Featured Blog Posts (635)

Look Before You Leap: Being a Desk Jockey Can Help You Do an Energy Audit

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

Typically, an energy auditor knows very little about the house she is visiting until she actually arrives at the house. In a previous i.e. post,…

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Added by Lester Shen on July 9, 2012 at 7:30am — 3 Comments

4 Things to Check Before Installing a New, High Efficient Heating System.

I had just completed a home energy audit and learned that insulation levels and air sealing measures were up-to-speed. After crawling into the attic, performing a duct blaster, checking the temperature of the hot water, and a bunch of other things, I had come to the educated conclusion that this home’s best chance for improved energy efficiency and lower energy bills while heating the house would include replacing the heating source.

The 80% gas furnace is in the garage right next to…

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Added by Don Ames on July 4, 2012 at 10:38pm — 7 Comments

The "Snackwell Effect" Revisited

(I posted this blog to the KQED Quest site a few years ago, but a recent discussion begun by Tom Delconte in the General Forum has raised the issue again. Hope to—paraphrasing Evan Mills in his response to Tom—make a mountain into the molehill it really is.)

Recent articles in USA Today and California's Flex Your Power e-Newswire discussed the phenomenon known in energy efficiency circles as "take back" or the "Snackwell Effect" (see "…

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Added by Jim Gunshinan on July 11, 2012 at 10:30am — No Comments

Women in Energy: Research and Engineering

We're writing a series on women who work in the energy field and thought home energy professionals would be interested to hear their perspective.

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

Center for Energy and Environment focuses our research and programs on Minnesota buildings and homes, but …

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Added by Anna Jursik on July 3, 2012 at 9:28am — No Comments

Editorial: Why Japan's Electricity Crisis Matters

You may not read about it on the front page of the newspapers, but Japan is undergoing a second electricity crisis. The first took place last spring and summer after the Fukushima earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent meltdown of multiple nuclear power plants. That power crisis mostly affected Tokyo and northern Japan. This second crisis affects all of Japan, and it has implications for the United States (and the world) at many different levels.

From an energy perspective, Japan is (at…

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Added by Home Energy Magazine on July 3, 2012 at 8:00am — 2 Comments

Century Club Contractor Spotlight: Hal Smith, Home Energy Performance By Halco

In 2011, Halco earned DOE and EPA's Century Club Award by improving the energy efficiency of 278 homes, more than doubling their Home Performance with Energy Star work in 2010, which was 121 homes. Working with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) program, Halco was not just able to improve energy efficiency in the area, but they did so with…

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Added by Home Energy Magazine on June 28, 2012 at 12:00pm — No Comments

There's an App For That!

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

Like many other energy audit programs, CEE has begun to integrate smart phones and tablets into home energy audits. These devices will soon be essential pieces of the home energy auditor's tool kit. Their advantages include data collection and…

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Added by Lester Shen on June 27, 2012 at 9:16am — No Comments

Duct Gains: Why do we hate R-8?

Ever since the adoption of the 2009 International Residential Energy Conservation Code (IECC), duct sealing efforts have been tested using the total leakage or leakage to outdoors methods.  It really is amazing how much duct gains effect the operation of your equipment and the comfort of your customer.  The missing part of "duct testing" appears to be how well the ducts are insulated.  Sure, you are required to use R-8 insulation on supply ductwork when located outside the building envelope,…

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Added by Christopher Morin on June 26, 2012 at 1:13pm — 1 Comment

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 — 1 Comment

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

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