Program Details of the One Knob Proposal

Posted on April 28,2015 by Nate_Adams in efficiency program

Has your experience working with an energy-efficiency program felt like the scene depicted in the photo at right? Did you feel that the correct and smart path departed from the paved path? Having many colleagues on both the program and contractor sides, it’s pretty clear that utility incentive programs, as they stand today, fail. Let’s do better. Better for homeowners, better for contractors, and better for programs too! The One Knob program design is an attempt to pave a path where people want to walk.

Hard Truths of Home Performance

Posted on April 28,2015 by Nate_Adams in efficiency program

If you've been reading my blogs, you know that I have learned some hard truths. You read the warts-and-all implosion story of my Century Club company in How an Efficiency Program Killed My Business.

The ‘Low-Hanging Fruit’ Fallacy

Posted on April 28,2015 by Nate_Adams in home performance

First, a definition. The phrase “energy efficiency programs” (or just “programs”) refers to any utility-funded or state-funded program that offers homeowners a rebate, incentive, or inexpensive financing to make energy efficiency upgrades in their homes.

Designing a ‘One Knob’ Incentive Program

Posted on April 28,2015 by Nate_Adams in efficiency program

Author's note: This series is aimed at the home performance industry. My company values transparency, so we put it in the public sphere for homeowners to see and understand our thinking.

How an Efficiency Program Killed My Business

Posted on April 28,2015 by Nate_Adams in business

Note to Homeowners: This article is primarily aimed at the Home Performance industry. I strive for radical transparency, so I put this in the public sphere for you to read as well.

Deep Energy Retrofits Are Often Misguided

Posted on April 28,2015 by user-756436 in deep energy retrofit

All through the 1980s and 1990s, a small band of North American believers worked to maintain and expand our understanding of residential energy efficiency. These were the pioneers of the home performance field: blower-door experts, weatherization contractors, and “house as a system” trainers. At conferences like Affordable Comfort, they gathered to share their knowledge and lick their wounds. These pioneers understood what was wrong with American houses: They leaked air; they were inadequately insulated; they had bad windows; and their duct systems were a disaster.

Plugging Air Leaks Would Save Billions

Posted on April 28,2015 by ScottG in air leakage

Bringing all U.S. homes to airtightness levels spelled out in the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code would save as much as $33 billion in energy costs annually, according to new research at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Why Weatherization Isn’t Enough

Posted on April 28,2015 by user-982535 in air sealing

Ask almost any building performance expert what you should do first to cut your utility bills and improve the energy efficiency of your home, and the answer will inevitably be to weatherize. And that’s as it should be. Most of our homes are rife with air leaks. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, in the average American home, 30 cents of every dollar spent on heating and cooling is lost to air leaks and insufficient insulation.

Weatherization Funding Has Been Slashed

Posted on April 28,2015 by user-756436 in weatherization

On February 17, 2009, President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), sometimes referred to as the “Obama stimulus funding.” Among the bill’s many provisions was a $5 billion allocation over three years to the Weatherization Assistance Program. Since the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has historically funded the weatherization program at between $210 million and $230 million per year, the $1.6-billion-per-year stimulus funding was a sevenfold increase over the usual funding level.

My First Energy Audit

Posted on April 28,2015 by user-1048334 in energy audit

I conducted my first paid energy auditing gig a few months after I’d completed the Maine State Housing’s Auditor certification program. It was a two-week program — one week of class work and one week of field training. That's just enough learning to make you dangerous (and I’m only being a little facetious; uninformed auditor recommendations can have dire consequences). I had done three practice audits on the homes of friends and family and observed three others. However, this was the first paying audit largely on my own.

Energy Upgrades for Beginners

Posted on April 28,2015 by user-756436 in air leak

Owners of older homes often contact GBA and ask, “What can I do to make my home more energy-efficient?” My standard answer goes something like this: “The first step is to hire a certified rater to perform an energy audit of your home. The audit report will include a tailor-made list of retrofit measures to address your home’s specific problems.”

A Good Time for Energy Audits and Weatherization

Posted on April 28,2015 by AlexWilson in blower door

Wait a second. Spring has barely sprung, and you’re saying we need to start thinking about energy audits already? What’s up with that? There are several reasons why now is a good time not only to focus on energy auditing and weatherization work — not only for your clients, but also for your own home.

After a Bumpy Start, a Passivhaus Success Story

Posted on April 28,2015 by fvleblancusa in architect

In 2006, when we bought our house in Mamaroneck, New York, it was all about location: views on Mamaroneck Harbor, a south-facing orientation, proximity to the train station and the village’s main shopping street, and the ability to have a decent sailboat moored in deep water across the street and winterized at the shipyard next door.

Ventilation Requirements for Weatherized Homes

Posted on April 28,2015 by ab3 in ASHRAE

I went to school with Cajuns in south Louisiana, and fights were a big deal. They happened frequently, and when they did, a small crowd would gather. The noise would grow quickly and soon everyone in the schoolyard would run over to where the fight was happening. One day in sixth grade, we exploited this tendency and staged a fight between two shoes at recess. Sure enough — our tight circle of boys banging two shoes on the ground and making a lot of noise brought the whole school to us.

Insulating Stud Cavities in Existing Homes

Posted on April 28,2015 by user-1048334 in existing wall

I was about to launch into an article on insulating empty wall cavities in an older house when I realized that the topic is best broken down into two sections: a survey of the products you can use to insulate your wall cavities, and a discussion of installation techniques and methods. I'm just glad I realized that in the first paragraph as opposed to the fifth page. So this article will focus on insulation materials.

How to Insulate and Air-Seal Pull-Down Attic Stairs

Posted on April 28,2015 by user-1048334 in air leak

Pull-down attic stairs are super-sized attic hatches that just beg homeowners to store more stuff in their attic. Besides the air-leakage and insulation problems stemming from having a particularly large hole in your ceiling, pull-down stairs creates a potential storage headache. For homeowners, a storage problem usually means “not enough space.” For energy auditors, a storage problem means using space that ought to filled with insulation for Timmy’s guitar, his old bike, Legos, his new bike, and the unpacked remains of twelve previous moves.

Calling all Weatherization Workers

Posted on April 28,2015 by user-756436 in DOE

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) wants to standardize and professionalize the work of weatherization and home performance contractors. Towards that end, the government agency has launched a project called the “Guidelines for Home Energy Professionals” project.

The High Cost of Deep-Energy Retrofits

Posted on April 28,2015 by user-756436 in deep energy retrofit

How much does it cost to perform a deep-energy retrofit at a 100-year-old single-family home? Thanks to a recent study in Utica, New York, we now know the answer: about $100,000.

The research was sponsored by New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), an agency that administers programs funded by public benefit charges tacked onto electric utility bills. The program paid for deep-energy retrofits at four wood-framed buildings in Utica, New York.

Weatherization’s Home-Stretch Recovery

Posted on April 28,2015 by Fretboard in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

The Weatherization Assistance Program – which emerged as a major administrative challenge and political target after its budget vastly expanded under the federal stimulus bill – turns out to be meeting expectations.

An Ecological Home Upgrade in Ireland

Posted on April 28,2015 by CQyy3iccQB in energy retrofit

Reprinted with permission from Construct Ireland magazine.

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