Elisa Wood's Blog (69)

Figuring out how to go green without going crazy

Utilities worry about a lot of things, such as keeping the lights on, earning a return for investors, and making regulators and customers happy with their service.

Now there is a new worry: How can they protect customers from what one utility refers to as “mental fatigue?”

In this particular case, the utility raises the issue as it prepares to invite homeowners and small businesses to select from among new and possibly complicated rate options made available because of smart…

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Added by Elisa Wood on January 13, 2012 at 1:00pm — No Comments

US beats expectations saving energy

Americans tend to beat themselves up over their imperfections. We eat too much, watch too much TV and owe China too much money. Despite all of our sloth, we can feel good about one area: our progress saving energy.

report issued this week by the Institute for Electric Efficiency found that we saved enough electricity to power almost 10 million homes in 2010 (about 112 MWh). That’s 21…

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Added by Elisa Wood on January 8, 2012 at 5:42pm — 1 Comment

On-bill financing: Why isn't everybody doing it?

If someone told me they could improve the efficiency of my computer so that it operates quicker, at no extra cost to me, I can’t imagine I’d turn them away. Yet, the energy efficiency industry offers a similar option for homes and businesses and at least so far, consumers aren’t flocking to the programs.

On-bill financing gives customers the ability to finance energy efficiency improvements made to their homes and businesses at no upfront cost. Customers pay for the insulation,…

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Added by Elisa Wood on December 16, 2011 at 8:22am — 2 Comments

Fixing people, not just buildings

Electric utilities operated under a rarified business model for decades. Their customers were captive so they rarely had to think about what motivated them to buy. New government energy efficiency mandates have changed that, and done so with an ironic twist. Now utilities must figure how to get their customers to refrain from buying.

It’s not easy persuading people to stop using something they like as much as electricity. But behavioral science is coming to the rescue – or at least…

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Added by Elisa Wood on December 9, 2011 at 7:30am — 7 Comments

Know true costs; Save real energy

By Guest Blogger Kara Saul Rinaldi

More than half of the states in the nation have created programs to increase the energy efficiency of homes through a comprehensive approach that looks at all opportunities to save energy, from insulation to upgrading heating and cooling systems. When taxpayer and ratepayer dollars are used, it is essential that these programs are reviewed with a cost-effectiveness test that provides policymakers with adequate knowledge about the programs’…

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Added by Elisa Wood on December 4, 2011 at 3:24pm — No Comments

Weatherization works: Recent reports are way off base

By Guest Blogger Stephen L. Cowell

A recent article in Newsweek, “Obama’s Big Green Mess,”describes what can happen when contractors are “unfamiliar with the nuances of specialized weatherization work.”  The fact is, installing furnaces that exhaust poisonous fumes, putting in…

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Added by Elisa Wood on November 11, 2011 at 6:25am — 4 Comments

Zero touch energy audit: Will it change the game?

What new energy efficiency technologies will change the game? I’d like to use this space on occasion to explore that question and get your feedback on companies that I profile.

This week’s company is FirstFuel Software, which it appears could make the conventional energy building audit go the way of the buggy whip.

FirstFuel…

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Added by Elisa Wood on November 4, 2011 at 2:39pm — No Comments

Is Occupy Wall Street occupying the wrong street?

My Dad and I have a running joke when we’re in the car together. “Look,” he’ll say. “Gas is cheap. It’s down to $3.39.” Cheap, he means, compared with the month before when it was $3.79 per gallon.

The joke illustrates a good point. A few years ago we were flabbergasted by gasoline prices that exceeded $3 per gallon. Now we’re really happy when it doesn’t hit $4 per gallon.

When it comes to energy, we’re like frogs in water coming to a slow boil. We’ve gotten so accustomed to…

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Added by Elisa Wood on October 28, 2011 at 9:05am — 2 Comments

Time to 'like' the energy internet

We hear a lot about the upcoming democratization of energy.  But with the average consumer thinking about energy only six minutes per year, it’s fair to wonder if anyone will show up to ‘vote.’

But this week an alliance that includes the intriguing combination…

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Added by Elisa Wood on October 21, 2011 at 9:30am — No Comments

Innovators 'home' in on energy

Fortunately for the rest of us, some people missed the message, the one that says we’re in an economic slide so slippery there is no climbing back up.

I had a chance to speak to several of these optimists recently. No, they are not members of the Pollyanna Club; they are green energy entrepreneurs, those who are innovating and growing companies as the rest of the world downsizes. (See …

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Added by Elisa Wood on October 13, 2011 at 9:58am — No Comments

Energy efficiency economics: Beyond 101

At first blush, the economics of energy efficiency seem straightforward.

