Featured Blog Posts (512)

Century Club Contractor Spotlight: Fred Hutchinson, Hutchinson Plumbing Heating Cooling

Another Century Club Award-winner this year is Hutchinson Plumbing Heating Cooling. Working with the New Jersey State's Clean Energy Program, Hutchinson completed 431 jobs in 2011 that improved the energy efficiency of homes through the Home Performance with Energy Star Program. We had a chance to talk about this year's success with owner Fred Hutchinson. Here's his business profile and thoughts on the future.…

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Added by Home Energy Magazine on June 27, 2012 at 2:00pm — No Comments

Book Review—Home Performance Diagnostics: The Guide to Advanced Testing

It (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) is superior to the larger book in two important ways. First, it is somewhat cheaper than the Encyclopedia Galactica. Second, it has the words “DON’T PANIC” inscribed in large, friendly letters on its cover.

—“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” Douglas Adams

If there were any book in my library that deserves that “Don’t…

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Added by Home Energy Magazine on June 26, 2012 at 12:32pm — 2 Comments

Century Club Contractor Spotlight: Chad Ruhoff, Neil Kelly Company

Every year EPA and DOE recognize members of the home performance industry with the Century Club Award. The award goes to companies that improved the energy efficiency of more than 100 homes in a single year through the Home Performance with Energy Star program.

As we know, behind every successful efficiency program, there is a team of hard-working contractors. This year, we got a chance to speak to some of the contractors that participated in local programs to achieve these…

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Added by Home Energy Magazine on June 25, 2012 at 3:26pm — No Comments

Site Survey: Windows & SHGC

  When completing your site survey for Manual J Load Calculations, significant time can (or should) be spent identifying window values.  Did you know that most windows these days come with an NFRC rating, a tag located in the window jam that you can reference on NFRC.org? This identification number can tell you important details like window coatings, u-value, light transmittance, air leakage, and solar heat gain coefficients (SHGC).  Not identifying the correct values can sway your load…

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Added by Christopher Morin on June 10, 2012 at 6:34pm — 2 Comments

How to Market Your Home Performance Business in the Summer

Reposted from the Energy Circle blog -- http://www.energycircle.com/blog.

We hear from residential energy efficiency pros around the country that spring and summer are particularly challenging times for their…

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Added by Johnny Ritzo on June 14, 2012 at 7:30am — No Comments

Portland’s First Passive House (Passiv Haus)

Jake Staub and Sonia Barrantes, two veteran former U.S. Navy Test Pilots in Portland, and Chris Corson, of EcoCor Design/Build in Belfast, have embarked on Portland’s first Passive House journey set to break ground in Spring 2012.

For Staub and Barrantes, the Passive House, or Passiv Haus for…

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Added by Samuel Strickland on May 24, 2012 at 8:08am — No Comments

Tracking the "Look" of Energy on Pinterest

Reposted from i.e., the Center for Energy and Environment's Innovation Exchange blog -- http://mncee.org/Innovation-Exchange/ie/

The current wealth of social media activity offers a great insight into how the public conversation is trending on energy topics. As of February 2012, Facebook has over …

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Added by Lester Shen on June 8, 2012 at 11:30am — No Comments

Heat Pump Break-Even COP's

How do you know if  should upgrade your air-conditioner to a heat-pump and create a dual-source application during replacement this Summer?  I personally always prefer the option of multiple fuel sources, particularly since energy prices have been all over the place during the last decade.  Fortunately, based on average energy prices, there is some simple math to figure out if an aggressive assessment should be made for a dual-source heat pump application, based on equations from ACCA's…

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Added by Christopher Morin on June 3, 2012 at 12:23pm — 5 Comments

A Solar House with Soul in Wiscasset, Maine

A brand new passive solar house completes the first piece of a long held dream for homeowner Jason Peacock. A builder and LEED Accredited Professional, B.A. Jason also works at Maine Green Building Supply where he has honed his sustainable knowledge. Passionate about green, when Jason bought 36 acres of land just outside of Wiscasset, Maine he had a very specific vision in mind.…

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Added by Samuel Strickland on May 23, 2012 at 1:45pm — No Comments

Energy, Faith, and the Narratives We Live By

(This post first appeared as an article in America Magazine, a Jesuit, Catholic, national weekly journal, in the May 6, 2012 issue.)

