Thursday, February 25, 2010

PETER & SHELLY, June 2009 completion, February 2010 (customer projection), "36% reduction"

Pete and Shelly have a home built in 1998.  They had some temperature control issues and rodent/insect issues that were frustrating them, but because of the home's age they initially had reservations that solutions were justifiable.   

Their master suite comprises the East side of the second floor, so it gets some pretty good solar load in the morning.  Keeping the master suite comfortable so Shelly could get ready for work without feeling like she was just back from a morning jog was a challenge.  Pete found himself programming the dining room thermostat to drop to 62 at around 5:30 am to make the master suite comfortable in the morning.

Eventually, exasperated, they hired us to perform a comprehensive home assessment.  We uncovered some significant but all to common deficiencies that were contributing dramatically to their comfort and control challenges.

From the assessment I was able to build a list of recommendations with varying degrees of comfort, control, and energy reward.  Working with Peter we developed a plan that fit their needs.  Before going into the plan, let me share an e-mail Peter sent me February 24th, 2010:

Just doing some crappy calculations going from actual to actual reads (July to January)...
08/09 energy costs $1435 vs 09/10 $910. I used the same pricing for each period. Last read was 1/25/10. Next actual will be around 3/25/10 for a full Winter picture.

KEN & KAREN, February 2009 completion. February 2010 Results, 40% gas reduction - warmer house

Ken & Karen don't like to be wasteful.  When Jimmy Carter said good Americans should conserve energy and set their thermostat's back, they took it to heart.  They keep their thermostat at 68 and wear sweaters around the house. 

Many of their neighbors have been replacing their furnaces with outdoor "packaged" or "rooftop" units.  Ken and Karen were looking into doing the same as they were tired of the noise of their 17 year old 84,000 BTU Miller furnace, which they knew should be replaced soon anyhow.

When I suggested there might be a more energy efficient approach, they were keenly interested.  

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

LIZ, November 2008 completion, May 2009 review, 71% savings

Liz's house is in East Rochester's historic Comcrest neighborhood.  She had a really leaky attic and 20+ year old oil furnace, gas water heater so full of sediment she ran out of water before filling her tub, no bath fan, and an improperly vented dryer which caused high clothes drying time.  

The cost per unit of heat for Oil is significantly higher than the cost for heat in Natural Gas, so this situation represented a fairly rare grand slam:

  • Homeowner income qualification for 50/50 incentive; total outlay reduction.
  • Furnace was Oil; savings opportunity and easy SIR qualification for 50/50 (furnace, 98% efficient water heater, 3 windows, bath fan, and dryer vent improvements were all able to meet SIR and qualify for incentive).
  • RG&E incentive for converting from oil to gas; total outlay reduction.
  • Equipment was old and would need replacement anyhow; no accelerated depreciation necessary.
  • Equipment was over sized and inefficient; savings and comfort opportunity.
  • Natural gas billing charge already; billing convenience & economy to scale opportunity.
  • House needed a new roof; adding spray foam to roof job offered job scale savings opportunity. 

There were some challenges to performing the financial analysis.  Since Oil was the energy source and the oil company did not fill on a regular basis it was somewhat difficult to determine annual BTU usage.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Why homeowners should be cautious of FREE AUDITS

(-or- Why homeowners should PAY for an AUDIT)
After November 15, 2010 New Yorkers can get audits paid for by the Green Jobs Green NY program.  This means the contractor gets paid to perform this work.  

Prior to this some companies offered "Free Audits."  These Free audits aren't free.  Your home is a long term investment for you, not the contractor.  A free audit puts pressure on selling product, not on good design.  


if you pay for it you can hold them accountable to deliver quality recommendations, not simply recommend work they want to perform.



Homeowners should hire someone to perform an audit because they can build a relationship and accountability into the equation.  They can expect thoughtful solutions instead of shotgunned products.  

Also, they can hold that contractor accountable for doing a thorough job. 

A little history might help paint this picture: