Featured Blog Posts (513)

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.…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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,…

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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…

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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…

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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;…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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

Let's Hear It for People Who Sweat and Get Dirty!



I worked as a janitor at St. Camillus elementary school after school and in the summers when I was in high school. I enjoyed the camaraderie with the other high school kids I worked with, and the crusty Dutch man who was our boss. We cleaned every afternoon in the school year and on weekends, and then painted, cut the grass, and did maintenance on the heating system and other equipment in the summer. We took pride in our work, but we also had fun—once in a while playing a game…

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Added by Jim Gunshinan on January 30, 2014 at 2:20pm — 12 Comments

Claim Tax Credits for Home Energy Efficiency Improvements Done in 2013

If you completed certain eligible energy efficiency improvements last year, you may qualify for credit when you file your 2013 taxes this year.

Remember, though, improvements must have been installed in 2013, not just purchased, and generally, claims can only be made on your primary residence.

Eligible measures may include doors, windows, and…

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Added by Melissa Ulbricht on January 23, 2014 at 11:04am — No Comments

Apply Now to Serve on a Multifamily Certification Scheme Committee

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is currently seeking enthusiastic multifamily industry practitioners with the experience and vision to help define and promote advanced professional certifications for Multifamily Quality Control Inspectors and Multifamily Retrofit Project Managers in the home performance industry.

Individuals who are interested in serving on a multifamily certification scheme committee are invited to submit their credentials via an …

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Added by Steve Lommele on January 17, 2014 at 2:00pm — No Comments

Is the Nest Learning Thermostat Disruptive Technology?

There’s my thermostat now, a squared-off plain looking fellow named White Rogers. He hangs over my shoulder and mocks me three or four times a day for not being smart enough, or responsible enough, to program him. "Hey! I’m BUSY HERE, TRYING TO TRANSFORM THE MARKET FOR ENERGY EFFICIENCY, and you, Mr. White Rogers, are a daily pain in my side. I can’t read you. You don’t even know what time it is, but I do, it's time you get dumped! I’m going over to the Apple store to pick up my own personal…

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Added by Brian Brainerd on January 22, 2014 at 9:21am — 6 Comments

Getting Out the Message on Home MPG

We've created a blog post at AlabamaWISE.com comparing home energy efficiency to auto energy efficiency over time, using photos to help people visualize the prevailing technology when homes were built: http://www.alabamawise.org/whats-your-home-mpg-rating/

Added by Brian Brainerd on January 8, 2014 at 3:48pm — 2 Comments

The Basics: Superheat

Vital to the operation of the refrigeration cycle, superheat must be maintained and stable to protect the compressor.  We all know that the heart of the system cannot compress liquid (slug) without bad things happening.  This would represent low/no superheat.  But, did you know high superheat can cause valve and compressor problems as well?  No matter the reason for attaching your gauges to the system, you must check the superheat, in the air-conditioning cycle.…

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Added by Christopher Morin on January 10, 2014 at 12:03pm — 3 Comments

How Change Happens in Home Performance

I was reviewing an article in Home Energy by Steve Mann that came out in the January/February issue (“DOE’s Challenge Home,” p. 6). He wrote on the latest iteration of DOE’s Challenge Home Program. Steve points out, in his usual insightful and articulate way, what he sees as the strengths and weakness of this program. I hope you’ve read it, or will read it. Send us your comments by email, or on the Home Energy website.

Reading Steve’s article made me think, “Wow, do…

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Added by Jim Gunshinan on January 6, 2014 at 3:00pm — 8 Comments

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