HOME STAR Legislation Postponed Until Fall

August 9th, 2010

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced last Tuesday that he is delaying the vote on the Clean Energy Jobs and Oil Company Accountability Act of 2010 until after the August recess.  According to Reid, the scaled down energy bill which includes HOME STAR, is short of enough votes to have passed last week.  In a best case scenario situation, HOME STAR will be enacted in late September.  Supporters of the HOME STAR legislation must now focus their efforts on a renewed push to make this Energy Bill happen when Congress is back in session.  To learn about how Politico summed up the situation click here.

EPA Offers Cooling Tips for Every Budget this Summer

July 13th, 2010

The U.S Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star program suggests low to no-cost energy efficient cooling tips to beat the heat this summer.  By taking steps this summer to improve energy efficiency, you can save energy, money and help fight climate change.

 Try these simple tips to start saving today:

  • Program your thermostat to work around your family’s summer schedule.  With proper use, programmable thermostats can save you about $180/year in energy costs.
  • Check your HVAC system’s air filter every month.  If the filter looks dirty, change it, but change the filter at least every 3 months.  A dirty filter will slow air flow and make the system work harder to keep you cool, wasting energy.
  • Run your ceiling fan to create a cool breeze.  Remember that ceiling fans cool you and not the room, so when you leave be sure to turn off the fan.
  • Pull the curtains and shades closed before you leave your home to keep the sun’s rays from overheating the inside of your house.  
  • If you can, move container trees and plants in front of sun-exposed window to serve as shade.

BPI Encouraging Stakeholder Input on Proposed National Home Energy Rating for Homes Program

July 8th, 2010

The Building Performance Institute (BPI) is currently encouraging stakeholders in the home performance industry to review and provide input on the U.S. Department of Energy’s proposal to create a National Energy Rating Program for homes.  The U.S. Department of Energy issued a Request for Information on June 8, 2010 welcoming interested parties to present their comments.

 The goal of the National Energy Rating Program for Homes is to create standardized approaches for evaluating home energy performance and options for conveying this information to consumers.  Issues under consideration include:  how to measure energy performance, what performance metrics to use, and how to best present information to consumers.  

 The RFI is seeking public input on the following aspects of the program:

  • Guiding principles for the program
  • Options and approaches for key elements of the program
  • Proposed DOE approaches
  • Additional work that the DOE is considering

 To submit your comments to the DOE send an email to buildingratingRFI@EE.DOE.GOV with “RFI:  National Energy Rating Program for Homes” in the subject line of the message.

13 Types of Retrofits You Could be Eligible for Under The Home Star Retrofit Act of 2010

June 25th, 2010

There are 13 types of retrofits that are eligible under the Home Star Energy Retrofit Act of 2010.  Each retrofit must comply with Building Performance Institute (BPI) standards or other procedures to be approved.  Each has unique requirements and set rebate amounts, so homeowners and contractors need to do their research before refurbishing.  To learn more about these retrofits, check out this blog post from Software advice at:

http://www.softwareadvice.com/articles/construction/cash-for-caulkers-the-definitive-guide-to-the-home-star-bill-1061110/

Weatherization Assistance Program

June 8th, 2010

The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) enables low income families to permanently decrease their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient.  Funds are used to improve the energy performance of residences of needy families using the most highly developed technologies and testing protocols available in the housing industry.  The U.S. Department of Energy provides financial support to states, U.S. overseas territories, and Indian tribal governments which administer the day to day details of the program.  These governments, in turn, fund a network of local community action agencies, nonprofit organizations, and local governments that provide these weatherization services in every state, the District of Columbia, U.S. territories, and among Native American tribes.

The energy conservation resulting from these efforts of state and local agencies helps our country reduce its dependence on foreign oil and decreases the cost of energy for families in need while improving the health and safety of their homes.  During the past 33 years, WAP has provided weatherization services see their yearly energy bills reduced by an average of about $350, depending upon fuel prices.  Because the energy enhancements that make up weatherization services are long lived, the savings add up over time to significant benefits for weatherization clients and their communities, and the nation as a whole.

Energy Assessments Audits

June 4th, 2010

The District of Columbia Office of Contracting and Procurement, on behalf of the District Department of the Environment (DDOE), (the “District”) is seeking RESNET-accredited contractor(s) to provide Energy Assessments Audits by conducting Home Energy Rating System (HERS) standard comprehensive energy assessments of single family homes in the District of Columbia residential dwellings by a Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) certified rater.  To learn more go to:

http://app.ocp.dc.gov/RUI/information/scf/solicitation_detail.asp?solicitation=DCKG-2010-B-5146

More Home Star Details

May 28th, 2010

Home Star plans to offer two incentive levels – Gold Star and Silver Star.  The $1.7 billion GOLD STAR level is a program that will be available only for whole-home improvement projects. Your BPI Building Analyst Certified Professional or a RESNET qualified rater (or an approved equivalent) conducts an energy audit and comprehensive home performance assessment before work begins, then develops and prioritizes improvement measures specific to the needs of the particular house.

When the work is completed by an accredited contracting company, the certified building analyst or rater returns to the house to conduct a test-out energy audit. This test-out assessment ensures that the installed measures are working properly and determines the modeled energy savings achieved. 

If you improve your home’s energy performance by 20% you will receive $3,000 in incentives. You’ll also get an additional $1,000 for each additional 5% improvement. Depending on how much your home’s energy use is reduced, you could get up to 50% of the entire project cost (capped at $8,000) plus a more energy efficient house.

How the EPA Chooses Products to Earn the Energy Star Label

May 20th, 2010

Products may earn the Energy Star label by meeting specific energy effective requirements set forth by the Energy Star conditions.  The EPA establishes these conditions based on the following:

  •  Product categories must contribute significant energy savings nationwide
  • Qualified products must suggest the features and performance insisted by consumers in addition to improved energy efficiency
  • If the qualified product costs more than a conventional, less efficient equivalent, purchasers will recover their investment in increased energy efficiency through utility bill savings, within a sensible period of time.
  • Energy efficiency can be reached through broadly obtainable non-proprietary technologies offered by more than one manufacturer
  • Product energy consumption and performance can be measured and verified with testing
  • Labeling would effectively differentiate products and be visible for consumers

Tips to Save Energy Today

May 12th, 2010

Here are 10 easy low-cost ways to save energy.

  1. Install a programmable thermostat to keep your house comfortably warm in the winter and comfortably cool in the summer.
  2. Use compact fluorescent light bulbs with the Energy Star label.
  3. Air dry dishes instead of using your dishwasher’s drying cycle.
  4. Turn off your computer and monitor when not in use.
  5. Plug home electronics, such as TVs and DVD players, into power strips; turn the power strips off when the equipment is not in use.
  6. Lower the thermostat on your hot water heater to 120 F
  7. Take short showers instead of baths.
  8. Wash only full loads of dishes and clothes.
  9. Drive sensibly.  Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) wastes gasoline.
  10. Look for the Energy Star Label on home appliances and products.  Energy start products meet strict efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Department on Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Home Star Act Passes the House of Representatives

May 6th, 2010

By a vote of 246 to 161 the House of Representatives today voted to endorse the Home Star Energy Retrofit Act of 2010, which permits creation of a national energy retrofit agenda for American homeowners.  The vote marks a noteworthy milestone in the development of the bipartisan HOME STAR legislation, however it’s essential to remember that the authorization bill passed today must be matched by the Senate, and followed up with an appropriation bill to allocate funds for the $6 billion program.