Monthly Archives: August 2013

What Tools do you carry in your Tool kit?

I have all sorts of small items in mine; a list would include flashlight,  screwdriver, hammer, tape measures, wrenches, my blower door and infrared imaging camera.  Plus a bunch of flashlights. Yep!  A bunch of flashlights.  I like those everywhere, usually two at a time.flashlights

What kind of tools do you carry?

furnaceAn HVAC Tech might have the first part of my list, and a set of pressure gauges and thermometers instead of my specialized equipment.  Yes, I don’t really need his specialized equipment.

An Install Tech for an Insulation Company would probably have the general stuff and some specialized tools like an insulation blower, staple guns, and an air compressor.

Yes, the work you do requires certain tools. Most tools are fairly general and found in almost everyone’s tool kit, some are specialized to the work we do.

Now that I have pointed out the obvious, everyone maybe wondering why I’m thinking about tools and home performance. So lets connect the dots a little.

First, what happens if you get to the job and you can’t find a screw driver?  It has happened to me more than once!  I just hate that!  How many knife blades have we broken on our pocket knives when we find ourselves in that position?  We still have a job to do and the wrong tool takes longer, sometimes with banged knuckles.

What happens when the products or services we provide to our customers, can perhaps meet their need, like the blade on a pocket knife, but do not meet the need like a screwdriver?  That is the position many in the building performance are find themselves in.  They have a customer that is uncomfortable in their own home or a business with uncomfortable employees and customers.  How does the management design a solution for their techs to implement and thus satisfy their customer, making them comfortable again.  As a business, we each try to provide the solution to the customer from our stock.  That is how we get paid. You don’t pay the mechanic that fixes your car, when the plumbing needs to be fixed.  You pay the plumber, after the drain works again.

So you have a room that is Hot in the Summer and Cold in the winter?  Who do you call and what solution do the problem do you implement?Insulation Blown

If you call a Heating / Cooling contractor, they have equipment on the shelf, probably not insulation. So you will have a proposal to change your equipment for bigger units or perhaps to add a unit. The proposal will certainly involve equipment.  After all, if your mid size car gets you to the store, a larger car will get you there with more comfort.  Would you expect your HVAC contractor to recommend insulation?

What is the actual answer to to your comfort situation? Larger equipment with more punch or some insulation?  What if your solution does not involve either equipment or insulation?

Now we are back to the tools of our Trades!  What tools do you have?  Equipment, Insulation, Air Sealing, Windows?  The solutions you provide must involve the tools of your trade. That is why a savvy homeowner might consult with more than one contractor.  That is a great argument for savvy contractors to partner with contractors and others that work on changing the energy use in your home or business. Why should a good contractor limit themselves to providing only part of the solution.

Air SealingThis is happening in many areas of the country.  Contractors are partnering with others in their area to build home performance teams. There are contractors in Wichita that are moving in this direction.  I think that is great!

Deciding on the measures that will solve your comfort concerns, while bringing down your energy costs, involves a team that includes all of the contractors and a Energy Specialist that does not have a product on the shelf to sell you. The ability to recommend, without having a financial interest in the products, has been valued by many home owners. An Audit by Efficient Energy Savers, provides you with the independence in evaluation, and recommendations needed to get the answer you are actually looking for.

 

Comments on The Previous Post

A few minutes ago, I posted a Press Release on changes to the 2015 Energy Codes.  If you read the list of groups supporting this change, you will find me listed.

Energy Codes have been in existence since 1992. They require levels of insulation, other energy efficient features and address how these items are installed.  There have been adjustments to them over the years. As the cost of electricity and other forms of energy rise, increasing the levels of insulation makes financial sense. As companies develop new products, for example the green sheathing used on many new homes in the Wichita area.

Wichita / Sedgwick County have not chosen to adopt an Energy Code. There is no legal requirement to build a home or building in Wichita and install insulation.

I support this change in the enforcement of codes because it is a ‘Free Market’ approach to the problem.

When people hear a home can be legally built with no insulation, they are very surprised.  Their expectation is that government requires that.  When my daughter was looking at buying a home in 2007-08; I heard one builder’s sales person tell her: “We build Energy Efficient Homes! We used to put R-19 in the attic; now with put R-25! That is Energy Efficient!”  Yet, the recommended code at that time for Wichita called for R-38 in the attic.

A ‘Free Market’ has been defined as the price a willing and informed seller and a willing and informed buyer agree upon!  I think that is important, to have willing and informed sellers and buyers.

If you don’t have an informed buyer; you can’t have a free market.  Consumers want something they value, if they are informed, they can make a decision that meets their needs. It may be a different decision than you would make with the same information.

