Monday, March 31, 2008

Energy Efficiency: Don’t “Duct” Your Responsibility

You'd think twice about putting a new engine into an old car, right? Unfortunately, many households don't take this same approach when it comes to their heating and cooling systems. They purchase new, high-efficiency heating and cooling equipment and then attach it to a clunker of a duct system. The equipment may heat and cool the home, but the system never performs at its full potential.

The fact is, many forced air duct systems are clunkers. They leak, are poorly-designed and inadequately insulated. This is a big problem since central air conditioners, heat pumps and forced air furnaces rely on these systems to circulate air throughout your home. Poorly-performing ducts can reduce your system's efficiency by up to 20%.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program recommends that you have your duct system checked—either during an equipment replacement or a service call. Your contractor should be able to diagnose any problems and make needed repairs that can dramatically improve the energy efficiency of the complete system, increase your home's comfort and help improve the environment. If your contractor cannot diagnose the problem or check for duct leakiness, consider hiring a Home Energy Rater (See Home Energy Audits for more information). They have the diagnostic equipment and expertise to find leaks in your duct system. By fixing your ducts you could save up to $140 per year in energy costs (this does not include the savings from upgrading your HVAC equipment).

Do you have a clunker of a duct system? Ask yourself these questions:

• Do your filters get dirty quickly? Are there dirt streaks showing at the corners and seams of duct connections?
• Do you have rooms that just don't get much air flow and never seem to feel comfortable?
• Do you have ducts in your attic or crawl space?

Any or all of these conditions may be attributable to poorly performing ducts. Your contractor should do the following to fix your ductwork:

• "Walk your ducts." Inspect the whole distribution system, including attic and crawl spaces. They should: measure air flow with diagnostic equipment, remove some registers and grills to make sure that everything is connected, and develop a plan to make upgrades.
• Seal all leaks and connections with mastic, metal tape, or an aerosol-based sealant. Don't use duct tape!
• Seal all registers and grills tightly to the ducts.
• Fully insulate ducts in unconditioned areas (R6 at a minimum).
• Determine if additional air returns dampers, or new zones are needed.
• Fix damaged ducts; straighten out flex ducts that are tangled.
• Conduct a combustion safety test after ducts are sealed to ensure that systems are venting properly.

For complete information on keeping your home comfortable year-round, get the ENERGY STAR Guide to Energy-Efficient Cooling and Heating at or 1-888-STAR-YES (1-888-782-7937). You can also contact Veterans Energy Solutions, LLC to help diagnose all your energy wastes, improve your efficiency, save the environment and save you up to 70% on your energy bills.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Juno Beach, CA, USA: FPL Energy Advances its Solar Strategy

March 26, 2008

FPL Energy, the country’s leading generator of wind and solar thermal power, announced today an important step in its strategy to add significantly to its solar power generating capability. FPL Energy, through a wholly-owned subsidiary, has filed an Application for Certification with the California Energy Commission (CEC) to construct, own and operate a 250-megawatt solar plant in the Mojave Desert to be called the Beacon Solar Energy Project.

FPL Energy’s solar generation strategy centers on utilizing proven and scalable parabolic trough solar thermal technology that has been used commercially for more than 20 years. FPL Energy has nearly 20 years of experience operating similar technology at its SEGS solar thermal facilities in the Mojave Desert.

As first announced at the Clinton Global Initiative last September, FPL Group, the parent company of FPL Energy, is committed to and plans to invest significantly in new solar generating facilities over the next several years. FPL Energy has set a goal of adding at least 600 megawatts of new solar by 2015. FPL Energy has already identified 1,100 megawatts of new solar sites and has leased, optioned or owns outright a significant amount of land in the west and southwest U.S.

“FPL Energy is a leader in producing energy from clean and renewable sources,” said Mitch Davidson, president of FPL Energy. “At a time of rising and volatile fossil-fuel costs and increasing concerns about greenhouse gases, solar electricity can have a meaningful impact in reducing carbon dioxide emissions that scientists believe contribute to global warming. We believe that solar power has similar long-term potential as wind energy, and we are well positioned to play a leading role in the growth of this renewable technology.”

The proposed Beacon Solar Energy Project will be located on an approximately 2,000 acre site in eastern Kern County, California. The more than 500,000 parabolic mirrors will be assembled in rows to receive and concentrate the solar energy to produce steam for powering a steam turbine generator. The generator will produce electric power for delivery to the nearby electric grid.
FPL Energy expects to begin construction on the project late in 2009 and take approximately two years to complete.

