How the Military is (Indirectly) Fueling the Solar Industry

Wednesday, March 5, 2014 10:28
Posted in category Energy Efficiency

Obama Solar MilitaryIf ever there was a champion of efficiency, the military would be it. Energy efficiency is no exception to this generalization. As The Solar Foundation (TSF) and Operation Free tell us in a recent Veterans in Solar report, the U.S. military has scaled up its use of distributed renewable energy technologies, at home and in combat zones, to strengthen energy security and improve operational costs and capabilities.

Always occupying a certain crest on the waves of technological innovation, the American military has made efforts toward energy independence, bolstered by a Department of Defense (DoD) mandate to use renewable power for 25% of total facility energy consumption by 2025. Read the rest of this entry »

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    How Behavioral Science Can Increase Energy Efficiency Adoption

    Monday, December 10, 2012 19:01
    Posted in category Energy Efficiency

    Energy Efficiency BehaviorBy Sam Shrank/GreenOrder

    Utility operations are being forced to evolve as customer expectations shift, technological change continues and new players enter adjacent markets. As utilities chart their course in areas such as energy efficiency, smart grid, and distributed generation, they find themselves in unfamiliar positions. The second in our four-part series (See Part I by my colleague, Mat McDermid, Finding the Regulated Utility Role in a Shifting Energy Landscape), we discuss how utilities can leverage behavioral science research as they expand into markets where they are not a monopoly and customers need to be convinced about the benefits of the products and services offered.

    Since setting up auto-pay the day I moved into my apartment, I’ve given no thought to my utility bill. Given that my job is to analyze and advise utilities, I’d venture to say most people are no more engaged. However, with an evolving set of customer offerings—energy efficiency (EE), alternative fuel vehicles, demand response, and the like—many utilities are realizing that they may require better, different, or more communication. In short, they are discovering what it means to sell.

    And not only are they beginning to market things customers may not feel they need, they now have competitors as well, particularly in the EE market. Various other entities are looking to advise large electricity and gas users about how to lower their bills and provide help with financing, sell devices directly to customers that increase automation and control, or take over the utility’s role as the provider of EE offerings funded through utility bill surcharges. All of these reduce both the direct benefit to utilities from performance incentives and the indirect benefits from higher customer satisfaction, improved regulatory relationships, and perceived leadership.

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      Pictures From Our BPI Building Analyst Class

      Thursday, November 8, 2012 16:21
      Posted in category Energy Efficiency

      Our satisfaction comes from getting to know our students as they learn new skills and prepare for their new careers. Check out some photos from our BPI Building Analyst Class

      Blower DoorBlower Door SetupClassroom




















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        Awesome Video About Home Energy Performance

        Friday, October 12, 2012 17:47
        Posted in category Energy Efficiency

        Ever wanted to know what a certified energy auditor does but you’re too lazy to read? Well it’s your lucky day because here’s an awesome video about just that subject:


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          7 Tips to Becoming an Energy Auditor

          Thursday, September 27, 2012 9:56
          Posted in category Energy Efficiency

          Energy auditors diagnose the efficiency of a home or business’ heating and cooling systems, ducts, filters, thermostats, etc. and provide recommendations to help owners save money. As the interest in energy efficiency continues to grow and local and national programs are creating incentives for those who make their homes more efficient. This means that the demand for energy auditors continues to grow, and now’s a great time to enter the field. Here are some tips to help you get started in the business:

          Seven Tips for Becoming an Energy Auditor

          1) Do Research about the Field: Consider purchasing The Contractor Guide to Home Performance or a similar guide to arm yourself with information. Check out the DSIRE database to get an idea of the rebates and incentives offered to understand what’s available to consumers in your area as well. In other words, know what you’re getting into and what’s involved in the position.

          2) Do Research about Training: It’s important to find training that prepares you for a nationally recognized certification as well as research any other designations your local utility might require. Generally, becoming an industry auditor requires some type of national certification such as BPI or RESNET HERS.

          3) Get an Energy Audit for Your Own Residence: This will give you an idea of what energy auditors actually do, and you can learn some of the tricks of the trade firsthand. There are also videos online that can give you an idea of what processes are involved before you actually see them in person.

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            How Reliable is an Energy Audit?

            Wednesday, September 26, 2012 9:21
            Posted in category Energy Efficiency

            There are many reasons to be interested in an energy audit; the results can help you save money, improve the indoor air quality of your home or business and reduce the environmental impact of your energy use. However, it’s important to keep in mind that energy audits are much the same as any other service; their accuracy depends on the person or company performing them, and there are many different levels of reliability out there.

            Energy Auditors

            When searching for a reliable energy auditor, you’ll need to make note of the person or firm’s record, as well as any reviews you’ve discovered online or through word-of-mouth. Asking for sample audits from the past is always a smart choice, as is doing some research about how much previous clients have accrued in savings.

            It’s also important to keep in mind that reliability of energy predictions will vary greatly depending on the type of savings that you’re looking for. For example, fixes such as switching to higher efficiency heaters or A/C units or buying new fixtures often have a high predictability on savings, while more complicated changes such as changing HVAC schedules can be much more difficult to predict. This is further complicated by the fact that occupant behavior will also have an effect on energy savings, or lack thereof.