This proposal would allow a builder to choose to add extra insulation to a home or to install more efficient equipment to his home as they choose to meet or exceed the competition.

This proposal allows a local government to require a level of energy performance from new homes. It allows the builder to decide how he wants to achieve that level. It doesn’t not require the local government to hire any additional inspectors or add training to existing inspectors.

When you look at buying a car, you can look at the Mileage Sticker on the window.  You may or may not use that in your final decision.  With this in the code, you can look at the sticker on the electrical box.  Then you can choose to use it or not use it in your decision.

A few years from now, when a new home is resold, the sticker will be there. Consumers can look at it and make informed decisions again.

Disclosure:  Yes,  part of our business is to Rate Homes for Energy Efficiency! This proposal if adopted by local governments could increase business.  It would also spur competition. It would not stop a home builder from training one of his employees to Rate his homes.  It would not stop an independent group, for example the Builders Association, from training someone and offering Ratings services to their members. It would not stop Energy Related Subcontractors from training an employee and offering Ratings to their customers.

The Press Release with links is found HERE

Builders and Efficiency Advocates Reach New Homes Energy Code Change Agreement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Press contact: Chris Potter, (202) 525-2883 x. 311, chris@imt.org

Builders and Efficiency Advocates Reach New Homes Energy Code Change Agreement ?Efficiency Rating System Proposal Would Lead to the Largest Triennial Energy Use Reduction in U.S. History

WASHINGTON (August 21, 2013) – Three energy efficiency proponents interested in stronger and more cost-effective residential energy codes have reached an unprecedented agreement with the Leading Builders of America, which represents almost 40 percent of the new single-family home market, to support a proposal that could save homebuyers about $850 annually and give builders greater flexibility to meet energy-saving targets.

Today’s announcement by the Leading Builders of America (LBA), Institute for Market Transformation (IMT), Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Britt/Makela Group comes in advance of next week’s (Aug. 26) publication of proposals to be considered by the International Code Council (ICC) in October, when code officials vote on proposed changes to the 2015 edition of the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).

Duke Energy, Air Conditioning Contractors of America, Insulate America, and Masco Home Services have signed on in support of the agreement, along with almost 90 other utilities, custom home builders, energy efficiency service providers, homeowner warranty providers, and other organizations from around the country. (To see the full list of supporters, click here).

“This agreement is an example of what can be accomplished when diverse groups work together to achieve a common goal. The result in this case will benefit literally hundreds of thousands of homeowners for decades to come,” said Steve Hilton, Chairman and CEO of Phoenix-based Meritage Homes and chair of LBA’s Energy Working Group.

The groups are supporting standards to reduce energy use in new homes by about 20 percent in 2015, taking energy efficiency to a new level and representing one of the largest triennial reductions ever under the U.S. model building energy code. The agreement gives builders the ability to use a “whole house” approach known as an Energy Rating Index (ERI), which is a consumer-friendly benchmark that will allow buyers to estimate annual energy savings and compare efficiencies between homes in each of the eight U.S. climate zones.

 

“This is the first time that the nation’s foremost home builders—both large and small—have joined forces with efficiency advocacy organizations in support of stronger building energy codes,” said David Goldstein, co-director of NRDC’s Energy Program. “This shows that builders are responding to what new homebuyers want – houses that use less energy while keeping their occupants comfortable and saving them money on utility bills.”

Under the agreement, builders who select the Energy Rating Index option would meet specific mandatory envelope and hot water (such as pipe insulation) requirements, but have the flexibility to achieve the target ERI by the most cost-effective means available. One of the most common examples of an energy rating index is the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) administered by the Residential Energy Services Network. Over the past three years, “Certified Home Energy Raters” have used the index to estimate energy consumption of well over one-third of the new homes built. LBA reports this type of approach would add only $1,300 to the cost of a typical new home compared to $3,000 for meeting the current prescriptive standard.

If the ICC adopts the code change proposal (RE188) as part of the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), the HERS Index system could be used to assess compliance. The updated code would save utility customers an estimated $300 annually for a typical new house compared to the 2012 IECC, which has been adopted in only a few jurisdictions, or $850 compared to the widely used 2006 IECC.

“This would be a win-win for both builders and the people who buy new homes,” said Ryan Meres, IMT’s Code Compliance Specialist. “By using this simpler, consumer-friendly rating system, a homebuyer can understand the efficiency of the house and compare House A to House B. Meanwhile, this also would give builders more flexibility in meeting market demand for more energy-efficient living.”

For more information, see David Goldstein’s blog  or download the fact sheet.

I have written some comments in a subsequent post on the Blog, you can read here!