A business installs lighting controls or some other improvement. The business then sees its energy costs drop. From the savings, the business repays the investment over weeks, months or years, and then turns a profit on the asset.

While that equation holds true, analysts increasingly value the worth of energy efficiency in other more…

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Added by Elisa Wood on October 7, 2011 at 4:20am — No Comments

CHP: Not the Brad and Jen of energy, but...

I hesitate to start this blog with the words “combined heat and power.”  You might stop reading.

Okay, so it’s not the Brad and Jen of energy. (That would be solar and wind.) But what it lacks in glamour, it makes up for in constancy and results. It’s an old guy, been around for about a century. And while its name might not sound green, it offers an extraordinarily efficient way to energize buildings.

About once a year, the …

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Added by Elisa Wood on September 30, 2011 at 8:27am — No Comments

Energy efficiency and the Solyndra effect

Not so long ago the green energy movement celebrated because President Obama used words like ‘renewable energy’ and ‘climate change’ in his inaugural speech. It wasa first for a US president.

Now comes the downside of being a political darling.

Opponents of green energy – or rather opponents of its proponents…

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Added by Elisa Wood on September 23, 2011 at 10:15am — No Comments

Squinting toward retirement: A boon for the lighting industry

Americans report in surveys that they are likely to retire later than expected as a result of this economic downturn that doesn’t seem to want to quit.  While that’s bad news for golf courses and Florida real estate, it helps one industry: energy efficient lighting.

We are squinting, rather than sprinting toward retirement these days. As part of the post-50 crowd, I very much appreciate good lighting in my work space, and I discovered that I am not alone in researching a …

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Added by Elisa Wood on September 16, 2011 at 9:18am — No Comments

Energy efficiency is so in right now part II: The delight factor (and more energy puns)

Guest blog by Cara Miale

Last week, we looked at how the energy efficiency industry is working on its cool factor (Dare I say sex appeal?), to make clean energy more accessible to the masses.

Perhaps a bikini charger doesn’t make much difference when the grid is under great strain as it was this summer; but it does get people thinking about alternatives that…

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Added by Elisa Wood on September 9, 2011 at 4:03am — No Comments

Energy efficiency is so in right now

Guest blog by Cara Miale

In the movie The Social Network, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t want ads on an early version of his social network; he understands that first and foremost, his site has to be cool. And ads, he says, aren’t cool.

Unlike Zuckerberg (well, at least in the beginning), the energy efficiency industry hasn’t quite grasped the value of being cool. It’s an industry that hopes to be popular because it’s right, and it uses…

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Added by Elisa Wood on September 2, 2011 at 9:13am — 6 Comments

How much money can new lighting save your business?

Am I average?

That’s the question that often hits me when someone quotes an ‘average’ statistic. The ‘average’ business or household seems almost mythological. Few of us fall right on that point on the line.

The same is true when it comes to often quoted energy efficiency savings statistics. For example, the US Environmental Protection Agency says that replacing one old-fashion incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent light will save on average $69 over the product’s…

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Added by Elisa Wood on August 26, 2011 at 8:23am — No Comments

Desert Year: Robust Economy and Lessons of the Sonoran Agave

by Skip Laitner

Guest Blogger, Energy Efficiency Markets

Reposted from Real Climate Economics

John ‘Skip” Laitner is an economist, enjoying a desert year while on research sabbatical  from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. Skip is discovering some surprising insights from his time in the desert that can…

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Added by Elisa Wood on August 19, 2011 at 9:11am — No Comments

Home energy devices: Can we bewilder Edison?

Why do so many energy insiders insist that home energy automation will fail?  Many whom I respect say the typical householder will never take the time to fiddle with smart gadgets that reduce energy costs.

Their skepticism, however, just elicits a verbal shrug from Peter Porteous, CEO of…

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Added by Elisa Wood on August 12, 2011 at 12:13am — 4 Comments

What if the light bulb produced more than light?

Talk about a light bulb moment.

A professor of engineering at Edinburgh University recently demonstrated for the first time to a wide audience his technology that uses common every day lights to transmit data.

Harald Haas streamed a video through a desk lamp at Ted Global 2011at Scotland’s Edinburgh International Conference Center in July.

If commercialized, the technology not only creates a vast new application for light, but also dramatically expands our now limited…

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Added by Elisa Wood on August 4, 2011 at 5:42pm — 1 Comment

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