Jim Gunshinan's Blog (53)

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 — 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

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

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 — 12 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

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

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

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 — 14 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

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

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

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

One Story Among Many at Home Energy Magazine

On November 1, 2013, Home Energy began its 30th year in existence. The story telling will begin officially in our January/February 2014 issue, when, along with a lot of new content and some new features, we reprise an article from our first issue—on the energy efficient use of water beds! Unofficially, the storytelling has already begun.

Home Energy began in an office at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a few years ago we moved our shop down the hill to West…

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Added by Jim Gunshinan on December 18, 2013 at 1:13pm — 2 Comments

Check out the latest "Housing and Home Environment News"

Home Energy authors and Cornell College of Human Ecology professors Joe Laquatra and Mark Pierce and colleagues provide important information for anyone interested in energy efficient and healthy homes. In this issue they cover the presence of dangerous levels of radon in natural gas extracted through…

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Added by Jim Gunshinan on November 4, 2013 at 3:30pm — 3 Comments

Leading from Within

When I was still active as a minister in the Catholic Church, I did not enjoy very much presiding at weddings. I had an inkling of the reason at the time, but now I can admit clearly that I was jealous. I didn’t want to bless someone else’s sacramental union as much as I wanted to be in a sacramental union.

I had another, similar insight while participating in an Emerge workshop last weekend. Emerge is a leadership program…

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Added by Jim Gunshinan on October 10, 2013 at 3:30pm — 2 Comments

Do We Give People Energy or Help Them to Save It?

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) was budgeted $2.5-billion by Congress in 2013. The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) was allowed $68-million. Does anyone see a contradiction here?

LIHEAP provides, primarily, emergency help for households who can’t afford to heat their homes in the winter or cool their homes in the summer. It saves the health and sometimes the lives of vulnerable people. It’s a great program. But it is designed to provide help during…

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Added by Jim Gunshinan on September 23, 2013 at 3:28pm — 6 Comments

About Fry Bread and Hope for a Greener Planet

Last evening my wife Michele and I walked a few blocks from the hotel in Phoenix where the National Association of State Community Services Programs (NASCSP) is holding it’s Annual Training Conference, to an Open Market. There were a circle of food trucks and tables offering fresh locally grown fruit and vegetables…

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Added by Jim Gunshinan on September 12, 2013 at 11:50am — No Comments

What Sustainability Is Really About

Just read a book about the work of an environmental mediator, Lucy Moore, Common Ground on Hostile Turf: Stories from an Environmental Mediator (Island Press). What I liked most about this book was that it was a series of ten stories. There…

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Added by Jim Gunshinan on August 12, 2013 at 11:30am — No Comments

Be a Little Like a Used Car Salesperson

Used car salesmen get a bad rap, and there are good reasons for that. But I think the home performance community can learn from them in some important ways. I say that as someone who once had a serious case of buyer’s remorse, but got over it.

When I first moved to California I was working at an independent bookstore in Berkeley, and I liked the idea of not having a car. But after a year I realized that I couldn’t get everywhere I wanted to go in a timely manner on BART (Bay…

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Added by Jim Gunshinan on August 5, 2013 at 3:30pm — No Comments

Checklists—The Professional's Best Friend

Want to know why air travel is still, by far, the safest way to go? Do you want to know how hospitals around the world can cut the risk of post-surgical complications and death by more than half? Do you wonder why the greatest triumphs of engineering, buildings and infrastructure, are beautiful, as well as safe and functional? The answer is checklists. I was inspired by this simple and powerful tool after reading The Checklist…

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Added by Jim Gunshinan on July 24, 2013 at 4:00pm — No Comments

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