SharePrint RelatedIntroducing Gear Up for Geocaching: More Treasure Than August Can HandleJuly 14, 2013In “Geocaching Weekly Newsletter”Geocaching Plans for July 13 and All of August? You Do Now…July 7, 2013In “Geocaching Quizzes”2020 Geocaching HQ souvenir momentsDecember 10, 2019In “Learn” The official Geocaching Get Outdoors Day souvenir.Congrats! Nearly 88,000 adventurers from around the world gave the couch a rest, and earned this Geocaching Get Outdoors Souvenir on Saturday July 13, 2013.Keep the couch lonely – will you join the global geocaching community for 31 Days of Geocaching starting on August 1?Geocaching HQ is along for the journey for a geocaching streak stretching 31 straight days. Staff from Geocaching HQ will be lining up to find geocaches for each day in August and sharing the adventure here on the blog. And there’s now a way you can share your journey.Be part of 31 Days of Geocaching 1 second at a time. We’re creating the video 31 Days of Geocaching in 31 Seconds. Follow us on Instagram and tag us in your geocaching videos. We’ll chose one second from your Instagram videos each day for August to showcase all of 31 Days of Geocaching.Psst… The final video will look something like this: http://vimeo.com/56599373 (but only 31 seconds, and with geocaching) And don’t forget to log your “Will Attend” to 31 Days of Geocaching on Facebook.Share with your Friends:More
Two points of viewThe simple answer to your question, says Michael Blasnik, is no.“There is no way to figure out the exact savings from a retrofit because we don’t have a perfect parallel version of the world handy where everything else was the same except for the retrofit,” he writes. RELATED MULTIMEDIA What Is a Deep Energy Retrofit? Home Energy Monitoring, Part 1: Knowledge is Power RELATED ARTICLES Added Note by Author (4-7-2011):Can’t believe I missed this one, but Mike Rogers of Green Homes America reminded me that they too, do an energy bill guarantee on their retrofits and have for several years. Blasnik suggests Meulen can get a “fairly good idea” of savings by analyzing energy and weather data, but he adds, “You can’t control for everything in any given home — differences in occupancy, behavior, non-temperature weather (wind, solar gain), and other changes in the building and equipment can all affect the observed savings… By analyzing the energy use of large groups of homes you can learn a lot more about retrofit impacts, but the findings in any one home will always be suspect.”John Klingel, however, is voting an “emphatic” yes to Meulen’s question.“Not down to the gnat’s butt, as you will never get ‘exact’ for anything, anywhere, anyhow,” Klingel says. “But if you can assume that whoever will live there for the next few years will behave like they did in the prior few years, and the weather will generally be what it has been, then all the variables are gone. Is that a fair assumption?“Well, what other options do you have?” Klingel writes. “Does it matter if you are off 5%? That’s your call. Just do a heat analysis with insulation A and insulation B, or whatever A and B you want to compare, and you’ve got a pretty good handle on it. I don’t see any issues with that at all.” Should renovators promise results?These variables raise an interesting question, as suggested by David Meiland. “So,” he asks, “should someone doing an audit for an individual homeowner make projections regarding energy use before and after improvements? Give them payback periods for improvements?”“Consulting professionals of many stripes do this all the time, as do contractors and installers wanting to make a sale,” says James Morgan. “Whether they SHOULD is more a question of ethics than technology, given that nearly all have motivation to err on the optimistic side, sometimes wildly.“I have known energy consultants go so far as to guarantee performance,” he adds, “but (given the multiple variables Michael mentions) this did not prove a sustainable business model.”Blasnik doesn’t see a problem with providing an estimate of energy savings that will result from a retrofit, providing the contractor has a “reasonable method” behind him. “That’s not the same thing as telling people what their bills will be next year,” he says. “The savings are how much less energy they use compared to what they would have used if they didn’t do the retrofit.”“For example, if a household’s heating energy use was $1,000 last year and you install retrofits to reduce that by about $200, that doesn’t mean their energy use will be $800 next year,” Blasnik adds. “It could be that they just had a baby and their heating use would have gone up to $1,100 but instead it’s now $900 — they actually saved $200 but their bills only went down by $100.“In any given home we don’t really know how the energy use would have changed without the retrofit, but across large groups of homes we can generally confirm the impacts of retrofits using evaluation methods.” A ‘self fulfilling prophecy?’The problem with your approach, Blasnik tells Klingel, is that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. “If energy savings don’t meet expectations, you’ll be able to come up with a reason that explains it, and if savings do meet your expectations you’ll be convinced you had it figured out.”But in general, neither the weather nor the habits of the occupants will be the same from year to year. “The differences won’t usually matter that much if you are expecting energy savings of 40% or so, but they will matter quite a bit if you are expecting savings of 20% or less,” Blasnik says. “Energy use tends to change from year to year with a standard deviation of perhaps 10%. Since you are only looking at one house, it limits how strong a conclusion you can make regardless of the results.”Klingel sees Blasnik’s point: namely, that doubling the amount of insulation in a house doesn’t guarantee that next winter’s energy bills will be cut in half.