Further details about: FPL Energy

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Tips On Pumping Gas

I received a forwarded email from a friend that gave "Tips On Pumping Gas." I posted it here with accompanying explanations. I hope this helps someone. ;-)

1) Only buy or fill up your car or truck in the early morning when the ground temperature is still cold. Remember that all service stations have their storage tanks buried below ground. The colder the ground the more dense the gasoline, when it gets warmer gasoline expands, so buying in the afternoon or in the evening....your gallon is not exactly a gallon. Service stations do not have temperature compensation at the pumps.

2) When you're filling up do not squeeze the trigger of the nozzle to a fast mode. I f you look you will see that the trigger has three (3) stages: low, middle, and high. In slow mode you should be pumping on low speed, thereby minimizing the vapors that are created while you are pumping. All hoses at the pump have a vapor return. If you are pumping on the fast rate, some other liquid that goes to your tank becomes vapor. Those vapors are being sucked up and back into the underground storage tank so you're getting less worth for your money.

3) One of the most important tips is to fill up when your gas tank is HALF FULL or HALF EMPTY. The reason for this is, the more gas you have in your tank the less air occupying its empty space. Gasoline evaporates faster than you can imagine. Gasoline storage tanks have an internal floating roof. This roof serves as zero clearance between the gas and the atmosphere, so it minimizes the evaporation.

4) Another reminder, if there is a gasoline truck pumping into the storage tanks when you stop to buy gas, DO NOT fill up--most likely the gasoline is being stirred up as the gas is being delivered, and you might pick up some of the dirt that normally settles on the bottom. Hope this will help you get the most value for your money.


Monday, March 24, 2008

Senate committee OKs energy reforms

Originally published March 20, 2008
Senate committee OKs energy reforms

Sweeping reforms to increase energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy in Florida were approved Wednesday by a Senate committee.

SB 1544 includes major energy proposals by Gov. Charlie Crist. The bill directs the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to develop a proposal for limiting emissions of greenhouse gases and allowing the sale of credits for reductions. The bill also requires improved energy efficiency in new buildings and requires increasing amounts of ethanol in gasoline.

"Our governor has taken a tremendous leadership role in this issue of energy independence (and) climate change," said Sen. Burt Saunders, a Naples Republican. He is chairman of the Senate Committee on Environmental Preservation and Conservation, which unanimously approved the bill.

The bill, as proposed by Saunders was expanded Wednesday to include some recommendations by the Florida Energy Commission. The bill generally drew praise from environmental and renewable energy industry groups.

But Florida Chamber of Commerce representative Joanna Bonfanti said a requirement that utilities increase their use of renewable energy "may be a little aggressive" early on.

"We are always more supportive of incentives and goals over mandates," she said.

The committee last week delayed consideration of several proposed amendments, including a proposal by the Florida Energy Commission to increase recycling to 75 percent by 2020. But most were approved by the committee Wednesday with some changes.

DEP supported the recycling proposal after it was modified to direct the department to develop a program by 2010 for achieving 75 percent recycling.

The bill does not include the greenhouse gas reductions required by Crist's executive orders signed last summer. DEP is implementing those requirements through rulemaking, department spokeswoman Sarah Williams said.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Green Room


“The Green Room” business Networking Group on making homes GREEN to hold meeting

Miami, FL (3/20/08)-- “The Green Room,” a new Miami Business Networking group focused on enviroMentally-friendly and life quality home improvements, will bring together green-minded product and service providers at its SECOND Meeting on April 5, at 11:00 A.M. in miami shores. Anyone who can conribute to greener living or who simply wants to live greener is invited. To attend, register for free Through

This group is organized by Andrea Crilly, a certified EcoBroker® and realtor® with Keller Williams realty in miami shores. space is limited.

MEETING CONTENT: 1. introduction, 2. TWO green-business guest speakers present brief talks, 3. networking

Guest speakers include:
· DAVID LINZER, C.K.D., Certified Kitchen Designer, VP of the South Florida Chapter of NKBA [National Kitchen Bath Association], Manufacturer’s Representative for Breathe Easy® Cabinetry for indoor air quality, Senior Kitchen Bath Designer for Kitchens Baths & More, Delray Beach, FL

Topic: Introduction to Green Kitchen Design/Finding Responsibility

· RUSSELL OTWAY, Co-Founder/Manager of Veterans Energy Solutions, LLC, Iraq War Veteran (OIF) Veterans Energy Solutions, LLC is an energy solutions provider that is dedicated to achieving energy independence and environmental sustainability

Topic: Are You Ready For $4 Per Gallon Gasoline This Summer?

