Friday, June 22, 2012

Are You Pro-Active or Re-Active?

Energy Efficiency doesn't mean turning back the thermostat... means Keeping The Heat in the House!

We used to live in really leaky, poorly insulated homes with huge, high output equipment.  The equipment had only one speed, full.   We had a strategy for saving energy - run the equipment as little as possible. 

This was a good strategy.  Heat quickly left the house, so the less you heated the less that left.  Also, over sized single output equipment is able to run more efficiently if it has an opportunity to run for a while. That opportunity occurred when it had to heat the house way up. 

The new strategy is keep the equipment running, matching the building loss, and allowing modern modulating equipment to run at optimum efficiency ALL THE TIME.   

Technology has provided equipment that can modulate output to match the losses or load on the house like you modulate the burner on your stove.   

This new technology requires a new strategy for saving energy.  This new paradigm is the polar opposite of the old strategy, which means it's counter-intuitive, contradicting long held beliefs.  Instead of full off or full on, the equipment gently adjusts up or down to match the need.  

Also, we no longer heat the neighborhood.  We have tighter, better insulated homes.  So lowering temperature doesn't save much, if anything, because it's not cutting losses the way it used to.  In fact, now it may cost energy as the equipment has to go to full throttle for recovery thereby reducing condensing efficiencies. 

Equipment eventually wears out.  Unfortunately most people are not pro-active when it comes to equipment replacement.  Good design and decisions are not accomplished at 2 am on the coldest night of the year when the furnace finally quits for good. 

HOW CAN YOU BE PROACTIVE?  First Step - get your energy history.  

Our houses require a certain amount of heat which usually doesn't vary much from year to year (unless weatherization occurs). There are a number of ways to determine annual gas usage:
  1. Call gas company and ask.
  2. Login to your account and get usage history. (Click HERE for RGE)
  3. Look at current meter read, then look at year ago meter read from a bill and subtract.
  4. Go to the chart in a recent bill and look at each month.  With a straight edge roughly determine the usage and write it down.  Add 12 months usage together.
If you have problems calculating you annual usage feel free to send me your bills and I will try to help.

Next Step:  Get a Comprehensive Home Assessment.

If you'd like to understand your savings opportunity before hand, All you need to know is your heating fuel type, annual amount used, and your homes square footage.  

If you don't know your annual consumption but you do know your annual cost, here's a very basic rule of thumb for determining your energy savings opportunity and if we should schedule a free energy visit.  Based upon past experience:
  • I REALLY WANT TO SEE YOU if you heat with Natural Gas and spend more than $1.00 per square foot per year.  (Oil, Propane, or Electric the number is roughly double)
  • I AM HAPPY TO SEE YOU if you spend $.50 to $1.00
  • I WILL COME TO SEE YOU if you spend less than $.50, but you are either freezing or your house is already fairly efficient.  I hope there are comfort or durability issues you want to address.  Please don't expect miracles when it comes to saving money on energy.
Most people’s single largest energy expense is heating their homes, this also means this is most peoples biggest opportunity for savings.  

And Remember - Equipment that runs gently and continuously is like your car on the highway, running lots of miles with very little fuel.   In the end, every house is different.   You can't know what really saves unless you track behavior and savings. 

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Applying for your FREE (or Low Cost) Energy Audit

Ok, so you've taken the 3 step test or some other way decided a free audit is worth the effort.  Your energy opportunity is appealing, your energy cost is higher than you'd like, comfort could be improved, and/or there is some other issue you would like to address...

Good news!  The application is amazingly simple too!  Assuming you got your energy history from the Opportunity MEASUREMENT STEP, you just have a one page application to complete.

CLICK HERE for the Home Performance Free or Reduced Cost Audit Application and select either "APPLY ONLINE" or "DOWNLOAD APPLICATION".

*****   If you would like us to automatically contact you to schedule the audit once you get approval, check the contractor check box and put CSG@EESNY.COM on the e-mail line at the bottom.

This is what the form looks like (May 2012):

Again, CLICK HERE for the Audit Application. 

*****   If you would like us to automatically contact you to schedule the audit once you get approval, check the contractor check box and put CSG@EESNY.COM  on the e-mail line at the bottom.

Next, scan and send the application to  The audit approval office really has their act together, you'll hear back from them usually within 2-3 days.

FREE or LOW COST?  WHAT'S THIS COST? - It depends upon your family income.  In MONROE COUNTY if your income is below $137,400 the audit is free. 

And if you include  CSG@EESNY.COM on the contractor line, I'll get notified too.  You can simply wait for my phone call.

If you need help, feel free to get in touch with me.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

How High ARE My Energy Bills? - A simple measurement tool

  1. GET ONE YEAR ENERGY HISTORY - it's easy if you have a cheat sheet.  CLICK HERE to see screen shots of the steps to getting energy history at RGE.COM or NYSEG
  2. STEP ON AN ENERGY SCALE - it's just 2 numbers and clicking a button if you have energy history. 
  3. DECIDE IF FURTHER EFFORT IS WARRANTED - it's easy.  Decide if your home has a big enough savings opportunity to warrant applying for the free audit program.  (not really free, you've already paid for it out of RPS and SBC charges on your energy bill.  So, you are paying for an audit whether you take advantage of it or not).  
Less than 15 minutes, right?  

If you feel further effort IS warranted, apply for an audit, which may take another 15 minutes.  
CLICK HERE:  It's a one page application.  

(I am always looking for ways to simplify and clarify the information I provide.  If you have comments or suggestions, please "Post a Comment" at the bottom or send me a note.


Not clear? Visualize what the 3 step measurement process looks like:

STEP 1.  GET ONE YEAR ENERGY HISTORY.  Here's what mine looks like:

(Click on image to shuttle quickly through images)

You can add these number by hand, or cut and paste to Excel to come up with annual consumption.  (You can also cut and paste this to the email that you attach your free audit application to, as they want documentation of energy use.) 

You'll also need your home's square footage.  IF you don't know this number you can find it on ZILLOW

STEP 2.  STEP ON SCALE:  Take your annual consumption and square footage and enter into the ENERGY SCALE:

Here you see the annual usage and square footage entered,

Next click Calculate and....

YOUR Opportunity will

STEP 3.  SEE WHAT YOUR OPPORTUNITY MEANS: Below is how I've classified the various pop-ups:

Again, NEXT: 
 If you feel further effort IS warranted, apply for an audit, which may take another 15 minutes.   It's a one page application.  

Ever wonder; "How much am I wasting UNNECESSARILY and WHERE IS IT GOING?"  

STEP 4.  SIGN UP FOR FREE ENERGY AUDIT PROGRAM - it's easy.   It's a one page application.  

If you feel further effort IS warranted, that your house has attractive opportunity for energy savings or comfort improvement, the next small bite is apply for an audit, which may take another 15 minutes:
  1. SIGN UP FOR FREE ENERGY AUDIT PROGRAM - it's easy.   It's a one page application.  Now you have your energy history and know your home has opportunity that meets your cost effectiveness criteria.  Download the PDF and it's "fillable".  

DONE!  Now you have claimed your $250-$400 energy audit.  Actually, reclaimed RPS and SBC charges you've paid in to the system on your utility bill.  


Line up the financing.  It's a good idea to get this step started now.  You have nothing to lose and understanding your options here will be really important later.  (Many people find putting this off leads to disappointment and back-tracking.)

The audit opens the door for additional incentives available for funding repairs and improvements through the NY Home Performance with Energy Star program.  Please contact me if you have any questions!