“Certainly, Nature is going to vary and confound/camouflage your results; that’s Nature,” he writes. “But, all that aside, you’ve still got your savings tucked into that variability. It’s still there, whether it shows its face or not. That was my point: The savings will exist, but not necessarily be recognizable year to year. Heat loss is heat loss. Fuel usage, and subsequent variability, is another issue.” Adding more insulation, replacing an inefficient furnace, or performing air-sealing measures are oft-recommended strategies for lowering energy consumption and saving money.Aaron Vander Meulen puts his finger on a key issue, however, when he wonders whether there is a way of determining exactly how much money improvements such as these will save.“Anecdotally, my parents upgraded to a 95% furnace last year, and are seeing the savings, but it would have to be compared to the [heating degree days] for each year, correct? And even at that it’s something of a crap shoot since they have a gas water heater as well? One would need to monitor volume of gas at the furnace, correct? is there any sensor for this?”His question points to the complexity of this seemingly simple question and is the subject of this week’s Q&A Spotlight. Remodel Project: Deep Energy Retrofit Best Construction Details for Deep Energy Retrofits Our expert’s opinionHere’s what Peter Yost, GBA’s technical director, had to say:I have yet to meet a high performance residential remodeler who is happy with an energy modeling program for existing homes. Michael Blasnik has done a lot of great work in this area, demonstrating how frustrating it can be to try to predict the impact of various strategies using existing modeling tools.That said, existing homes give us a starting point lacking in new homes: utility bills. I have used the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Home Energy Saver, , a Web-based tool. The detailed long version requires about 45 minutes to an hour of data entry, and I’ve come within $100 of my total annual energy bills on our own home — pretty amazing. So, we are making progress in this area.But to me the most promising work is in the area of energy bill guarantee programs. For the longest time, I have been telling folks that there are no programs that do energy bill guarantees for remodeled homes — just new ones: Bigelow Homes (the first in the country; they’ve been doing it for more than 20 years now)Artistic HomesComfort HomeTucson Electric PowerBut just a year or so ago, one of my online students in a Boston Architectural College course corrected me: there are in fact TWO programs that guarantee energy bills for gut rehabs or substantial energy improvements: Tucson Electric Power and Masco’s WellHome.I don’t know what sort of energy modeling software each program uses, but the basic approach of all of these programs is to guarantee just the space conditioning loads by using the shoulder seasons to average out a base load (the base load being DHW, appliances, lighting, and plug load).But clearly, taking into account the vagaries of any existing home’s unique energy performance and occupant behaviors can be at least partially deciphered by using the “institutional memory” of the home built in to the utility bill history.
Ironically, here in California – where we pride ourselves on being so advanced from an energy perspective – our energy code has spawned legions who follow the “just pass” mindset. And, greatest of ironies, often among the legions we find even our energy consultants! Even on high-performance projects!On more than one occasion, I’ve found myself in a conversation with one of these guys (or gals) when they’ve said, “No, we can’t do that, it will cost more.” Wait a minute – aren’t you the guy/gal who is supposed to be the most savvy, and most concerned about optimizing energy performance? And maybe first cost isn’t the only thing at stake here?So why does this happen? It happens because this occupation has been beaten down by a steady river of clients whose principal interest in the energy code is scraping by with the bare minimum compliance. This means, as a number of my venerable colleagues have been known to quip, that if they built any more poorly, their homes would be illegal. Yet we can hardly blame those poor, beleaguered energy consultants for their uninspired mindset. Its genesis lies in the code, and in their mainstream, same-old-thing clients. Code cultivates a mindset of compliance, not one of innovation and leadershipFolks in our industry have become accustomed to the unspoken mandate from builders and developers, “I just want the house to pass code at the lowest possible cost.” Instead, as I was harping on last month, everyone on the team should be asking the question, “What’s the most energy-efficient house I can build within budget?” RELATED ARTICLES High-Performance and Net-Zero Homes — Part 1High-Performance and Net-Zero Homes — Part 2High-Performance and Net-Zero Homes — Part 4High-Performance and Net-Zero Homes — Part 5 In California, the code doesn’t incentivize the use of photovoltaics for on-site renewable electricity generationIn general, the highest energy production of photovoltaics (PVs) occurs at times of peak system loading – afternoon and early evening. This is a great benefit to the grid and hence to the state, utilities, and infrastructure as a whole. In the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, for example, there are certain power plants that are only needed at peak demand and therefore only operate for a few hours a year. (Yes, you read that right – a few hours a YEAR.) Needless to say, the cost of those few hours is extraordinarily high, and the power plants reserved for these periods of demand are often the oldest, dirtiest, and least efficient.PV systems have the potential to delay or even eliminate the need for these plants, once widely deployed. And yet Title 24 dings PV homes for electric use – even at their peak production times. Let me explain.Many net-zero and high-performance home projects on which I have worked are also all-electric homes, for the simple reason that the owners want their homes to be fossil fuel-free. They believe that natural gas will become increasingly scarce and expensive, as petroleum has become, and wish their homes to be capable of operating solely on renewable energy. This means that loads like water heating, drying clothes, and cooking are electric rather than gas loads; and some of these loads may be expected to occur at peak.The