**** PLease view for more information*****

Who: green home improvement Professionals

What: green business networking group

When: APRIL 5, 11:00 AM--12:30 PM

Where: Keller Williams Realty
700 NE 90 Street, Conference Suite, Miami, FL 33138

Contact: Andrea Crilly, organizer

Earth Hour Miami

A Follow Up...

Lessons Learned Take Three:

I spoke with David and Taby, whom I recently wrote about (here), to find out if they had implemented the changes we talked about. Taby was actually excited to report that they had indeed changed their shower head to a lower flow one. And without skipping a beat she said that she spent about $30 to change it to a 2.5 gallon-per-minute flow-rate shower head. In the same rhythm, she stated further that there are no more problems. And without any equivocations was happy about having saved money in the face of all these problems occuring lately. I wish I could have shared a recording of the conversation!

To review, they would probably have spent about $1,000 to purchase and install an instanteneous hot water heater and yet another estimated $500 over the course of the year in higher electric usage for an estimated total of $1500. All told, they spent a meager 2% of what they could have spent. The net present value of savings obtained by making the purchase of the instanteneous hot water heater would have been about $-1000 (yes, negative) whereas the npv of the $30 purchase is about $465. Put another way, by spending $30 they get a 98% discount off of a headache. See more on headaches here.

The payback? Pat yourself on the back. You hired an energy auditor that solved a problem for you and saved you money too!

The moral of the story:

  • An energy audit can help you avoid a headache.
  • It can even help solve an existing one too! ;-)
Contact us, we're motivated to help you!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

I don't think my hot water heater works...

Lessons Learned Take Two:

About two or three weeks ago, we conducted an energy audit at a home on Coral Way close to 37th Avenue. It was a condominium apartment about 800 sqft., 1 Br/1Ba on the 10th floor. They had a nice view facing north and can see much of the county over the horizon -- a 180-degree view-point. That's a definite advantage over a single-family home.

The homeowners, David & Taby, were happy to see us arrive wielding our high-tech equipment to test their home. We exchanged pleasantries and quickly began work. When we asked for the location of the air handler to get the info on it, the response on the location came from David. And Taby followed with a comment about the hot water heater being located in the same location adding that she doesn't think it works well. David responded saying it's fairly new so, nothing should be wrong with it. Taby then wanted to see what we had to say about it.

So, I asked her: "What issues were she facing?" She said her problem with the hot water heater was that it would not heat adequately when she was washing her hair. She stated further that after about 5 or so minutes the water would lose its heat. She estimates it takes her about 15 minutes to complete the job. Anyhow, David chimed in saying that a co-worker told him about instantaneous hot water heaters and proceeded to talk about how he could use it, etc. He suggested that this change may do the trick and shared the insight that his co-worker told him in how it would affect electric usage. I took it all in but I wanted to investigate it further. The reason can be read by a recent post.

After recording the specs on the hot water heater, I saw that it wasn't that old as David had said. And after close inspection I didn't see anything wrong with it. So, I wanted to find out more. I checked and found the distance from the hot water heater was less than 10 feet. And they don't typically run the washer or the dishwasher during a shower. So, why is it that the 30-gallon hot water heater fails to produce enough hot water for a hair wash?

They were intrigued by our investigation. Everyone piqued, trying to find out what the problem was. There shouldn't be any problem if the hot water heater is working properly. Anyhow, the heater is located under the air handler in a closet next to the front door in the hallway. The hallway is air conditioned and the closet door isn't sealed. So, some of the heat from the tank could be lost to the ambient cold air. But that doesn't explain away the ineffective system. All along, I knew what the likely problem was, but I wanted to include them in the investigation so they can learn from the experience.

We went into the bathroom and I looked at the showerhead and I couldn't find any visible ratings on it but I deduced that it may have a flow-rate of about 5 gallons per minute (gpm) based on what was mentioned earlier. Quickly calculating a 5 gpm flow-rate for a 30-gallon tank means that hot water (or lukewarm due to heat loss) stored in the tank means they have about 6 minutes of hot water available to them. They were astounded by the simplicity in the underlying cause of the problem. Neither would have known what the problem was and could have spent money fixing a perceived problem only to create another problem. This mis-application would have cost them more money:

A Titan N-10 tankless model would have cost them about $250 plus shipping, the install and the increased electric usage. All told, we estimated that they could have spent about $1500. When they could spend less than $250 to change the shower head and wrap the hot water with a thermal blanket. Purchasing a 2 gpm shower head would give her the 15 minute heated water. The thermal blanket can keep it hotter longer so that mixing could further add longevity to the shower.

