Featured Blog Posts (671)

Energy Upgrade California—Up Close and Personal

Our furnace is approaching 25 years old and we have no cooling capabilities, so my wife Michele and I are looking into buying some new equipment before the temperature climbs this summer. I am especially interested in installing a mini-split heat pump, which would allow us to get rid of the ductwork and…


Added by Jim Gunshinan on April 7, 2014 at 2:00pm — 13 Comments

Could a Certificate Motivate Homeowners to Invest in Efficiency?

80 percent of Minneapolis’s housing stock was built before World War II, but 40 percent of these homes have never upgraded their wall insulation. After investigating barriers to completing efficiency projects, CEE’s latest report, Energy Fit Homes, proposes awarding a certificate to homes that achieve basic efficiency standards.

Existing homes need…


Added by Anna Jursik on April 2, 2014 at 7:41am — 1 Comment

Microgrid for Neighborhoods: How Soon?

Microgrids may be the future of the North American electric grid, but when will that future arrive – especially for the homeowner? A team led by Ontario utility PowerStream is trying to find out with a new test project.

“A lot of the microgrid projects that you read about are typically large projects, hundreds of kilowatts, megawatts, running a whole university, a whole hospital, a whole military base,” said Mario Bottero, co-founder and president…


Added by Elisa Wood on March 29, 2014 at 6:30pm — 1 Comment

We're Not Paying Enough Attention to Kitchen Ventilation

Exposure to kitchen pollutants is a significant and overlooked health hazard in homes. The home performance industry pays great attention to protecting against exposures to combustion pollutants from water heaters and furnaces, but very little attention to an unvented combustion device that is used nearly every day: the…


Added by Chris Stratton on March 27, 2014 at 4:00pm — 4 Comments

Passive House Delivers 80% Energy Reduction in a 90-year-old House in Santa Cruz

After years of telling friends, "When we remodel our house to Passive House standards we will use 80% less energy than similar homes in the area," and crossing our fingers that the data proved out, we are delighted to share with you our first year's energy data for living in Midori Haus.  

What is Midori Haus?  The name simply means "green house" since Midori is the Japanese word for green and Haus is the German spelling for house.  The house was originally built in 1922, a…


Added by Chie Kawahara on March 18, 2014 at 12:07pm — 6 Comments

Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Releases Sponsor Guide and Reference Manual v1.5

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Sponsor Guide and Reference Manual (v1.5) (Sponsor Guide), a technical operations guide for the national Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Program.

First conceptually introduced at the 2012 ACI National Home Performance conference in Baltimore, Md., the Sponsor Guide is the result of more than…


Added by Cortney Krauss on March 19, 2014 at 10:55am — No Comments

ARRA Keeps Working for You

Almost two years ago I posted a blog about the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA); ARRA, or the “Stimulus Bill”, has gotten pilloried in the media as a colossal failure and waste of taxpayer dollars. But if you would take the time to do a little research, you would see that most of the coverage has been far from the truth.

Because of ARRA’s support for DOE’s Weatherization…


Added by Jim Gunshinan on March 21, 2014 at 3:30pm — 13 Comments

The Passive House Revolution

An email came from Faith Morgan with a link to a documentary film called “Passive House Revolution,” produced by the Arthur Morgan Institute for Community Solutions in Yellow Springs, Ohio. It was a busy day, but I thought I could use a break from words, so I left the stack of unopened emails for a while and watched the film. I’m glad that I did.…


Added by Jim Gunshinan on March 14, 2014 at 4:02pm — 13 Comments

Solar Loans - what is the tipping point?

There is a lot of news flow on investor interest on raising funds for solar loans, but not much attention has been paid to - what constitutes an ‘attractive interest rate’ to make homeowners ‘jump’ to make that solar investment.

