flip side of this is already playing out with foreclosed homes being tarted up, pooled, and rented, but, real estate investoprs have rarely pursued energy efficency. Instead they typicaly pass the costs on to the tenants. Which ties into some other comments that having tenants pay utilities gives them economic incentive to use less energy - true to a point - but, insulation IS the primary driver of home energy use, followed by quality of equipment, both completely out of the control of renters.
However, that is slowwwwwwwwwwly changing. In England in some areas a tenant can initiate a energy conserving retrofit (with the owner consent), which is financed via gov't / utility partnership and paid back via small long term hike in utility rates, which stay in effect on that rental unit / building until the money is paid back). Bad for the owner in a flooded rental market, good in a tight rental market - like say NYC. So why isn't this a US program too, well, we had a plan and it was sued out of existence, which would make anyone very leary of wasting time and effort to start another.
The US plan that failed:
Direct gov't funded limited retrofits (those that immediately dropped energy bills sufficent to pay back a long term loan) paid back via a small long term RE tax hike. The real estate industry (banks in this case) sued and won, arguing even though the gov't had no additional rights to foreclose on properties for non payment of taxes - which they always have, the loan and payback scheme was the "same as a mortgage" and would muddy the water on foreclosures. The problem, the mortgage holders being stuck paying slightly higher RE taxes on their foreclosed property portfolios - even though the higer taxes would be offset by energy savings. Again, the real estate industry showing it's extreme distate for anything that increases up front costs.
The gov't stepping in and forcing real estate investors to build and maintain for the long term. Again in NYC, can you tell I'm in NYC, has been passing laws almost yearly with this goal, that buildings be designed or retrofitted for long term energy efficency, not short term profits and lowest capital costs.
So, decades down the road, will the investor side of the market, forced via codes to retrofit, will they do it "all at once" or phased? I again give you NYC, where a nearly 20 yr old law to force structural maintainence of building skins - so pieces don't fall off and kill people, has resulted in 90% of the time, the minimum amount of work being done each 5 yr certification / inspection / repair cycle. Few investment real estate properites will go all out and reskin themselves - even though they could also put insulation in and reduce operating costs at the same time - no NYC building more than a few decades old has any insulation after all.
As the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink!
So, first measure opportunity to determine if efforts are worthwhile:
And if homeowners/renters are in NY, we have On Bill Recovery Financing:
And is some areas, the Utility will provide the capital equal to 90% of the energy savings 15 year present value:
All that is really missing is transparency of results. I'm working on that:
Thanks for the info. Looked it up, very nice. Every state should have an organization as good as NYSERDA to champion energy programs. I have to admit my last contact with a NYSERDA provider was in 2010.
However, for a utility bill repayment system to reach it's potential, outreach to everyone in the state, the utilities are going to need an incentive they understand and know will happen, which for a utility, means a rate hike. Loan and payment processing fees are a maybe and only add up if millions participate. A rate hike can be tied to fixed goals, so many hundred of millions per year implemented energy efficency improvements. The utility would then utilitze their vast access to equity markets, contractors, professionals, etc. to do the PR work needed to reach and convince millions to participate, they might even "subsidize" some work just so the fixed goals are met. I know... if the utilities pushed the program as is, they'd end up with as much money, but to them that would be a maybe, so why bother, a rate hike tied to goals is a slam dunk done deal pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
At any rate, outreach is needed, I've taken three energy courses since 2010, didn't mention a utility repayment program, and neither Con Ed or Central Hudson do so on line nor have they included it in their mailings that I recall, nor NYS AIA in their newsletters. It might help get the word out if the utilities did have a easily found link to the program and maybe you could get prof orgs in NYS to devote 1/4 a newsletter once a year or a mass emailing just to NYSERDA programs - and whatever related org and programs you'd like to publicize.
Just some ideas, I imagine there are legal and political problems that would get in the way.