Home Energy Magazine's Blog (60)

Book Review—Home Performance Diagnostics: The Guide to Advanced Testing

It (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) is superior to the larger book in two important ways. First, it is somewhat cheaper than the Encyclopedia Galactica. Second, it has the words “DON’T PANIC” inscribed in large, friendly letters on its cover.

—“The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” Douglas Adams

If there were any book in my library that deserves that “Don’t…

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Added by Home Energy Magazine on June 26, 2012 at 12:32pm — 2 Comments

Century Club Contractor Spotlight: Chad Ruhoff, Neil Kelly Company

Every year EPA and DOE recognize members of the home performance industry with the Century Club Award. The award goes to companies that improved the energy efficiency of more than 100 homes in a single year through the Home Performance with Energy Star program.

As we know, behind every successful efficiency program, there is a team of hard-working contractors. This year, we got a chance to speak to some of the contractors that participated in local programs to achieve these…

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Added by Home Energy Magazine on June 25, 2012 at 3:26pm — No Comments

Editorial: Reflections on ACI

An industry's health is sometimes measured by the enthusiasm of its trade shows. Arguably, ACI is not a trade show, but it certainly is a bellwether for the home performance industry. And it rocked. By all measures, ACI was larger, broader, and more exciting than past conferences.

ACI continues to be a magnet for audiences ranging from contractors just starting out and receiving blower door training to engineers and building scientists. In this way, it serves as the premier…

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Added by Home Energy Magazine on May 1, 2012 at 10:34am — 5 Comments

Energy Out West

The Energy Out West conference is held every other year and began in 1996 when a group of people doing weatherization work in the Northwest thought they could help each other do it better. The current president of Energy Out West (EOW) is Mimi Burbage, who should be familiar to readers of Home Energy and anyone in weatherization. Mimi brings that independent, Alaska, straight talk style to whatever she does, from heading the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation to her work for EOW.…

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Added by Home Energy Magazine on April 26, 2012 at 11:33am — 1 Comment

5 Stats Your Next Client Must Hear

Energy auditors and retrofitters know that it’s hard to sell the benefits of energy efficiency to homeowners. But the truth is that energy efficient upgrades save homeowners money, help sell homes quicker, and yield a higher profit when on the real estate market.

Because it’s not always easy to explain industry ratings and scores to homeowners, auditors need to be armed with statistics to help convey their message. I’ve compiled six statistics that show the importance of energy…

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Added by Home Energy Magazine on April 10, 2012 at 1:55pm — 2 Comments

Folk Labels and Home Energy

You’ve almost certainly seen them: a yellow Post-it on the thermostat or a brief note scribbled near the water heater controls, or perhaps a dog-eared card taped to the clothes washer. These are reminders to ourselves (or visitors) about how to operate the device. We call them “folk labels” so as to distinguish them from “official labels,” such as the EnergyGuide, UL, Energy Star, or other information provided by the manufacturer.…

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Added by Home Energy Magazine on March 1, 2012 at 3:38pm — 3 Comments

Measuring Matters

Perhaps the greatest challenge to promoting energy efficiency is that you can’t see it. People understand electricity produced from a PV collector on the roof, and a kWh meter can easily report precisely how much energy was generated. But with more-efficient products, savings cannot be directly measured; instead, one must reckon the difference between a real and a hypothetical situation. This complexity creates a lingering uncertainty whether the promised savings did or did not actually…

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Added by Home Energy Magazine on January 5, 2012 at 9:36am — No Comments

Advice from a Homeowner

Working at Home Energy would seem to have prepared me for having an energy efficiency retrofit done on my own home, at least to ask all the right questions.  But Murphy’s Law intruded nevertheless, and you may learn from my experience.  We live in the SF Bay Area in a 970-sq ft wood-framed stucco single-family home on one floor over a basement and garage, no air conditioning, with central heat.  Our goal for the audit was to improve comfort, as hot days were hotter inside the house,…

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Added by Home Energy Magazine on October 20, 2011 at 11:37am — 10 Comments

Home Energy Rap

Yes, you read the title right. Not only is Home Energy magazine providing bimonthly content in the form of a magazine, but we have now officially entered into the wild world of rap. Our very own editor, Jim Gunshinan presented the following Home Energy rap at the 2011 National Association for State Community Services Program (NASCSP) Training Conference that took place in Seattle last week. If nothing else, it will make you smile.…

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Added by Home Energy Magazine on September 26, 2011 at 1:30pm — No Comments