Supply Side First

Lets focus on the resource side; the benchmark for raising ‘low cost’ institutional funds lies will be SolarCity’s…


Added by Bijou Lulla on March 13, 2014 at 6:34pm — 6 Comments

More Proof that Weatherization Works—To Increase Kid's Health

Weatherization is about more than just energy efficiency. It has always been about the health and comfort of the weatherized home’s occupants as well. For a long time these benefits of weatherization have been called “non-energy benefits.” But the health effects of weatherization have now taken pride of place alongside energy benefits. Now there is new research showing increased health and well being among families whose homes have been weatherized. A recent Home Energy article—available…


Added by Jim Gunshinan on March 13, 2014 at 4:00pm — No Comments

What Is the X-Factor In Hiring In Home Performance

An article published in the NY Times, titled, "How To Get A Job At Google" got me thinking about one of the most innovative companies in the 21st century. Google, the people who want to "organize the world's information", was named one of the best places to work in 2012 and 2013 not only because of the free food 24-7, but also because of their culture and the Googlers who work there. It is a place that many in the tech world aspire to work at one time or another. In…


Added by David Byrnes on February 26, 2014 at 9:59pm — No Comments

90% AFUE Wall Mount Furnace

I run an energy program in the mountains of Colorado. We have a lot of homes without existing duct work and older style wall-mounted furnaces. I've been looking for a decent upgrade choice for my clients - so far Rinnai seems to be the brand of choice for most heating contractors.  Problem is they have an AFUE of only .82 at the max, so don't qualify for high-efficiency furnace rebates through our program.  

I recently discovered the Energy Saver 90 Plus from Empire Heating, a…


Added by Cameron Millard on February 26, 2014 at 7:54am — 6 Comments

New Boston Homes Generate More Energy Than They Consume

In 2013, Boston earned the title of the most energy-efficient city in the United States from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). So why is the city outranking all others?


For one, the city implemented its own Climate Change policy, which sets energy-savings goals, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions 25 percent by 2020, for the municipal government and the community. In 2013,…


Added by Stephanie@SaveOnEnergy on March 5, 2014 at 1:12pm — 1 Comment

How to Help Appraisers Fairly Value Home Energy Efficiency Improvements

In 2013, we published a blueprint with the National Home Performance Council that outlines a seven-step…


Added by Melissa Ulbricht on March 6, 2014 at 9:49am — 10 Comments

Which Communicating Thermostats are Consumers Most Likely to Use?

With the Google buyout of NEST thermostats, attention has turned from the “smart meter” to the thermostat as a focal point of residential energy efficiency. (Read this recent editorial by Alan Meier.) But several years ago Energy Star decided…


Added by Jim Gunshinan on March 6, 2014 at 2:00pm — 15 Comments

Standard Retrofit Packages—What Works?

If we want to make good, or great, home performance a reality for more people and families across North America, we must come to some agreement on standard retrofit packages that work. Not every house is the same, but we can agree on standards that can be widely, quickly, and efficiently applied to similar housing types. The home performance community has more than three decades of experience to bear on the question. Please add your voice to the discussion.

Join Scott Yee, PARR;…


Added by Jim Gunshinan on March 4, 2014 at 11:35am — No Comments

Can you trust your Load Calc Software?

Attention Wrightsoft Users!

  Have you ever completed a load calculation and it just seems like it was short of what you had expected?  Particularly when you are first starting out with a tool, contractors can make mistakes. After all, we tend to learn "the hard way", right?  In an effort to make software work, the companies tend to start with some default values that require adjustment.  For instance, most have the duct system in…


Added by Christopher Morin on February 18, 2014 at 12:24pm — 7 Comments

A Valentine's Day Lesson

 Here is the offending thermostat. Check out the mercury switch under the dial! Thank goodness we don't make them the way we used to…


Added by Jim Gunshinan on February 14, 2014 at 2:23pm — 26 Comments

Do you make this mistake on Maintenance?

     Cleaning the condenser coil.  This has always been the number one task that Service Technicians avoid at all costs when maintaining residential equipment.  Maybe it is the nature of the fast paced business when the weather gets hot?  Certainly could not be the lack of water to rinse the coil as there is almost always is a water spigot on either side of the home.  I cannot figure out why,  and this may be one of the largest aspects of seasonal maintenance that impacts the efficiency of…


Added by Christopher Morin on February 7, 2014 at 1:24pm — 1 Comment

4 Things a Quality Contractor Would Not Say

1. If you sign today, I will take $X thousand off!

This is a sales tactic often taken by a used car salesman. A Quality HVAC Contractor will price their installation with confidence, after finding a solution to fit the needs of the customer, and correctly sizing such equipment. I have no problem with "ballpark" numbers over the phone, as this can help sift through customers that are not interested in quality, so contractors do not waste time on what tends to be free…


Added by Christopher Morin on February 1, 2014 at 11:00am — No Comments

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Retrofitting Vintage Home for Energy Efficiency

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How to Insulate a Tiny House (or a Big Fat House)

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