Posts Tagged ‘home star’

Welcome ABC Cooling and Heating to the GreenHomes Family!

June 11, 2010

GreenHomes America, the premier national provider of home performance contracting (HPC) has signed a franchise agreement with Hayward, CA-based ABC Cooling and Heating Services, Inc. With the addition of ABC’s multiple locations, GreenHomes America will now be able to provide HPC service to even more of California, where homeowner and government demand for energy efficiency and “green” home improvements is a growing trend.

ABC is a respected, 55-year-old heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) enterprise,
with offices in Hayward and Fresno and more than 40 employees. Over the past 10 years they have helped more than 100,000 homeowners in the San Francisco Bay Area, Silicon Valley, and the Central San Joaquin Valley Region.

Read more.

Thanks,
Mike

Home Star Act Passes the U.S. House

May 6, 2010

By a vote of 246 to 161 the House of Representatives today voted to approve the HOME STAR Energy Retrofit Act of 2010 (H.R. 5019), which authorizes creation of a national energy retrofit program for American homeowners.

The program is designed to spur home energy retrofits by providing direct incentives to install American-made, energy-saving products and conduct whole-home retrofits. The legislation would help three million families save an estimated $200-$500 a year on their utility bills, saving homeowners close to ten billion dollars in the next decade.

GreenHomes America applauds the U.S. House on the bipartisan passage of the HOME STAR legislation.  HOME STAR would create good American jobs in construction, manufacturing and related industries. It would help American homeowners improve the efficiency of their homes and save money. And it would provide a solid foundation for our country’s energy policy and energy security. We encourage the Senate to act quickly to get the HOME STAR bill to the President’s desk and get our workers back on the job.  Until the Senate takes action, though, this is still just a good idea, not reality.

Congratulations to House Republicans and Democrats alike who showed that they can come together for the good of the country–something that hasn’t been easy of late.

Thanks,
Mike

A “Gold Star” Audit

May 6, 2010

What does a “Gold Star” energy audit look like?  It looks just like the audits that GreenHomes provides.

Audit Image

The idea behind a Gold Star audit is an accurate and actionable.

To be accurate, the audit needs to include a good inspection and a range of diagnostics including combustion safety, infiltration (using a blower door), duct leakage testing, and an infrared scan.  If the person conducting the audit is making cost-effectiveness recommendations, then they need to have a firm understanding of local installation costs by a quality contractor—if they don’t know these exact prices they can’t talk about cost effectiveness!  And only by accurately determining how your home is operating, can we determine how much you can save.

To be actionable, any recommendations for improvement need to be easily understood by you and easily communicated to an installation contractor who can fully execute the recommendations.  For example, if the recommendations are for attic air-sealing and insulation (you shouldn’t do the insulation without the air-sealing), the person doing the work needs to understand exactly what needs to be done and be able to deliver (assuming the recommendations are accurate—see above!).  

A simple “clipboard audit” or home energy rating won’t cover both of these for you, so make sure you get what you need!  And don’t waste your money on what you don’t!

For a bit more background and additional links, see my earlier posts, our website, or the video description above.

Thanks,
Mike

Bipartisanship in DC? Can energy-efficiency bring us together?

May 5, 2010

Spence Abraham, the former Secretary of Energy under Bush 2 and a former Senator from Michigan, and John Engler, the former (R) governor of Michigan and current President of the National Association of Manufacturers, penned an op-ed in The Hill today endorsing Home Star, the energy-efficiency home retrofit bill.  And they summed up the merits by quoting the President.

“This is not a Democratic idea or a Republican idea; this is a common-sense approach that will help jumpstart job creation while making our economy stronger.”

And “common sense” is a phrase often used by Peter Welch (D-VT), who is the lead sponsor of the bill in the House, a bill that made it out of committee with bipartisan support.

Here’s hoping that common sense and bipartisanship can prevail for the good of the country.   It should.  Quoting Messrs. Abraham and Engler, “Support for jobs, homes and energy efficiency naturally crosses party lines.”

Reason to be hopeful.

Mike

Headline: Higher Oil Prices Raise Profits for Exxon and ConocoPhillips

May 1, 2010

The New York Times picked up a Reuters story indicating, guess what that will oil prices back up to near $80/barrel for the first quarter, oil companies profits are up.  And with energy analysts expecting oil prices to go higher, we can expect oil company profits to climb.

It would be much better to see headlines like “Higher Oil Prices Mean Bigger Savings for Home-Owners Who’ve Improved Efficiency”.   Prices will rise.  But there’s no need to wait to start saving.  Save now, save more later!

Here’s hoping Home Star will help spur things along.  The more we spend on energy-efficiency, the more we save.  The more we spend on oil…the more we spend.  And we’re not just paying for the oil.  Our tax dollars are paying for containment with the massive oil spill in the Gulf.  Our tax dollars will pay for cleanup there.  And we’ll pay higher food prices as Gulf fisheries are devastated.  Some day, we’ll pay for the effects of the pollution from oil we toss out into the atmosphere.  

We’ll always need energy–but less is more.  Invest in energy-efficiency and save.  Or spend for energy now, and spend again for energy later, and keep on spending.

Thanks,
Mike

Senator Sanders and Assistant Secrectary Zoi lead geothermal discussion

April 17, 2010

Asst. Secretary Cathy Zoi joins U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and Congressman Peter Welch at a forum to discuss geothermal technology.

I just got back from a discussion this afternoon hosted by Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and featuring Assistant Secretary Cathy Zoi from the Department of Energy on the topic of geothermal.  Congressman Peter Welch also had the chance to speak of the bipartisan Home Star legislation that he introduced this week to help create jobs and make homes more energy-efficient. 

I’m a fan of geothermal, where it makes sense.  I was heartened though, to see many of the discussants talk about the importance of energy efficiency first.  Geothermal often makes the most sense when we’ve maximized energy-efficiency.  As a couple of the speakers mentioned–and as readers of this blog often hear–a critical first step is improving the envelope of the home.  That is, making sure the home is well-sealed, well insulated, with good ducts were applicable, and extending even to efficient windows and doors.  Geothermal–along other heat pump technology–is going to be a solid part of a smart energy future.  And it will best deliver on its promise after we’ve made our homes and commerical buildings more comfortable and energy-efficient.

I captured Cathy Zoi’s opening remarks on a bit of shaky video.

Thanks,
Mike

Congressman Welch Leads Home Star Job Creation Initiative

March 15, 2010

Congressman Peter Welch hosted an event today in Williston, VT at the home of some Vermonters investing in energy-efficiency in their own home–and expecting to save 30% doing so.  The Congressman spoke about the pending Home Star legislation, and local contactors, builders, retailers, energy experts, and home owners joined in supporting the proposal.

Remarks by Mike Rogers, Senior Vice President, GreenHomes America

Williston, VT — March 15, 2009 — My name is Mike Rogers. I’m the Senior Vice President at GreenHomes America.  And today we’re here to talk about jobs.

First, let me say what a privilege it is to be here with Congressman Welch.  I’m thoroughly impressed with the Congressman’s work on this issue.  He has shown time and time again the ability to reach out across the aisle and across different segments of his own party to hammer out good, common sense solutions.  I’ve had the opportunity over the last few months to work with a broad group representing contractors, manufacturers, labor, environmentalists, and energy experts from across the political spectrum to provide real-world input into the Home Star concept.  And I’m here to tell you that because of the way Peter focuses on the common sense and practical approach, Home Star has good bi-partisan support.  We in Vermont are lucky to have such leadership.

But let’s get back to jobs, jobs, jobs, because that’s what Home Star is about.

Home Star would help create jobs in the construction industry, perhaps the hardest hit sector of our economy, and a sector in which recovery is lagging even as we show signs of emerging from the recession.  Nationally, more than 25%, that’s 1 in 4, construction jobs have been lost over the past couple of years.  In Vermont, that’s almost 6,000 jobs.  6,000 people out of work.  Home Star would help turn that around.

Home Star means jobs for contractors, the insulators, window installers, heating guys and plumbers.  People in our own communities that we can get back to work, in jobs that can never be exported.

Home Star also means jobs at our local lumber yards and supply houses where we get the materials to make homes more energy-efficient.

Home Star means manufacturing jobs.  And well over 90% of the products and materials used in these home improvement projects are made right here in the U.S.

I can’t speak for the industry, but at my company, these are good paying, year-round jobs, with full benefits, vacation and holiday pay, health insurance, 401(k)s, and more.

The jobs created get people back to work, off unemployment, and get money flowing through our communities.

Home Star does this not by providing a hand-out, but by encouraging private sector investment.  That’s homeowners investing in their own homes.  And private sector businesses investing in their own companies to stand up an industry that will thrive for decades to come. 

That is good economics.  Good home economics.  Good Vermont economics.  And good economic policy for our country.  As Peter would say, it’s good common sense.

Home Star is the right policy for right now.  It’s a bipartisan policy.  I’d like to thank Congressman Welch for his leadership and his willingness to look at this not from a Democrat or Republican perspective, but from the perspective of what’s best for our state and our country.

Home Star Hearing in the Senate

March 11, 2010

If you CSPAN types would like to watch the discussion in action, a video of the Home Star hearing today is available on the Senate website.  Skip ahead 21 minutes to get to the start of the hearing.

The testimony is also available, with great written testimony by Larry Laseter on behalf of the Home Star Coaltion.

Senate Hearing Puts HOME STAR’s Job-Creating Potential in the National Spotlight

March 11, 2010

Exciting developments on the HOME STAR front with bills being drafted in both the U.S. House and Senate. GreenHomes America is proud to be supporting these efforts with input based on our real-world experience delivering improvements to homeowners in New York, New Jersey, and California, improvements that not only help them stop wasting money and energy, but more them more comfortable in their homes.

And, as Brett Knox, the President of GreenHomes said, “New jobs are desperately needed in America and HOME STAR will provide them by accelerating the growth of an industry focused on making homes use less energy. HOME STAR is based on established quality assurance standards so homeowners can be confident they are getting quality improvements installed and they will start saving money on their utility bills immediately.”

In Washington DC, the HOME STAR Coalition today applauded Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and members of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for holding a hearing on the need for bi-partisan, job-creating legislation such as the proposed HOME STAR legislation.

“I’m honored to have the opportunity to testify before the Senate to voice support for the Home Star program on behalf of the entire HOME STAR Coalition. HOME STAR is a win-win-win as it will put our nation’s skilled construction force back to work, benefit homeowners through comfort and energy efficient improvements to their existing homes, and result in long term energy efficiency gains. On behalf of the entire Home Star Coalition, I urge Congress to act quickly to commence this program,” said WellHome President Larry Laseter in his remarks before the Senate Committee.

HOME STAR is a market-driven, low-bureaucracy program that would create jobs fast by scaling the existing home energy efficiency improvement industry. HOME STAR would use incentives to spur more Americans to start making their homes more energy efficient. It would establish a $6 billion rebate program to encourage immediate investment in energy-efficient appliances, building mechanical systems and insulation, and whole-home energy efficiency retrofits. Consumers nationwide would embrace HOME STAR because it will be imple, accessible and help them save money.

“We believe the HOME STAR program will deliver both economic and environmental benefits,” said Andrew N. Liveris, Chairman and CEO of The Dow Chemical Company. “Economically, it will stimulate the construction sector, among the hardest hit in the recession, while also giving relief to homeowners, who count energy as their largest cost after their mortgage. HOME STAR has the additional benefit of offering immediate consumer relief through direct rebates rather than tax credits to be accrued in a distant future.”  

“Home Star is an essential step to help Americans save on their energy bills while spurring the creation of good jobs and new industries that drive economic recovery and help our country achieve energy independence,” said Chris Chafe, Executive Director of Change to Win. 

HOME STAR would help to kick-start the comeback of our country’s hard-hit construction industry. It’s estimated the legislation would create 168,000 new jobs in construction and related industries over the next two years. This would have a big impact because one out of four construction workers is currently out of a job. President Obama highlighted HOME STAR’s ability to create jobs for construction workers and contractors during a speech on March 2 while visiting Savannah Technical College in Georgia.

“HOME STAR is the right investment for the country at the right time. Energy efficiency is not a partisan issue, as it helps move us toward greater energy independence and enhances our national security. This program is targeted at the largest marketplace in the country, existing homes, and will be create jobs in a new industry that will thrive for decades,” said Tracy Price, CEO of The Linc Group. 

The HOME STAR Coalition represents over 500 construction contractors, building products and mechanical manufacturers, retail sales businesses, environmental and energy efficiency groups and labor advocates from all 50 states who want to see the job creation and energy savings benefits of federal HOME STAR legislation realized.  A draft of the proposed legislation is on the Senate Energy Committee website.

Window Season is Here

March 7, 2010

As Spring approaches, people start thinking about new windows.  [Actually, replacing windows is possible along winter long without much disruption.]

replacement windows video
Visit the GreenHomes library for videos on replacement windows and other energy-efficiency topics.

Replacing your windows can have a lot of benefits.  Newer windows can boost comfort, reduce maintenance hassle and expense, address lead paint issues, reduce fading of upholstery and carpets, eliminate the need for swapping storm windows and screens twice a year, and the list goes on.  And if you’re replacing you’re windows for any reason, choosing the right energy-efficient window AND installing them properly will help you save energy, too!   Choose the right window–and ENERGY STAR qualification is the minimum standard you should consider–generally windows that significantly exceed ENERGY STAR are readily available (including those that qualify for tax credits) and make a lot of sense.

Note that regarding energy-efficiency, replacing windows is often one of the first things that comes to mind.  The reality is that replacement windows by themselves are using one of the least cost-effective things you can do to save energy–and “payback” can be 20-30 years or more.  Insulation, air-sealing, duct-sealing and lighting usually provide a lot more bang for the buck.  Most window installers probably won’t give you the real story on that!

Replacement windows can make a lot of sense.  They have a host of benefits.  Just make sure you chose the right windows for the right windows.  And go ahead and save some energy while you’re at it.


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