Are you ready for the ENERGY AVENGER?
Or should the question really be…
Are you ready for the ENERGY AVENGER?
Or should the question really be…
When you’re training for a race of virtually any kind, it’s great to train with someone who’s better than you are. Someone who will push you and make you stretch for your best. It doesn’t do any good to train with those slower than you, those who can’t push you. In this race that is business, we owe a great debt to Allison Bailes at Energy Vanguard. He’s setting the standard for using social media to spread the word of our work. He’s reaching out beyond the choir and engaging an ever broader audience. He’s setting a high standard for the message, and we should all thank him for the time and effort that he’s putting into his work.
Allison recently wrote about whether you should blog and use social media. Whether you are or aren’t, you should go and read his work on this. Allison shares freely and that is the heart and soul of what good social media is about. We frequently repost his work primarily because it’s great and we want to make sure that the word gets around. Our work at EnergyLogic focuses a bit more on the business of the energy professional industry and a bit less on the building science component of the business. There are of course a number of other excellent building science outlets, including Green Building Advisor (Allison writes there as well) and Building Science Corporation’s website and newsletters among others.
So, thanks Allison and keep up the good work. The industry owes you a debt for forcing us all to up our game. Like Tiger Woods, you’ve forced us all to play better. (You’re not like Tiger in those other ways… just the golf) We’ll keep doing our part to try to improve the state of business in our business and working to get the message out with the same flair and joie de vivre that you employ so well.
-Your Friend Steve
Over the holidays, I had the pleasure to try and wrap a toy pony for my daughter. I kept thinking, “I need to put this in a box.” Yes, I know – this is why the whole gift-bag industry exists, but it’s not really “unwrapping” when you just pull out some tissue paper, is it? Anyway, boxes are so much easier to wrap than a pony — legs, tail and head all vying to poke through my paper.
Houses are the same. It’s pretty easy to wrap a boxy house and make it air tight and well insulated. So why are houses so often drafty or just cold? Well, part of it is that no one really likes to live in a totally boxy house. We like it when a house has contour – windows and overhangs that stick out on the outside; drop-down or vaulted ceilings on the inside; interesting angles and visually appealing lines. All of these add style and often practical use to a home — think built-in book cases — but can also contribute to a loss in energy efficiency if not done correctly.
At EnergyLogic we’ve done thousands of home energy audits. While some windows need to be replaced (I’m looking at you pre-1960s single-pane aluminum-frames) it’s far more often the basement rim joists, bay windows and drop ceilings that may be the real energy culprits. These are the legs, tail and head making your boxy home not so boxy – and they are potential areas of energy loss. They’re not impossible to wrap, but it does take extra time and a little bit of effort.
When we do a home energy audit where the homeowner has comfort issues – that is, it’s too hot or cold in a particular area – 95% of the time it’s an issue with air sealing and insulation. Someplace in the home there is a gap that is allowing air to move freely in/out causing loss of heating or cooling, or, there is insufficient or missing insulation to control the movement of conditioned air.
The good news is that most of the leakage issues are relatively easy to fix and won’t require expensive retrofit work. Once these areas are taken care of, you’ll be able to wrap that pony in comfort and take all the time you need to do it right.
COO of EnergyLogic, Inc.
You’ve probably heard these things from some manager in the past: “Budgeting is hard.” “Budgeting sucks.” “Budgeting takes the joy right out of my life.” I must admit that I have had all these thoughts myself. But as we’ve grown (me as a manager, EnergyLogic Academy and Energy Pro Services as a division, and EnergyLogic as a company) we’re getting exponentially better at this and I now feel about Budgeting the way I feel about Broccoli- I know it’s good for me and I’ve learned to like it. As a division, this will be our 3rd annual budget forecast, and one thing that helps a ton is to have a couple of years of past financial performance (actuals) to work with. We’re getting better at tracking our time and expenses for all aspects of our division; training, providing, LEED, et al; and we’re getting better at identifying the Key Performance Indicators and Drivers for each of the profit centers within our division (particularly training). Additionally, we’ve been developing a clearer vision for what EPro Services will be in 2013 and most importantly, from those KPIs and drivers (which will inform the daily activities of each individual team member) we can develop an executable plan to make that vision a reality. Without that executable plan, we’re like Homer Simpson trying to assemble a barbecue pit without the instructions. We’d have a nice ideal –a picture on the box, if you will- but no way to be sure if we’re taking the right steps to turn it into reality.
EPS Division Director
Energy Star V3
On September 12, 2012, Energy Star posted Revision 6 of the ESv3 guidelines on their website. EnergyLogic has the newest revised checklists available on our website: Latest Energy Star Checklists.
The goal of the Revision is to formalize changes that have been made since Revision 5 that are currently being used, such as the change from mandating 2×6-24-inch on center framing to allowing 2×6-16-inch on center framing if the cavity is filled with R-20 or greater insulation, and to post or clarify other changes that have been made.
Energy Star has eliminated the need for HVAC contractors to collect equipment serial numbers, to document how they are measuring the air flow across the AC evaporator, and are allowing Raters to perform the pressure balancing, if so desired by the builder and contractor.
Energy Star’s clarification of total duct leakage testing has caused a number of concerns which have been taken directly to Energy Star for consideration. Basically, Energy Star is stating that total duct leakage testing should occur at final when the duct system is in its final state. It is not saying that testing for total duct leakage at a rough stage is bad, but it does disallow it for verification purposes. This means that builders who see the value of rough duct leakage testing will have to pay for an additional test. In addition, there are many concerns about the accuracy of the testing results when testing only at a final state. EnergyLogic has been actively discussing this issue with Energy Star and we are hopeful that Raters and Builders will be given the choice to test at either stage of construction. We will keep you posted on the results of our conversations.
The biggest changes in the program are the next phase-in of the HVAC requirements. In essence, this change revolves around determining the heating and cooling load for each potential orientation (i.e., site-specific), rather than utilizing the worse-case orientation and configuration of the house. Loads must be determined by the options and features that are in the actual built home (e.g., number of bedrooms, sq. ft. of glass, conditioned, floor area, R-values, U-values, SHGC), not what is stated on the plans; thus, greater coordination and communication will be needed. The same is true for room-level design air flows which must be deigned for each configuration of the house (i.e., site-specific). Lastly, room pressure balancing must be achieved and EnergyLogic will begin testing the pressures to verify that they are not more than + 3 Pascals of pressure with regard to the main body or the house.
EnergyLogic will continue to update our builders and partners on all Energy Star program changes through newsletters and both EnergyLogic and EnergyLogic Academy websites. We welcome all verification partners to review our ENERGY STAR Version 3 for Verification Partners self paced training course through the Academy.