code-based energy models take this into consideration and accordingly penalize these projects for those loads – in spite of the fact that those same homes may be cranking a very nice surplus amount of electricity from their PV arrays into the grid at exactly the peak time for which the homes are being penalized by the model. Not exactly incentivizing, eh?Furthermore, every unit of electric energy supplied to the grid by a home-based renewable electric system typically represents a hefty multiplier effect, as shown in the illustration.For every single unit of grid-supplied electric energy, roughly 3½ units of fuel energy need to be burned at a power plant (most of the other 2½ units are lost through combustion as waste heat). Correspondingly, 1 unit of energy supplied by an onsite PV array instead of by the grid avoids the need to burn more than 3 units of fuel. (The nationwide average site-to-source multiplier for electric energy is around 3.4.)But the code is blind to this benefit. Go figure. Regulation: friend or foe?So there you have it – my beefs with the energy code. We’re due for a code update soon, though, so hold good thoughts that these things will change.Don’t get me wrong – in general, I’m a proponent of regulating things, stopping environmental problems before they happen. Take the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act: if we don’t let pollution happen, we don’t have to clean it up. If we didn’t let energy waste happen, then we wouldn’t have to worry about climate change or national security. (Maybe. You take my point.) But regulations, as I’ve now presumably persuaded you, have adverse consequences as well as positive ones. We can’t assume that code changes will fix all our problems; we have to remain vigilant, and pull the covers off the problems that codes fail to fix, or that they even create.I hasten to add the footnote that there is much in California’s energy leadership to trumpet, and the code has been instrumental to much of the progress that has been made here. My point is simply that it behooves us to be aware of and to combat the unintended and unfortunate consequences of the energy code(s). Among the takeaways:We need to be discriminating in our selection of energy consultants, ensuring that those we choose to work with are in fact not of the “just-comply” school of thought. Some can be quickly jostled out of that rut; others, not so easily.We need to constantly examine the benefits associated with energy improvements, not just in terms of first cost but also in terms of operating energy savings, comfort improvements, and other non-energy benefits.We need to benchmark our designs against more appropriate “reference homes” – homes that are smaller, more compact, and simpler in form.We need not to be deterred by the blindness of the code to the benefits of what we may be doing in our homes. Just because the code models don’t reflect all those benefits doesn’t mean they’re not worthwhile or valid.And finally, we need to look for opportunities to influence code development for the better, while at the same time understanding that we can’t rely on codes to do our job (of curbing home energy use) for us. During the last month we’ve had a very stimulating conversation going about design – and how some important design opportunities for improving energy performance are often overlooked, and why. The dialogue started here and, thanks to fellow GBA Advisor Bruce King, continued on Facebook.Now to continue the fun, we’re going to look at CODE – specifically, the energy code – and its role in high-performance and net-zero energy homes.You might (understandably) be thinking, “My homes are way above code; where’s the conversation?” And if you’ve been at this energy efficiency thing for a while, there is no conversation. But what’s interesting is how often I see the code getting in the way, particularly for project teams that are relatively new to the arena of high-performance home design. Here’s how. The code turns a blind eye to design decisions that may have substantial influence on energy useIn California (and elsewhere, if I’m not mistaken), energy performance is often expressed as a compliance margin, or “percent above code.” The energy models calculate this percent by comparing the predicted energy use of the home as designed with that of a minimally code-compliant home – i.e., one that incorporates a set of prescriptive energy features mandated for homes in that climate zone (e.g., R-19 walls, R-38 roof, etc.). This minimally code-compliant home is referred to as the “standard reference house.” The standard reference house has the same basic geometry, orientation, and size as the home as designed.The standard reference house may be an energy HOG (meaning no offense to the very intelligent porcine species): poorly oriented, bloated, and excessively complex. This means that energy performance is benchmarked against something that – while it might comply with minimum R-values and so forth – is far, far away from anything that might be considered efficient. So you might design something that is 50 percent more efficient than an energy hog. Well and good. Does that mean it’s truly efficient?Suppose you had started with an inherently more efficient geometry and a more modestly sized home? Ironically, you would find it more challenging to achieve substantial modeled reductions in energy demand; your design would show up as having a lower compliance margin, suggesting that its energy performance is inferior to the hog, when in fact the opposite is true. You would be penalized for having made good decisions from the outset. And worse, there is nothing in the code or the energy models that remotely suggests that the designer might want to tinker with size, geometry, or orientation; these critically important variables are completely ignored by the code and accepted by the models as fait accompli.It’s no surprise, then, that these opportunities also are overlooked by design teams as potentially fruitful avenues to explore when seeking improvements in energy performance. It doesn’t benefit them (as viewed through the eyes of the energy model), even if they were to actually think about it … and they typically don’t.
