There are many skills that are shared by both home inspectors and energy auditors, and in fact many professionals are fully trained and certified in both of these fields. But for many who are looking for a career change, or to add a new service to their current business, it’s not clear what the difference is. Kaplan Clean Tech and Kaplan Real Estate have put our heads together to provide this information in a simply, easy to understand way.
When you consider that home appliances like refrigerators, dishwashers and laundry machines account for about 13% of your home energy costs, it only makes sense to take a close look at their efficiency. High-efficiency appliances like those with Energy Star ratings not only save money in the long run, but they also benefit the environment. Case in point: In 2010, Americans saved enough power with their Energy Star-rated appliances to prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 33 million cars, which also equaled about $18 billion in utility bill savings.
Energy Star-rated appliances can have higher price tags than their standard counterparts, but you must consider the dollars you’ll save over the lifetime of the appliance, which, in most cases, more than makes up for the initial cost increase.
What is Energy Star? Read the rest of this entry »
For locals participating in the Pecan Street Demonstration in Austin’s suburban town of Mueller, TX, residential carbon footprint data is about as available as square footage. Their home utility consumption is monitored by the Pecan Street Research Institute at The University of Texas-Austin as part of the institute’s efforts to understand how individuals can lower their collective carbon impact and use energy more efficiently. This new technology, known as a smart grid system, has proven to be much more efficient than the traditional electrical grid used throughout the US. However, smart grids and the smart meters used to track energy usage of individual homes have come under fire for their ‘invasiveness’ as people have vocalized concerns about the lack of privacy that could accompany this advanced monitoring system. Fortunately for the anti-smart meter crowd, there are other ways to make a community more energy efficient.
Even though one of the biggest complaints from homeowners is high energy costs, convincing them of the value of a home energy audit can still be a challenge. The audit is quick and painless, typically involving the use of infrared cameras and blower doors, and the findings in regards to the home’s energy efficiency can be addressed to drastically reduce electric bills. Pinpointing the problem is really the most reliable, efficient way to cut excess spending on utilities.
What is a home energy audit, anyway?
With the cost of energy increasing at a steady rate, and the promise of record breaking summer heat looming in the near future, the time has come for consumers to think of effective and innovative ways to save money on their utility bills.
The most reliable way to reduce excess spending on energy is to get an energy audit performed on your home. If you’re thinking about getting an energy audit, it is important to ensure that the person auditing your home has received their BPI certification and is knowledgeable about the ins and outs of home energy auditing. In some cases, homeowners can get a free energy audit by contacting their utilities company. Summer can be a hectic time and booking a home energy audit may not be at the top of your to-do list. So until you can schedule an audit, check out this simple suggestion for cutting back on your cost of utilities.
One small change that can have a massive impact is switching the bulbs in your house to energy efficient Compact Fluorescent Lamps, or CFLs. In addition to saving money on home energy bills, CFLs are also better for the environment than standard incandescent bulbs as they pull less electricity from power grids and in turn require less output, and pollution from power plants.
Since their market introduction in the mid 80s, CFLs have been a widely debated topic in the lighting and home improvement fields as consumers voiced concerns about installing CFLs in their homes and offices as the bulbs contain trace amounts of mercury. Bulb manufacturers took notice and responded to the criticisms and concerns through a well developed series of technological improvements, and safe recycling methods. CFLs have come a long way since their introduction, and the future of this energy efficient lighting source is looking bright.
Check out this infographic to see why using CFLs in your home or office is a great money saver and a giant step towards becoming more energy efficient.
For a full list of energy saving tips, click here.
A challenge contractors often face is convincing homeowners of the many benefits of air sealing. Often times, homeowners see this as no more than an additional expense that they do not need. However, what many homeowners do not realize is that air sealing can make a great difference in air quality while also lowering energy bills. As a contractor, you want to do your best to look out for your clients. Here are some tips to convince them of the benefits of air sealing. By utilizing these, you may be able to increase air sealing sales, which benefits not only you as a contractor but the homeowners in the long term as well.
Visuals can be a great tool to help convince people about the benefits of air sealing. Some studies have come to the conclusion that 65% of people are visual learners and the effective use of visuals can help decrease learning time, improve comprehension, enhance retrieval, and increase retention. I recommend showing a chart like the one above from the EPA when explaining air sealing benefits to a homeowner. Read the rest of this entry »
If ever there was a champion of efficiency, the military would be it. Energy efficiency is no exception to this generalization. As The Solar Foundation (TSF) and Operation Free tell us in a recent Veterans in Solar report, the U.S. military has scaled up its use of distributed renewable energy technologies, at home and in combat zones, to strengthen energy security and improve operational costs and capabilities.
Always occupying a certain crest on the waves of technological innovation, the American military has made efforts toward energy independence, bolstered by a Department of Defense (DoD) mandate to use renewable power for 25% of total facility energy consumption by 2025. Read the rest of this entry »
In order to answer this, let’s have a short recap on what BPI stands for. The Building Performance Institute, or BPI, is an organism certifying energy efficiency efforts or energy audits in a house. For any individual working in this field, a BPI training and thus certification is a proof that knowledge and competences have been verified by an independent third party. BPI then oversees everything related to residential energy efficiency, home’s energy flow and energy conservation. Read the rest of this entry »
By Sam Shrank/GreenOrder
Utility operations are being forced to evolve as customer expectations shift, technological change continues and new players enter adjacent markets. As utilities chart their course in areas such as energy efficiency, smart grid, and distributed generation, they find themselves in unfamiliar positions. The second in our four-part series (See Part I by my colleague, Mat McDermid, Finding the Regulated Utility Role in a Shifting Energy Landscape), we discuss how utilities can leverage behavioral science research as they expand into markets where they are not a monopoly and customers need to be convinced about the benefits of the products and services offered.
Since setting up auto-pay the day I moved into my apartment, I’ve given no thought to my utility bill. Given that my job is to analyze and advise utilities, I’d venture to say most people are no more engaged. However, with an evolving set of customer offerings—energy efficiency (EE), alternative fuel vehicles, demand response, and the like—many utilities are realizing that they may require better, different, or more communication. In short, they are discovering what it means to sell.
And not only are they beginning to market things customers may not feel they need, they now have competitors as well, particularly in the EE market. Various other entities are looking to advise large electricity and gas users about how to lower their bills and provide help with financing, sell devices directly to customers that increase automation and control, or take over the utility’s role as the provider of EE offerings funded through utility bill surcharges. All of these reduce both the direct benefit to utilities from performance incentives and the indirect benefits from higher customer satisfaction, improved regulatory relationships, and perceived leadership.
Our satisfaction comes from getting to know our students as they learn new skills and prepare for their new careers. Check out some photos from our BPI Building Analyst Class