Jim Gunshinan's Blog (50)

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 — 7 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

Warning: This Blog Post Contains Gross Generalizations

I try to avoid generalizations, especially the gross kind, but sometimes you have to climb up on the mountain to get the big picture.

My wife and I were recently discussing the cover story in the May 20, 2013 Time magazine called “Millennials’ Moment”. The subtitle is “They’re…

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Added by Jim Gunshinan on June 25, 2013 at 1:00pm — No Comments

More Evidence of Link Between Energy Efficient Homes and Occupants' Health.

New Study: "Impact of LEED-Certified Affordable Housing on Asthma in the South Bronx"

Here is more evidence that the occupants of energy efficient, healthy, and affordable housing enjoy better health compared to those in traditional low-income housing. The results of an in-depth study by Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City of residents who recently moved into LEED-certified low-income multifamily housing showed:

  • Decreases in continuous daily respiratory…
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Added by Jim Gunshinan on June 20, 2013 at 5:00pm — No Comments

Change is Hard—How Do You Get People to Accept It?

Changing one’s daily routine and making big decisions about money is hard. When a home performance contractor asks a customer to consider an audit, they are asking a lot. Besides the cost of the audit and any retrofit measures the homeowner chooses to pay for, which is probably the biggest challenge, there is also the inconvenience. The audit and retrofit may require the homeowner to take time off from work. Having workers climb in and out of the attic, under the crawlspace, and drill holes…

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Added by Jim Gunshinan on May 28, 2013 at 2:37pm — No Comments

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Home Energy Pros was founded by the developers of Home Energy Saver Pro (sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy,) and brought to you in partnership with Home Energy magazine.

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Affordability & Deep Energy Upgrade/Passive House Retrofit in Berkeley, California.

We have a small 1940s single level house (1005sqf) in Berkeley, California that is in need of a…See More
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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…See More
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David Eggleton commented on David Eggleton's group Considering Permaculture &/or Transition
"In August 2014, in Minnesota, there's another unprecedented opportunity to meet and mix with a…"
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Glen Gallo commented on Jim Gunshinan's blog post Energy Upgrade California—Up Close and Personal
"Nate, RE: Duct test On my own home and a rental I have tested more than once over the last many…"
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Tools of the Trade

A hammer and a saw used to be the key tools for home contractors. Today, the best-in-breed also use…See More
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Energy Auditing Equipment for Sale, Trade or to Purchase

Discuss the pros and cons of the equipment you are interested in prior to purchase. Post equipment…See More
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Considering Permaculture &/or Transition

Some who work to increase energy efficiency and intelligent/wise use of energy are, and some will…See More
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Jim Gunshinan commented on Jim Gunshinan's blog post Energy Upgrade California—Up Close and Personal
"Thanks for all the comments. Yes, it is interesting how the duct leakage grew over the years. Maybe…"
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Ed Minch commented on Jim Gunshinan's blog post Energy Upgrade California—Up Close and Personal
"What sort of energy bill do you have now, what is  your target bill, and what will it cost to…"
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"I look forward to hearing more about the inside of the program! The big question that came to mind…"
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Glen Gallo commented on Jim Gunshinan's blog post Energy Upgrade California—Up Close and Personal
"It is curious to see a 15% difference in the duct test from the test out of 2007 to the current…"
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