Featured Blog Posts (512)

How the Heck Does a Heat Pump Get Heat from Cold?!

It's been cold out this winter, so I've been talking a lot about heat. Invariably when I talk to people about how heat pumps can keep your home warm in winter, they get a look of bewilderment on their faces and ask how that's possible. No one ever tells me that they're confused about how a…

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Added by Allison A. Bailes III on February 13, 2011 at 7:42pm — No Comments

Icing on the . . . Cake??



 

     R-49 attic insulation is recommended for this climate, and I spec R-60 for most attic floors because…

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Added by Ed Voytovich on February 12, 2011 at 8:51am — 1 Comment

ACI's Energy Upgrade California

ACI's Energy Upgrade California, held January 10-11 in Los Angeles, presented a pretty good picture of how the Energy Upgrade California program will roll out across California. Currently an investor-owned utility (IOU) pilot program, it offers modest rebates for whole house improvements. There are a variety of rules and regulations, and paperwork, and processes that were all laid out pretty clearly at the conference. In addition, the local municipalities talked about their related programs and… Continue

Added by Steve Mann on February 11, 2011 at 5:21pm — 3 Comments

Staging and Phasing Efficiency

A few weeks ago I was interviewed on the“Green, Better, Best” radio show. I was asked in advance to provide a "top ten” list of energy saving tips for the home. I've been asked this many times before, and I always feel like I’m being asked to discover the “easy” button. When it comes to energy generation and efficiency, there are no silver bullets that will take down the beast, but with good planning…

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Added by Paul Scheckel on February 11, 2011 at 6:30am — No Comments

New Label for Things Made from Wind Energy

I am composing this blog post on a computer that was likely assembled in a factory that runs on electricity made from coal. The aluminum for the case and other parts of the computer probably came from a smelter powered by natural gas. The electricity powering the computer here in California could come from a combination… Continue

Added by Jim Gunshinan on February 10, 2011 at 3:30pm — No Comments

Musings on Texas Rolling Blackouts

The recent incident of rolling blackouts that occurred in the Texas ERCOT power grid raises some interesting issues for home owners, residential energy professionals and others concerned about energy policy.  A recent article by…

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Added by Gary Kahanak on February 5, 2011 at 12:00pm — 8 Comments

Code is a four letter word

 

From my experience in the field I would say that code is the most overused misunderstood word. Early in my construction career I heard this word thrown around. It was and is referenced often with true meaning and good advice.  

However it has also been used as a conversation ending to a dispute from the Ivory Tower “Thou shalt not doubt in me for I am the reference of thy Code and cannot be denied”. It is from these sources that I have issue. I have found that often times…

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Added by Glen Gallo on January 31, 2011 at 3:45pm — 3 Comments

The New Rules of Home Improvement

Many homeowners are beginning to recognize the higher standards that are being demanded from home improvement contractors.The new rules of certification, accreditation and independent verification have complemented well the old ways of selecting a contractor so that the two establish a benchmark that bodes well for the professional perception of the industry. It is not a coincidence that in 2010 credentialing and training organizations have achieved their highest…

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Added by David Allen on January 27, 2011 at 7:30am — 1 Comment

Extending Energy Efficiency Financing To Underserved Households

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory just released a new Policy Brief on NYSERDA’s Green Jobs-Green New York Program.  It focuses on their recent effort to extend EE financing to underserved households. Prior to the launch of GJGNY, NYSERDA used Fannie Mae Energy Loans to provide program participants with access to financing to overcome the upfront cost barrier of energy upgrades.  The underwriting standards for this unsecured loan product, including a minimum decision credit score of 640, …

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Added by Merrian Fuller on January 25, 2011 at 3:13pm — 2 Comments

How to make energy efficiency affordable

Energy efficiency is a tortoise in the green energy race. Not glamorous like solar, wind or smart grid, it tends to plod along in the back of the pack, attracting little media attention. But being last can be a good thing; you learn from the frontrunners.

Such is the case when it comes to financing. EE is beginning to borrow from strategies that have spurred tremendous growth for solar and other energy resources. These include customer aggregation and a kind of power purchase…

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Added by Elisa Wood on January 24, 2011 at 8:30am — No Comments

How to Talk to a Builder

Recently I was talking to one of our HERS raters who said that one of the reasons he prefers going after the existing home market is that he’s more comfortable talking with homeowners than with builders. He’s afraid that builders will see his lack of construction knowledge and send him packing.

What can you do to overcome this fear? Take heed of these points, and you’ll be fine:

  • Realize that you don’t need to know everything about building.
  • Let the builder know…
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Added by Allison A. Bailes III on January 20, 2011 at 7:07pm — 2 Comments

Energy Efficiency and the Big Picture

I keep striving to see the Big Picture, which some consider a flaw, but while in that mode I chanced upon a book that may have given me a Glimpse.



I recommend reading, “The Plundered Planet: Why We Must—and How We Can—Manage Nature for Global Prosperity,” the latest work by Paul Collier. Collier is Professor of Economics at Oxford University, and a former director of Development Research at the World Bank. He demonstrates an understanding of how countries and economies work--and…

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Added by Gary Kahanak on January 16, 2011 at 7:00pm — 1 Comment

Goodbye to the Light Bulb We All Know and Love

You know which light bulb I mean. It’s the one you’ve burned your hands on when trying to unscrew it too soon after it’s been turned off. It’s the one you put in the lamp in your living room to read by in your comfortable chair; the one you use to light the stairways at night. It’s the 100-watt incandescent that uses… Continue

Added by Jim Gunshinan on January 14, 2011 at 11:00am — No Comments

Auditors Offering Contracting Services - Conflict of Interest?

This very question was recently posed in the BPI Group.  Is there a conflict of interest when an energy auditor also offers contracting or weatherization services to their clients?  At first glance, many would say that the easy answer is "yes". The common reasoning is that people will steer their clients towards the products they sell in order to make as much money as possible.  After all, that's what we are all in business for, isn't it?  The other answer was "it's just human…

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Added by Jon LaMonte on January 14, 2011 at 8:35am — 10 Comments

A Game Changer for New Home Construction

Meritage homes, a big national production home builder, has announced its intention to only offer ultra energy efficient homes.  They will document this by using the HERS Index (Home Energy Rating System), which is currently used for ENERGY STAR qualified homes, and is a standard of the U. S. mortgage industry.  A home built to the current 2006 IECC energy code has a HERS Index of 100, and is considered the "reference" home for a given design.  To meet ENERGY STAR requirements in our climate…

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Added by Gary Kahanak on January 9, 2011 at 4:00pm — 1 Comment

Energy Efficiency Programs in Progress!

On Wednesday,  January 5, 2011 Home Energy Consultants attended a marketing training seminar in Fayetteville sponsored by Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) and presented by CLEAResults Consulting, which is implementing the SWEPCO Residential Solutions incentive program.  The training session was intended for any participating contractor of the SWEPCO program, including contractors for heating and air conditioning, insulation, duct sealing, air sealing and energy…

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Added by Gary Kahanak on January 7, 2011 at 4:30am — No Comments

Looking for Air Leakage Data

 

Thanks to all those who have contacted us!

 …

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Added by Wanyu Rengie Chan on January 5, 2011 at 2:00pm — No Comments

The Next Big Leap

“So what can we do to keep homes improving from an energy efficiency standpoint?”

For a long time, answers such as “improve insulation” or “designed better HVAC” systems would have likely been what first came to mind. However, with new building guidelines,…

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Added by Nathan Christensen on January 5, 2011 at 7:03am — 3 Comments

Indoor Air Quality and Energy Audits

Can you improve indoor air quality with an energy audit?  You bet.  Recently our company was asked to do some troubleshooting on a 50 year old home in Northwest Arkansas.  The occupant has environmental sensitivity and respiratory issues, and was having difficulties staying in her home due to her physical reactions and symptoms.  The homeowner suspected the culprit was cellulose fibers from attic insulation added several years previously.

 

We showed up with our diagnostic…

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Added by Gary Kahanak on January 3, 2011 at 4:30am — 3 Comments

My Friend the Smart Meter

I am an unabashed supporter of smart meters. While testifying about energy efficiency at the European parliament, I logged into my home’s smart meter (in California) and showed them my current energy use. The members of Parliament were so impressed—none of them had ever seen output from a smart meter—that I may have influenced energy efficiency legislation in Europe. I teach a course about energy efficiency at the University of California, Davis, and I make every… Continue

Added by Home Energy Magazine on January 1, 2011 at 1:30pm — No Comments

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