Posts Tagged ‘energy retrofits’

BAM! Home Performance on Steroids

February 26, 2013

If you could reduce your energy bills by more than 50% would you?  In Syracuse, New York, our office has been working on ways to excel at making your home more energy efficient.  Call it Home Performance on Steroids, an Extreme Energy Makeover or Deep Energy Retrofit, it is a new tool in our tool belt to increase comfort and save energy in your home.


As part of a research project for NYSERDA, GreenHomes America has been experimenting with “kicking it up a notch” as Emeril would say. Last summer in our top secret labs (we had to park a truck elsewhere) we spent some time fine tuning ways to improve homes above and beyond what we usually do.

The projects from this fall and early winter have gone great, and the Steroids metaphor sounds good but really, these results have been achieved with honest hard work, side effect free!  I will be talking more about these projects as well the benefits of Deep Energy Retrofits in future posts.   Stay tuned!




Home Star, Cash for Caulkers, Home Performance with Energy Star–Call it what you will. The time to act is now.

January 7, 2010

In December, at an event in a Virginia Home Depot, President Obama declared that “Insulation is Sexy.”

This was a follow-up to his earlier announcement of a Home Star or “Cash for Caulkers” initiative.  (“Cash for Caulkers” may be a cute name riffing off of “Cash for Clunkers”, but Home Star is much more than caulk or caulkers and the CfC moniker is a bit misleading.)

Congress has taken up the idea and is exploring how to put meat on the bones.  And rightly so.  As the Boston Globe points out, this should be an immediate priority when Congress returns to session in a couple of weeks.  It’s the right way to get the 17 percent of construction workers who are unemployed back on the payroll improving homes while also increasing our nation’s energy security and reducing our dependence on foreign oil.  While GreenHomes continues to be busier than ever, that simply isn’t the case for most of the residential contracting and construction industry.  Fortunately, Congress may have a good start on this in the form the REEP legislation introduced by Congressman Peter Welch earlier in 2009, elements of which were incorporated in both House and Senate energy and climate bills that seem to have stalled out. 

It’s time to move forward with REEP under the Home Star banner and get construction workers, manufacturing workers making insulation, furnaces, windows, water heaters, and all the supporting industries back on the job full time.

The HOME STAR Program

As just mentioned, HOME STAR is intended to create jobs in existing industries using incentives for homeowners to retrofit homes to improve energy efficiency and lower energy use.  The program will move quickly with a minimum of red tape and also act as a bridge to long term market development of existing industries and jobs.   

 HOME STAR provides two pathways to incentives and savings.

 A SILVER STAR prescriptive path, what I call the a la carte approach, rewards the purchase and proper installation of specific energy saving equipment (like furnaces and water heaters), high performance major appliances (like refrigerators and washing machines), and very importantly, changes to a buildings envelope (like insulation and duct sealing).   Incentives may range as high as $4,000.  SILVER STAR provides a near term incentive that is simple to administer and easily introduced into the existing marketplace.

A GOLD STAR performance path offers an incentive to households that choose to conduct a comprehensive energy audit and then implement a variety of energy saving measures that together result in a total reduction in home energy use (and energy bills) of 20% or more.   This lines up very well with the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program already on the ground in many states and localities and in development in many more (and I think taking advantage of ENERGY STAR makes a lot of sense here).  The incentive is designed to provide greater rewards the deeper the energy savings—up to as much as $12,000 for projects that save more than 50% of a home’s energy use. The performance path represents the future of home efficiency:  state‐of‐the‐art building science is used to deliver verifiable energy savings, generating confidence among homeowners and investors.  GreenHomes is doing this today, but most of the market is lagging.

Both paths are subject to quality assurance to guarantee that jobs are done right and that advertised energy savings are realized, and to protect against waste, fraud and abuse. This system uses industry performance standards, such as those of the Building Performance Institute and includes a provision that a portion of all jobs are inspected by credentialed professionals, and offers an additional incentive to contractors that invest in a trained and certified workforce.

HOME STAR would breathe life into a still struggling economy and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs by skilled and trained home efficiency technicians and factory workers here in the U.S.   We have great examples of how this both creates jobs and provides enormous benefits to consumers.  The time to act is now.


GreenHomes and “Home Performance” in the Journal of Light Construction

October 26, 2009

JLC Sept 2009 Home Performance ContractingThanks for the great feedback from many of you on the article on “Home Performance Contracting” in the September 2009 issue of the Journal of Light Construction.  For those of you who haven’t had the chance to read it, it’s available on the GreenHomes website.   And contractors lurking out there, you should also consider subscribing to JLC—one of the best periodicals to follow to stay on top of developments in the residential and light commercial contracting sectors.


Fellow Contractors–Check out an ACI Conference

October 15, 2009
ACI: The premier home performance conference in North America

ACI: The premier home performance conference in North America

We’ve had calls from several dozen contractors over the past two months wanting to learn how we do what we do.  While we’re expanding to new locations and will be offering  fanchises soon, I can in good conscience point all contractors (and utility DSM/efficiency managers, policy makers, and anyone interested in the way of the future) to an ACI conference.  ACI hosts what without a doubt is the single best gathering of minds and experience in existing home energy-efficiency retrofits.

Maryland–you’ve got an event next week.  Canada, coming soon.  They have regional events around the county, and their next national conference–a real eye-opener–is in April 2010 in Austin, TX. 

I don’t mind sharing this “secret” even with our competitors.  Frankly, the more contractors that learn how to do things the right way, the better off we all are.  [And we’ve got a head start, anyway 😉 ]


Obama on Letterman–Jobs and EE

September 23, 2009

obama-lettermanOn Monday, President Obama appeared on on “The Late Show with David Letterman”.  (The interview aired on 9/22.)  Among many other things (including a heart-shaped potato), Obama and Letterman discussed the connection between energy-efficiency and jobs.

As captured by the Wall Street Journal:

from the Wall Street Journal coverage of Obama on Letterman):

Mr. Obama suggested that he might look to jump-start job creation by retrofitting old buildings to make them more energy efficient. “Doing that one thing could put hundreds of thousands of people back to work,” he said. To which, Mr. Letterman interjected: “We’re guilty of that here. We’ve got this enormous air-conditioning system that could be replaced somehow.” And the President asked the audience, “Are you guys cold by the way?”


%d bloggers like this: