ThermalStar - Phoenix AZ

ThermalStar - Phoenix AZ

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Class Warfare in the Green World

Solar War in the Desert – T.U.S.K. vs K.O.C.H 

A politically, economically and Racially charged marketing campaign has popped up in the debate over solar power in AZ, and it might be funded indirectly by Arizona Public Service Co., the company asking regulators to force new solar customers to pay significantly more on their monthly bills.
APS has asked state energy regulators to change the rules for how electric companies give solar customers credit for the electricity they send to the power grid.
Solar companies months ago began their own marketing campaign to fight the proposed changes, which they see as a threat to the residential rooftop solar industry. By adding $50 to $100 a month to solar customers’ bills, the changes would take away much of the financial incentive for using solar.
Fairness = ?
Funding for the ad campaign has been linked (somewhat) to The Koch brothers. Now, this is the true definition of "Strange Bedfellows".  The Koch brothers supporting "Fairness" and opposing Barry Goldwater Jr. and the SunCity crowd. (Insert Tea Party here) I can hear Will Farrell's script writers laughing now. 

TUSK (aka Tell Utilities Solar Won't Be Killed) says, ...Arizona Public Service wants to extinguish the independent rooftop solar market in Arizona to protect its monopoly. How? They want to eliminate the policy that lets homeowners get fair credit for the surplus power they return to the grid. This is called net metering and it’s successful in 43 states. APS wants the Arizona Corporation Commission to change the rules so the utility can keep homeowners’ excess solar energy for free while maintaining its monopoly status.

The Synopsis - 
1. Yes, APS and every other Utility wants to re-write the rules that they agreed to. 
2. Because, as more and more people get roof top solar the deal (Incentive) is costing them $$$
3. Who has Solar Panels?  Rich White People
4. Who doesn't have Solar?  Everyone that lives in Guadalupe, ... and you know who I mean. 
5. The Truth is, ... Everyone that does not have Roof Top Solar Panels are in fact subsidizing those that Do. - Rich White People

Keep an Eye on this Battle, ...  It will have National Implications. 

Have's vs. Have Not's -

Monday, May 23, 2011

TEP program to offer expert home-energy inspections for ONLY $99.00!!

ThermalStar has trained nearly all of the BrightSave Auditors.  We are hosting another "Live" BPI Building Analyst class in Tucson on June 6th.  Sign Up Now!

Is your home's ductwork so leaky you're basically air-conditioning your attic? That old clothes dryer so power-hungry it's shrinking your bank account?
Hunting down these energy vampires can save you real money, but hiring professionals to pinpoint potential energy savings can cost several hundred dollars.
TEP today is launching BrightSave Home, a program offering homeowners "personalized home energy assessments" at the cut-rate price of $99.
It's part of TEP's effort to comply with a state mandate that the power company achieve energy-efficiency savings of 22 percent by 2020.
Here's a look at the program:
Energy-saving audits
BrightSave Home offers TEP customers home energy audits by representatives of Conservation Services Group (CSG), a long-established energy-efficiency consulting firm under contract to TEP. The CSG auditors are certified by the Building Performance Institute.  **Trained by ThermalStar
During an energy analysis, energy experts will perform interior and exterior evaluations of ductwork, mechanical systems, appliances, attic insulation and air leakage. They also will survey homeowners and recommend behavioral changes to cut energy use.
Personalized reports
The program's personalized reports will list recommended home improvements and their estimated costs, along with details about available incentives, like rebates, annual savings and how long it will take to recover the cost of each improvement through lower energy bills.
The program website provides contact information for contractors certified in energy-efficiency improvements.
Participants also will get a home energy-savings kit that includes the installation of up to 10 compact fluorescent lights in high-traffic areas and a "smart power strip" that stops idle power consumption by automatically shutting off after appliances are no longer in use.
Big savings possible
While the audit and the energy-savings kit are valued at more than $300, TEP is using funds provided through an existing customer surcharge to make them available for $99.
Rebates for improvements include up to $900 for replacement of older heating and cooling systems and up to $650 for duct sealing (certain eligibility rules apply).
Participating customers may be able to cut their power usage by up to 35 percent by following the recommendations of the energy experts, TEP said.
Surcharge funds program
The program is subsidized by a surcharge on customer bills for so-called demand-side management, in an effort to save energy and power-plant costs over the long term.
The surcharge costs the average TEP residential customer about $1.10 a month, the utility said.
Getting started
Customers interested in scheduling a BrightSave Home energy analysis can get started by visiting or by calling 1-855-870-0050.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Home Energy Score Card is Here!

Biden unveils plan to score homes for energy efficiency

U.S. homeowners will be able to get low-cost energy audits that rank a home's efficiency on a scale of one to 10 and get federally insured loans for upgrades, under an Obama administration plan to be announced today.
With the new Home Energy Score, consumers will find out how their home compares with others and how much money they could save by adding insulation, sealing air leaks or doing other upgrades. Nine U.S. communities will test the score, similar to a miles-per-gallon label for cars, before it's rolled out nationally next summer.
"Together, these programs will grow the home retrofit industry and help middle-class families save money and energy," says Vice President Biden, who plans to unveil the initiative at a meeting of his Middle Class Task Force.
Follow ThermalStar  on Twitter.  "This is the kind of program that could go viral," says Jared Bernstein,? executive director of the task force, noting there are tens of millions of old U.S. homes. He says it will take time, however, to get it going.
U.S. officials expect that the audits, to be done by trained contractors, will cost less than half of current private ones, which often exceed $350, because of their streamlined approach.
Consumers will be able to seek up to $25,000 in federally insured, PowerSaver loans at or below market rates. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development expects up to 24,000 households will qualify for loans averaging $12,500 during the two-year pilot program, which starts early next year.
"These steps could make a big difference," especially the loans, in spurring retrofits, says Alex Wilson,? executive editor of Environmental Building News. He says many homeowners fear they "won't be able to keep up" if energy costs rise again.
The energy score "is not a silver bullet" but a needed tool to educate consumers, says Stephen Cowell,? CEO of Conservation Services Group, which manages retrofit programs in two dozen states.
To trim energy use, consumers first have to know how much they use and be given incentives as well as feedback, according to a report earlier this month by the private American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.
The new initiative is part of the Obama administration's broader efforts to boost home energy efficiency. Its Recovery Act program to weatherize nearly 600,000 low-income homes by March 2012, however, was criticized earlier this year by the Department of Energy's inspector general for moving too slowly. Biden has said the program picked up its pace this year and has already retrofitted more than 200,000 U.S. homes.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Vice President Biden to Announce "Home Energy Score Program"!

The Vice President will announce the Obama Administration's Recovery Through Retrofit Program this morning.
A key item is the U.S. Department of Energy's Home Energy Score Program.  I have had a number of meeting with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on the Home Energy Score.  The score is not a rating.  It is rather a survey tool that will give homes a score from 1 to 10.  The Home Energy Score will be driven by the software program Home Energy Pro that is developed by LBL.  DOE envisions that the tool will be used by home inspectors, contractors or low income weatherization auditors.  The agency will require that persons having access to the tool will have to be certified by RESNET or BPI.  It is envisioned that the tool will be used by the Home Energy Survey Professionals on the RESNET side.  The program is not ready to be released nationally.  DOE plans to have a number of pilot programs initially.  It is not cleat when DOE expects to release the program nation wide.
Below is the section of the news release from the White House on the Home Energy Score Program:
Home Energy Score program:  DOE has developed a voluntary new Home Energy Score program that will help homeowners make cost-effective decisions about home energy improvements.  Trained and certified contractors will be able to use a newly developed energy software tool to generate:
  • A Home Energy Score between 1 and 10, which will be presented as part of a simple graphic that will help homeowners understand their home’s current efficiency level and how it compares to other homes in the area.
  • An estimate of how much money could be saved by making energy retrofits.
  • A personalized list of recommended improvements, with estimated annual savings and an estimated payback period for each upgrade.
DOE will launch the Home Energy Score this fall through a pilot program in select regions across the country before making the voluntary program available everywhere.  For those pilots in rural areas, USDA Rural Development will partner with DOE and rural electric cooperatives to increase participation and improve home energy efficiency in rural America.  To see a sample Home Energy Score, click on

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Columbia, Missouri - Newly proposed energy efficiency codes meet opposition

COLUMBIA — Home builders would be required to have ventilation systems tested in new homes under energy-related changes in the building code going before the Columbia City Council.
The Columbia/Boone County Environment and Energy Commission wants the city to require testing of ductwork used in home heating and air conditioning systems to identify leaks and other problems that affect energy use.
Options considered by the Environment and Energy C

 The Environment and Energy Commission considered these three options as an alternative to the one they recommend to the Columbia City Councilconsidered these four options in determining its recommendation:
  1. Adopt Energy Star rating standards.Adopt Chapter 11 of the International Residential Building Codes, which is the commission’s recommendation.?
  2. Adopt Chapter 11 of the International Residential Building Codes with special modifications. The modifications are a compromise the commission is willing to make with the Buildings Codes Commission.
  3. AdoptConsider an alternative compliance standard other than Chapter 11 of the International Residential Building Codes.

In making the recommendation, the commission cited studies from other states that indicated leaking ventilation ducts are a major cause of excessive energy use in new homes.
The commission reviewed studies of home energy audits in Colorado, Massachusetts and Washington that found new ventilation systems wasted up to three-fourths of heated and cooled airflow passing through duct work.
"We have assessed many homes with significant duct leakage,” said Chris Ihler of Energy Link, a business in Columbia that performs home energy assessments. “If this (recommendation) does pass, it will weed out contractors with poor practices."
The commission wants the city to adopt an energy code that's contained in the International Residential Building Codes, which includes the testing of ventilation ducts for leakage.
Other parts of the code address:
  • Climate zone specific insulation and an air-tight structure requirement.
  • Proper insulation for water piping and ductwork.
  • Properly sized heating and cooling equipment.
  • 50 percent of permanently installed lighting fixtures being high-efficiency lamps.
Commission chairman Dan Goldstein, in a report to the City Council up for review on Tuesday night, recommended the city adopt the energy code as "the optimum balance between savings and expense for the city and the consumer, and because it is in the best interest of the citizens of Columbia."
Goldstein's report notes the standards have been adopted by "many cities across the country" and yield an 11.6 percent savings in energy costs over the 2006 energy code.
In his report, Goldstein noted the Building Codes Commission was opposed to requiring tests of heating and air conditioning ductwork for leaks due to increased costs to builders that would be passed to home buyers.
The Environment and Energy Commission, however, "believes these costs would be paid back in energy savings to the consumer and would be a good investment for the buyer of the house as well as for the community," Goldstein wrote.
"Everything costs money, but there could be a large payback," he said.
Terry Freeman of the city Water and Light Department said conserving electricity helps lower overall demand and could reduce the need for additional power plants, which would otherwise increase electrical rates for everyone.
"It's cheaper to buy efficiency from consumers instead of paying to generate electricity," he said.
The commission also included energy-related changes it would be willing to compromise in order to keep the duct testing intact. These items have minimal effects on the overall code.
They include:
  • Proper insulation in basements with heat and air conditioning.
  • Using a lighting fixture that can safely come in contact with insulation instead of sealed fixtures.
  • Lifting the requirement for builders to pre-set programmable thermostats in new homes, which would maintain reasonable temperatures between 55 and 85 degrees.
  •  A recommendation, rather than requirement, that 50 percent of permanently installed lighting fixtures are high-efficiency lamps
The Burns and McDonnell consulting firm in 2008 listed improved building code standards as the second highest priority for the city to help reduce the demand for electricity.
The City Council will consider the report at its meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Florida Keeps Cool with Energy Saving Air Conditioning!

Starting Monday, Florida homeowners who buy Energy Star central air conditioners can qualify for a $1,500 rebate.
The state will issue $15 million in rebates for new energy efficient air conditioners bought between now and Dec. 31 -- or earlier if the money runs out. The money, enough for about 10,000 rebates, is from the federal stimulus law passed in early 2009.
Rebates will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis.
Items that qualify include new central air conditioners, air source heat pumps and geothermal heat pumps that meet the standards required for a federal tax credit of up to $1,500. Single-room or window units are not eligible for rebates. They were included in an appliance rebate program earlier this year.
To qualify for the rebate, buyers must have their homes' duct systems tested. The results must show that leaks to the outside aren't more than 15 percent -- or repairs will be required to reduce the leakage.
The state estimates that about 12 percent of Florida homes won't qualify because their air conditioner duct systems can't be accessed for repair. Duct testing must be done by a Florida Class 1 rater, Florida licensed mechanical contractor or recognized test and balance agent.
Requests for rebates must include the application form, a copy of the receipt for the new unit with the make and model clearly identified, a copy of the mechanical building permit issued by a municipality for replacement of the system, a copy of the first page of the ACCA Manual J program and a copy of the Air Distribution Test System Report that shows a leakage score of 0.10 Qn.out or less
Only Florida residents are eligible for the rebates.
Rebates will be issued as American Express Prepaid Cards, which will never expire or have monthly fees. The cards can be exchanged for checks or an electronic deposit.
The rebates can be combined with manufacturer rebates, electric company rebates and a federal tax credit of 30 percent of the price of qualifying model, up to $1,500.