Featured Blog Posts (513)

I survived my first ACI

I did it. I survived my first conference in this industry, the 2014 ACI National Home Performance conference in Detroit.



When I joined The Energy Conservatory in June 2013 I was brand new to this industry. Before TEC I didn’t even know this industry existed, let alone what a blower door was. To help me learn all of this building science geekiness I decided to take BPI’s Building Science Principles course and exam. I read the book twice, and then took the exam, which I passed! I…

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Added by Kim Tanner on May 9, 2014 at 9:30am — No Comments

Everyone Knows You Except for Your Electric Utility

Netflix, you were right. I liked Downton Abbey. And thanks, Amazon I do want to read Michael Lewis’ new book. I still can’t figure out how Google knows I have a new dog.

Even if at times it feels a bit eerie, such ‘consumer-of-one’ marketing is a convenience many of us have come to appreciate. And it’s an approach now embraced by most major retailers.

The exception? You’ve guessed it: the ever-old fashioned electric utility.

But…

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Added by Elisa Wood on May 10, 2014 at 1:19am — 3 Comments

Interview with Van Jones: Rebuilding the Dream in Detroit, Part 1

Van Jones delivered the opening plenary keynote speech for ACI's 2014 National Home Performance Conference in Detroit last week.  I've been aware of Van's work since he started the Green Collar Job Corps program at the Ella Baker Center in Oakland, Calif., back in 2007.  Van was the main advocate for the Green Jobs Act that was signed into law by Pres. George W. Bush in that year. 

Under the Obama…

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Added by Home Energy Magazine on May 13, 2014 at 2:46pm — 1 Comment

New Air Tightness Record in Ontario (Dare I say Canada?)

It happened again yesterday: a new record (tell me if you know of a tighter house in Ontario if not Canada!) for air tightness was broken in Oakville by Certified Passive House Consultant (CPHC) Ed Marion of Passive House Ontario.

And this was just a pre-drywall test, so it can only get better from here.…

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Added by Greg Labbe on May 6, 2014 at 1:51pm — 5 Comments

The House of Mystery

Sometimes we forget how complicated a house is. Building scientists know all about a house’s complexity because, even with help from supercomputers, they still can’t reliably simulate many of the processes taking place, let alone model the whole house. Perhaps the biggest challenge is that the darn thing can’t keep still. Cycles with different periods impose their wills on the structure and equipment in not entirely predictable ways. The seasons impose annual cycles for the sun and average…

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Added by Home Energy Magazine on May 2, 2014 at 2:54pm — No Comments

ACI National Home Performance Conference 2014 Highlights

As usual, the ACI National Home Performance Conference contained too many highlights to mention in one blog post. So I will share just a few.

Got up early on Tuesday and went with Tom White, Home Energy Publisher, to a rehab house in a neighborhood of…

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Added by Jim Gunshinan on May 2, 2014 at 2:00pm — 3 Comments

Home Energy Efficiency Now Recognized by Appraisers

The Appraisal Institute has developed a Residential Green and Energy Efficient Addendum. The Appraisal Institute Green Addendum is the first residential energy efficiency appraisal report addendum developed by appraisers, for use by appraisers when appropriate. This report evaluates items of high performance housing for consideration by appraisers.

Measuring the Value of Home Energy Efficiency

The Appraisal Institute Green Addendum will serve as a tool for…

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Added by Everblue on April 30, 2014 at 5:39am — No Comments

A Bit More on Energy Out West 2014

I'll be flying out to Detroit for the ACI National Home Performance Conference next Monday, but before get to Detroit and that great conference, I thought I'd share one more special moment from Energy Out West.

On Thursday afternoon last week, just after lunch, John Tooley, Anthony Cox,…

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Added by Jim Gunshinan on April 24, 2014 at 11:00am — 2 Comments

Plugging into the Internet of Things

Imagine if your furnace let you know when needed a tune-up, or if your home theatre saw you coming and turned itself on. According to Marc Jensen, managing partner and chief technology officer at space150, the Internet of…

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Added by Anna Jursik on April 22, 2014 at 7:31am — No Comments

Energy OutWest 2014

David Hepinstall (right) and his colleague from the Association for Energy Affordability in New York City through their work provide a powerful antidote to cynicism. 
I was at the Energy OutWest Conference several years ago, but a memory still…
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Added by Jim Gunshinan on April 17, 2014 at 11:30am — 4 Comments

5 Things New Energy Efficiency HVAC Contractors Need to Know

1. Do not sell on Price! Use 'Simple Payback'

The price of High-efficient equipment will undoubtedly cost more money up front, compared to the minimum efficiency systems. Taking into account existing repair bills, utility bills, installation, and equipment costs, a high-efficient furnace, boiler, or heat pump will cost the homeowner less over the estimated 10-15 years of operation. When completing the 'Simple Payback' calculation, the high-efficient heating system in New England will… Continue

Added by Christopher Morin on April 15, 2014 at 5:56pm — 1 Comment

Energy Upgrade California—Up Close and Personal Part 2

I am in San Diego for the Energy Out West conference (see photo), and I want to write about it, but while it is fresh in my mind I want to fill you in on my latest Energy Upgrade California experience first.

Before getting on a plane for San Diego, Bill Stewart of Stewart Heating and Air…

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Added by Jim Gunshinan on April 16, 2014 at 12:00pm — No Comments

A call to Builders and Architects: Does the Homeowner Know You’re a Blowerdoor Virgin?

When setting out to build an efficient house, the elephant in the room is air tightness. Industry is resisting mandated air tightness testing if thresholds are introduced meanwhile building codes are ratcheting up efficiency on all fronts except air tightness. Having debunked the myth that “a house needs to breath” its becoming painfully obvious to any building scientist that the lowest hanging fruit on the efficiency tree isn’t geothermal but simply producing a more air tight…

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Added by Greg Labbe on April 9, 2014 at 5:30am — No Comments

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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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

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