            Keep in mind that energy audits provide additional benefits beyond simply saving money. They can improve the comfort of your residence/workplace, as well as pinpoint ways to make your home/workplace a safer place to be because a proper energy audit will measure leaks in ductwork, which can lead to mold and mildew later.

            Have you had a positive or negative experience with energy audits? Let us know how reliable your energy audit was by leaving a comment. We look forward to hearing from you!

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              3 Essential Pieces of Equipment for an Energy Auditor

              Monday, September 24, 2012 12:09
              Posted in category Energy Efficiency

              Once you’ve decided to enter the field of energy auditing, there are several pieces of equipment that will become an integral part of your everyday work. Three of the most important are a blower door, a thermal infrared camera, and a DuctBlaster.

              • Blower Door: Blower DoorThis is a machine used to measure how airtight a building’s envelope is. Blower doors can also be used to test the airtightness of ductwork, to measure airflow between building zones, and to aid in physically locating places where air is leaking out into the building envelope. Blower door technology was first invented in the late 1970s and has been a primary way to measure leakage factors since that time. A blower door can cost anywhere from $2,500 to $4,000.


              • Thermal Infrared Camera: Thermal CameraThis camera forms images using infrared radiation instead of visible light like a traditional camera. It operates in wavelengths to measure surface temperatures and discover light that is in the heat spectrum. These cameras assure that insulation has been installed correctly and can be used on interior and exterior energy audit surveys. Often, thermographic inspections work in tandem with blower door tests. A thermal infrared camera costs about $4,000+.


              • DuctBlaster: Duct BlasterA DuctBlaster (also referred to as a duct leakage tester) is a tool used to measure how airtight a HVAC (air heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning) ductwork system is. It consists of a calibrated fan to test air flow rate and a pressure sensing device to measure fan-flow created pressure. Together, these measurements determine ductwork airtightness, which can aid in one’s knowledge of how to increase energy conservation.

              With these tools, an energy auditor has the ability to create a more efficient home or workplace for his/her customers, saving them money in the long run. Are you an energy auditor? Comment and let us know what tools you wouldn’t leave home without!

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                Product Review: Minneapolis Duct Blaster

                Wednesday, September 5, 2012 20:10

                As part of our partnership with The Energy Conservatory, CleanEdison is now proud to use the Minneapolis Duct Blaster to train our residential energy auditing students.

                Leakage from the heating and cooling ducts in a home can be a major waste of energy in a house, and it can lead to numerous problems. Leaks in the ductwork cause inefficiency in Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning Systems (HVAC) and increase the use of electric strip heaters. Therefore, duct testing for leakage is important to eliminate efficiency losses and save money.

                There are two different types of performance testing systems used to test leakage: Duct Blaster and Blower Door. Duct Blaster is frequently used for direct pressure test while Blower Door is a whole house testing system.

                The Minneapolis Duct Blaster is a great product that can measure air-tightness from 20 to 1,500 CFM. Weighing only 7 pounds, the product is portable and can be easily used in new construction applications where a Blower Door can’t be used (it’s also great for transporting to our classes all around the country!). Test Instrumentation consists of DG-700 Digital Pressure and Fan Flow Gauge with high accuracy digital manometer and necessary hoses to connect system.

                “Partnering with TEC allows for CleanEdison to train more students nationwide with the best equipment in the industry,” said Allison Simon, CleanEdison Senior Operations Associate. “By training with TEC equipment, CleanEdison students will be exposed to quality equipment in training as they begin or continue their careers in home energy auditing.”

                Here’s a quick video guide to using the Minneapolis Duct Blaster:

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                  Puget Sound Energy Incentives Reward Home Energy Efficiency

                  Tuesday, February 14, 2012 18:50

                  Statewide incentives have made three energy efficiency programs possible in the state of Washington. RePower Bainbridge, RePower Bremerton, and RePower Kitsap are community-wide initiatives that incentivize home energy efficiency with the goal of improving home health and comfort while creating local jobs in the clean energy sector. The RePower programs specify incentives for a variety of qualifying improvements, such as winterization, weatherization, and building envelope upgrades. When homeowners install a qualifying energy improvement system, device, or appliance, they become eligible for an additional $400 RePower Reward.

                  By improving home energy efficiency, consumers can save a considerable amount of money that would otherwise go toward energy bills. When homeowners have access to incentives such as rebates, tax credits, or cash rewards, they are often more motivated to take advantage of services such as free home energy audits and home energy consumption surveys. The professionals who provide these audits are residential energy auditors who have undergone rigorous training in building science. Certified energy auditors are fluent in building performance standards, and they apply their knowledge of energy-consuming systems to the audits they conduct.

                  Energy auditors and building analysts can deliver the energy efficient upgrades and retrofits that improve building health and quality of life for the residents of Bainbridge Island, Bremerton, and Kitsap. A career in energy auditing awaits anyone who wants to improve the way homes use energy and make energy more affordable for homeowners. Energy auditor training courses are available in several cities, including Portland, Oregon. For certified energy auditors and building analysts, programs like the RePower initiatives can provide a wider customer base of homeowners looking to reap the monetary benefits of home energy improvements.

                  Stay on the lookout for updated incentives for this year. If you live in an area with similar home energy efficiency incentive programs, then you have even more reason to seek BPI Certification.

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