Celebrating Early Adopters of Energy Efficiency

Andrew Rudin's article in the latest issue of Home Energy describes his experiences with a PV and a solar thermal system. The results are not encouraging because the energy savings were modest at best and financial benefits possibly non-existent. The real-world performance described by Rudin is a depressing reminder that good intentions alone can't wring energy savings from an expensive, imperfect…

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Added by Home Energy Magazine on September 6, 2011 at 1:41pm — 2 Comments

The Bumpy Road to Net Zero Energy

By Alan Meier



It’s easy to lose the longer perspective when we are involved in day-to-day efforts to save energy. That’s why I want to focus on a single home—Danny Parker’s house in Florida—to illustrate the bumpy road to zero energy use. The figure on the right shows 21 years of electricity use, along with many of the major events in Danny’s household. (Follow the green…

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Added by Home Energy Magazine on July 11, 2011 at 12:30pm — 16 Comments

What Tokyo Must Do



Few countries have been dealt such a tragic combination of natural and manmade disasters as Japan. The part of the disaster that I understand is the shortage of electricity. I wrote a book, Saving Electricity in a Hurry, in 2005 while working at the International Energy Agency.1 In the book, I explained the measures that a government must take in order to quickly reduce electricity demand while protecting…

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Added by Home Energy Magazine on May 1, 2011 at 4:30pm — No Comments

The Making of an Industry at ACI





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Added by Home Energy Magazine on March 1, 2011 at 4:30pm — No 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

Restoring Credibility in the Efficiency Marketplace

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link and nowhere is this adage truer than with the assurance of a manufacturer’s compliance with energy efficiency standards and endorsement programs. If any link is broken in this process, then it is impossible to “haul up” those energy savings for the consumer. The Department of Energy (DOE) the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are finally taking actions to repair some of the more fragile links in this chain, beginning… Continue

Added by Home Energy Magazine on November 1, 2010 at 2:30pm — No Comments

ERVs Get The Yellow Flag



As we make homes tighter, we need to provide ventilation, which costs energy. One way to reduce the energy impact of that ventilation is to use an air-to-air heat recovery system. A heat recovery ventilator (HRV) recovers sensible heat by exchanging heat between incoming and outgoing airstreams. An energy recovery ventilator (ERV) is similar to an HRV but also allows moisture to be exchanged.…

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Added by Home Energy Magazine on September 1, 2010 at 11:00am — No Comments

A Cottage Industry with High Electricity Use

Can growing marijuana change the way homes use electricity? In rural Humboldt County, in far-northern California, there’s no doubt that it can. Figure 1 tracks average monthly residential electricity use in Humboldt County and in California. Until the mid-1990s, these two values were almost identical. But after 1996, Humboldt County’s electricity use suddenly turned upward. What happened? In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 215, which legalized the medical use of marijuana. In… Continue

Added by Home Energy Magazine on July 1, 2010 at 4:30pm — No Comments

Targeting the High Users

Homes with high energy consumption are likely to provide us more opportunities to save energy. If that’s true, then why don’t we see more programs and businesses geared toward the high users?



Regulatory authorities discourage utilities from creating programs targeting the high users. It is politically unpopular for utility programs funded by ratepayers to support the wealthy. High users, the logic goes, are probably wealthy and therefore able to save energy…
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Added by Home Energy Magazine on May 1, 2010 at 4:30pm — No Comments

Home Energy Monitors

Home Energy Monitors, that is, devices that display a home’s energy consumption have been touted as Silicon Valley’s contribution to the national energy conservation effort. A Home Energy Monitor (or HEM) constantly informs the occupants of their home’s electricity and gas consumption, along with conversions to monthly costs and comparisons with previous periods. Some models can (or will) communicate with heating and air conditioning systems. These devices will…

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Added by Home Energy Magazine on March 1, 2010 at 2:00pm — No Comments

LEDs: Avoiding the CFL Debacle

The lighting efficacies of LEDs have been rising steadily and are poised to overtake CFLs. Fluorescents and CFLs still outshine LEDs with respect to general applications and cost of light, but LEDs are already superior for some niche applications and offer many new exciting illumination opportunities. Now we need to ensure that the reputation of this new energysaving lighting source won’t be undermined by a tidal wave of shoddy products. Tests for quality, efficiency, and durability of LEDs… Continue

Added by Home Energy Magazine on January 1, 2010 at 2:00pm — 1 Comment

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