Since the beginning of the 20th century, oil has played the role of cheap labor in the U.S. economy and in economies around the world. Traditionally, we have been interested in the horsepower of our car engines, but what if we measured the energy we use in terms of human labor? To power a typical…

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Added by Jim Gunshinan on June 7, 2012 at 4:47pm — No Comments

The Google Earth of IR Images—Q&A With Storm Duncan

By now you may have heard about drive-by energy audits. But have you heard of drive-by energy audits performed on entire cities at the same time? Say hello to the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company, Essess. Essess (pronounced like “recess” without the “r”) has recently entered the home performance scene, and they’re making a lot of noise. In just a couple of weeks, we here at Home Energy received multiple emails from friends and partners in the industry…

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Added by Macie Melendez on June 5, 2012 at 5:07pm — 4 Comments

Diagnosing Improper Fixed Orifice Sizes

   I have found that this topic often goes unnoticed, or can be a guessing game out there in the field.  Diagnosing improper fixed orifice sizes is actually a fairly simple, cut and dry procedure.  First, I would argue for efficiency reasons, as well as ease of proper charging, you should just field install a TXV.  Of course, when you are on the job site you don't want to spend precious time attempting to adjust refrigerant charge with the incorrect orifice. You would never be able to get…

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Added by Christopher Morin on May 23, 2012 at 5:31am — 2 Comments

Conversations from the Wx Frontlines: Terry Emelander

Another winner of the 2011 Weatherization Assistance Program National Recognition Award, presented at the National Weatherization Training Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, was Terry Emelander. (You can view an entire list of winners here.)

Terry is the owner and president (along with being a licensed Michigan builder) of T & L…

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Added by Macie Melendez on May 30, 2012 at 8:30am — No Comments

Conventional AC is not COOL

In order to feel comfortable in the cooling season conditioned air has to be at the right air temperature AND relative humidity. Conventional AC dehumidifies when it is running but it is thermostatically controlled by air temperature only. Which means that when air temperature is reached the AC turns off and stops dehumidifying. Not a big problem if you live in an arid climate such as Pheonix but if you live in New England where the summers are very humid and not…

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Added by Joseph Novella on May 22, 2012 at 6:36pm — 12 Comments

Correctly Sizing a Capacitor

I don't know how many times a technician has said that they installed a part based on what was on their service truck.  I have heard of technicians wasting money over-sizing contactors, cutting down air filters, and even using controlled substances to clear condensate drains!  Of course, these scenarios all get the job done, but I would argue the many reasons why not to do these.  The one thing that gets to me is when a technician doesn't verify they are installing the correct size dual run…

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Added by Christopher Morin on May 13, 2012 at 11:43am — 2 Comments

Conversations from the Wx Frontlines: Robert Parkhurst

At the most recent National Weatherization Training Conference that took place in New Orleans, Louisiana, six people were presented with a 2011 Weatherization Assistance Program National Recognition Award.

The Recognition Awards acknowledge outstanding contributions that advance the goals of WAP through individual or group achievement, inspiration, or innovation. The Recognition Awards program is open…

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Added by Macie Melendez on May 17, 2012 at 2:00pm — No Comments

Missed Opportunity? Energy Audits @ Home Purchase

It may be the…

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Added by Laura Reedy Stukel on May 8, 2012 at 9:30pm — 12 Comments

Realistic Expectations and "The Occupied Zone"

How many times as a technician have you gone out to the same customer's home because of unrealistic expectations?  Some homeowners expect air-conditioners to work like an ice box, want you to size them for their big party on Fourth of July weekend, and expect you to show up at the drop of a dime when it doesn't meet their impossible notion.  Of course, this could be avoided by establishing a standard during the sales process or a little customer education.  I liked to talk about "The…

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Added by Christopher Morin on May 5, 2012 at 8:07pm — 1 Comment

Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER)

Energy Efficiency Ratio, or EER, is a way to exhibit how well an air-conditioner is operating based on the power being used.  Most homeowners are of course familiar with SEER, the ratio across an entire season.  Since SEER is tested at a "partial load", the EER is a more realistic number to use when figuring energy savings.  AHRI tests their EER of residential air-conditioners using 400 CFM per ton of airflow at 95F Outdoors / 80F Indoors and 67F Wet Bulb.  This compared to the SEER testing…

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Added by Christopher Morin on April 28, 2012 at 6:47pm — 6 Comments

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