Lesson Learned:

Sometimes advice can lead to wrong results even if it was well meant. This was simply a well meant shortcoming. Your best bet is to hire a pro -- they have the experience and training to look for these things. ;-) Besides, they are well oriented in energy efficient principles. "One man's cure can be another man's curse."

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Lessons Learned from Energy Audits

Lessons Learned Take One:

I haven't spoken to anyone who doesn't know much about energy efficiency. Most of the folks I've spoken to have had some exposure to the topic of energy efficiency, whether it was from their own projects, someone else's, the internet, their own research, or even the media.

Interestingly, I'm always asked for opinions on different approaches and techniques, etc. But a recurring trend I noticed is that they speak about energy efficiency from the perspective of their own experience and try to relate it to someone else's predicament. I've found that this comes up short because that person doesn't understand how to apply the principles of energy efficiency to someone else's home. They only understand it from their home and think it should apply to someone else's home just the same.

For example, I heard from someone who talked about how a friend of theirs added an instantaneous hot water heater in their home and reduced their electric bill by about $40. He said that that friend encouraged him to do the same to help save money too. So, he set out to do the same but found that this change had the opposite effect. It increased his electric bill by about $95 and he was quite discouraged by the results. After discussing both scenarios, his friend's household and his household, I saw distinct differences in their household needs and that was only the beginning. I will spare you further details. But, needless to say, he walked away from the conversation understanding what needed to be done in order to get a better outcome and he was going to have to spend more money.

I'll leave this story here. But I will write more detailed accounts following this post. Stay tuned! ;-)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

State of Florida
Contact: 850-413-6482

Florida Public Service Commission Approves Net Metering and Interconnection Rule

TALLAHASSEE — Florida’s Public Service Commission (PSC) today ratified its December 18, 2007 decision on a rule addressing net metering and expedited interconnection standards. The Commission considered comments received from participants in the rulemaking proceeding but made no changes to the rule.

The net metering rule is intended to promote the development and interconnection of customer-owned renewable generation, and minimize costs for customers attempting to interconnect to their utility. It encourages the development of renewable generation by: (1) expanding the size of eligible systems from 10 kW to 2 MW; (2) expanding the type of eligible systems from solely photovoltaic to all renewable technologies; (3) expediting the interconnection of customer-owned renewable generation; and (4) allowing customers to offset consumption through net metering.

“This rule is expected to increase the development of renewable generation in Florida, which will enhance fuel diversity and reliability,” said PSC Chairman Matthew M. Carter II. “Customer-owned renewable generation also effectively acts as a conservation measure by reducing the amount of electricity purchased from utilities.”

The PSC is committed to making sure that Florida's consumers receive their electric, natural gas, telephone, water, and wastewater services in a safe, affordable, and reliable manner. The PSC exercises regulatory authority over utilities in the areas of rate base/economic regulation; competitive market oversight; and monitors safety, reliability, and service.

For additional information, visit
Also of interest is: South Florida Business Journal Article - click here

Florida Power and Light - Sun Funds Solar-Electric (PV) Rebate Program


The Florida Power and Light (FPL) Sun Funds program offers rebates to its residential customers of $1.50 per watt for photovoltaic (PV) systems installed after December 1, 2007. Sun Funds are available on a first come, first served basis and will be distributed until 100 kilowatts (kW) of new solar electric capacity is awarded. Applicants must purchase and install the PV system through a certified licensed solar electric contractor. To be eligible for the rebate, the applicant must first qualify for state rebates* offered by the Florida Energy Office (FEO). A completed application may be submitted to FPL Sun Funds anytime after purchasing a PV system, but no later than 30 days after receiving a state rebate. Sun Funds rebates will be issued to qualified applicants upon confirmation that their application for a state rebate has been accepted by FEO, and as long as Sun Funds money is still available. See the program website for more information.

Incentive Type: Utility Rebate Program

Eligible Renewable/Other Technologies: Photovoltaics

Applicable Sectors: Residential, Multi-Family Residential, Low-Income Residential

Incentive Amount: $1.50 per installed watt

Eligible System Size: 2 kW to 7 kW

Equipment Requirements: All solar energy systems sold in Florida are required by Florida law (FS 377.705) to be approved by the Florida Solar Energy Center

Installation Requirements: Must be installed by a licensed master electrician or state-licensed electrical or solar contractor

Program Budget: $150,000

Ownership of Renewable Energy Credits: Remains with system owner