In honor of Earth Day, Vegas PBS is airing “The Energy Detectives,” featuring professionals from SolarEnvi and other Efficiency First Nevada companies, as we audit and retrofit a real Las Vegas home.
The show will air at 10 pm on Thursday, April 19, 2012 on Vegas PBS Channel 10.1, with a repeat airing on Sunday, April 22 at 7 pm and several more on PBS’s cable channels throughout the month.
Efficiency First Nevada commissioned the show because we found the public has difficulty visualizing what is involved in an energy retrofit, but are enthusiastic once they see the process with their own eyes. The homeowner has seen her energy bills increase steadily until they are no longer affordable. Our team achieves substantial savings for the homeowner.
The retrofit involves measures real clients are likely to take in southern Nevada, including shell sealing, improved insulation, duct sealing, replacement of an old refrigerator, radiant barrier, and a solar hot water system.
THE ENERGY DETECTIVES
Thursday, April 19, 10 pm
Sunday, April 22, 7 pm
Vegas PBS, Channel 10.1
See additional air times at http://vegaspbs.org/index.aspx?NID=55.
Earlier this month SolarEnvi attended the Dry Climates Forum in Irvine, CA. California leads the western states in research and pushing the envelope of the home performance industry. Discussion ranged from advances in energy modeling and measurement and verification, to public awareness and how to get the message to the public about the benefits of better performing homes that use drastically less energy. Among the presentations were:
Net Zero Homes
California has several strong initiatives to develop net zero homes, which combine super-tight retrofitting with low consumption equipment and renewable energy. Robert Fortunato retrofitted his 1959 home in Hermosa Beach along with Southern California Edison and a host of partners for zero energy as well as multiple sustainability features. He continuously documents the project on greenhouse.com.
Range Hoods Don’t Work
Woody Delp of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory presented a study on the effectiveness of residential kitchen range hoods. Range hoods are important for indoor environmental quality for taking odors, moisture, and combustion products from the home’s interior. Dr. Delp’s study showed that hoods built more like commercial hoods — that is, when they are mounted directly above the range and extend beyond the edges of the range — are the most effective at capturing heat and draft from the range. Downdraft vents found on many high-end freestanding ranges are the least effective, while microwave ovens with built-in high and low intakes often perform better than other models.
HVAC Downsizing has a lot farther to go
Dan Perunko of Balance Point Home Performance, a leading retrofit contractor, researcher and trainer, presented his experiments with reducing the size of his own home’s heating and cooling system. After discussing that ACCA Manual J still oversizes systems (note: systems designed by rule-of-thumb are much more oversized!), Dan showed that his moderately retrofitted home is able to run on much less heating and cooling capacity than even energy retrofitters typically recommend, and stay comfortable.
Pools can be made much more efficient
As known to most energy professionals in Nevada, pool pumps often can be the second largest energy use in a home. Steve Easley presented a study showing the value of installing a variable speed pool pump programmed to run at the lowest speeds that will get the cleaning and aerating jobs done. Running a motor, such as a pool pump, at half speed reduces its energy use by almost 90%, which means it can be run much longer to move the same amount of water but still save lots of energy. Light are also often a large energy use in a pool — a typical 500W light can be replaced with an energy efficient light that will use 25% or less of the energy with the same light output. Steve announced that RESNET has plans to incorporate pool energy use into the HERS score.
Some contractors who also do energy audits are now advertising “free” energy audits. We encourage you to consider getting an audit from an independent auditing company instead of a contractor. You’ll get an unbiased, comprehensive recommendation that considers all options to determine the most cost-effective upgrades for your particular home, not just the particular products a particular contractor is prepared to install. The HomeFree Nevada/City of Las Vegas programs only pay for the audit if a homeowner gets retrofit work done too. Remember, a “freebie” has to be paid for somehow! SolarEnvi is an independent company offering professional services. We do not sell any products, only professional assessments, and will identify the best upgrades for your home.
In August 2009, SolarEnvi performed the first home energy audit for a pilot program to provide rebates to homeowners for home energy audits.
The program, run by the city’s Planning Department in conjunction with NV Energy, intends to provide up to $500 to offset the cost of an energy audit. NV Energy also will provide a free duct test and seal through its approved contractors.
The process was videoed by the Channel 2′s program, City Beat. The video can be seen here. The audit segment of the program starts at minute 4:00 of the video.
For more information on this program, contact your City Councilperson’s office or Marco Velotta at the Planning Department, (702) 229-4173.
After starting with a big bang in 2006, the City has restarted its Green Building Program with renewed fervor.
The City is now offering rebates and incentives for new construction and remodels that meet green building standards. A variety of green building standards will be recognized, including
Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED).
The Southern Nevada Green Building Partnership.
NV Energy’s Energy Plus New Homes program.
NV Energy’s Sure Bet program
Buildings meeting these standards will be eligible for expedited plans checks, building permit fees and certifications, and will be recognized on the city’s Web site.
The city has teamed with the Green Council, NV Energy, and HomeFree Nevada to encourage building owners to conserve energy.
The City also is doing pilot programs to offer home energy audits at reduced rates. SolarEnvi performed the first pilot audit to a home under these programs in August, 2009.
See more about the City of Las Vegas at http://www.lasvegasnevada.gov/sustaininglasvegas/.
There has been a groundswell of change, it seems, in our attitudes toward the fuels we use and the affect human beings are having on the earth. We all thought that was happening in the early seventies, but it was a false start. This time, “change” really is happening. People who think about things know that there are better and worse choices in life, and it seems a lot of people are thinking these days.
SolarEnvi is going to make a difference here in southern Nevada and we are going to help you too.