The amount of time you spend on the very few activities necessary to achieve a goal or a specific outcome is one way to measure how important is the goal, and how serious you are about making it. It is easier to want something than it is to bring that thing to life. More time spent in pursuit of what’s most important is proof that you are willing to do the work necessary to reach your goal. Time spent on things that don’t move you towards what Future You wants, or worse, things that move you further away from your goals, means you are not committed to the outcome. Here is how you never compromise on your goals.Activities Unrelated to Your GoalsTime requires you to choose. If you are not intentional about deciding what to do, you will invariably find yourself caught up in “The Drift,” passively waiting, responding to anything and everything that grabs your attention. Most of what vies for your time will have nothing to do with your goals.The most significant sources of distraction and novelties with the power to pull you into “The Drift,” include your email inbox, the social sites, the things that interest you, and the constant barrage from media designed to capture your intention, mostly with provocative or negative information.Inbox: It is unlikely that what shows up in your inbox has any relevance or value as it pertains to your goals. Most of what you find there are other people’s priorities, their requests, and unbelievably vast amounts of things that provide zero value in trade for your time. What shows up there pulls you in a direction that is almost certain to move you away from the work you need to do to achieve your goal. The overwhelming amount of emails can paralyze you, which is why you should avoid opening your inbox until you have made progress on your goal. The time you spend here is expensive, and it comes at the cost of your goals.Social: The social sites have ushered in a communications revolution, making everyone a content creator at different levels. It has also made each of us more of a content consumer. The sites you frequent most often are designed to keep you on the platform. The more you scroll, the more valuable you are to their business model, a model that depends on you staying online and clicking on advertisements. Welcome to “The Drift,” where one link leads to the next, and you find yourself clicking your way through a more substantial part of your day than would be healthy – at an expense that is much too high.Media: If you care about sports, entertainment, politics, global affairs, or some popular television show, there is no end of options of things that have nothing to do with your goals. Add to this a media that is mostly designed to provoke you, create an emotional response, and capturing your attention, and you have the perfect storm of distractions. Unless you work in media and have goals around these things, the time you spend here to moves you further away from your goals.You can have your goals, or you can have your distractions. You cannot have both.Activities Necessary to Reach Your GoalsBecause time requires you to choose how you will use it, you have the power to decide what you will do, and more importantly, what you will not do with your time. The best decision is to let Future You, the better you that you imagine and are working towards creating, make the decision. Future You is a more disciplined version of yourself, you that wants something more, that is becoming something more.There are very few activities necessary for reaching your goals. These few things must dominate your time. The greater your investment of time, provided you are competent, the more confident you will achieve your goal. You can think of this as a metric we might call “time against goal.”If you want to reach your sales goal, the time spent prospecting and in client meetings is one way to measure your effort, your willingness to do the right work, and the likelihood you reach your goal. Time spent on things that do not produce new opportunities or allow you to win them deprive you of time and move you further away from your goal. One of the most common ways salespeople miss their goal is because they don’t spend enough of their time selling. They don’t sell enough, because they very literally don’t sell enough.If you want better relationships, spending time with the people that matter most is a metric that indicates how important that goal is to you. Communication is easy. Real communication, your full focus and attention, and your presence is more complicated. There may be no bigger gift one can give another than their full presence. If you seek work-life balance, think less in terms of hours and more in terms of hours of presence.Whatever your goals, the work necessary to achieve it needs to dominate your calendar. When you allow something less than your highest priorities, command your time and energy, it takes more time to reach your goals—if you reach them at all.Values-Based DecisionsYour goals require that you make values-based decisions. You have to decide that “this” is better than “that.” All things cannot be equal, and because time requires you to choose, you have to determine your priorities, without which, you will drift.Without clarity about what is most important, you allow everything to come into your world, make demands on your time, your attention, and your energy, while your goals and outcomes go without the time that should be dedicated to what you want, and not what shows up.Everything you decide to do—or not do—should have to pass through filters tight enough to deprive those things that are meaningless while letting through what is critical to what you want in the future. Essential Reading! Get my 3rd book: Eat Their Lunch “The first ever playbook for B2B salespeople on how to win clients and customers who are already being serviced by your competition.” Buy Now