Let’s Talk About Our Future!

So most of us in the Northeast are just getting our new Electrical Bill for last month. I’m sure many National Grid customers are noticing the 37% increase in their bill. This raise in cost of electricity is widespread throughout the country, as older, antiquated generation sites are going off line, the existing plants must work around the clock to make up the deficit. As you can imagine, this added strain on the remaining plants is the root of price increase, but it goes much deeper! Electricity is being sold and traded as a commodity, (similar to oil futures), so becoming less of a burden on the grid and maximizing all generation / collection has become priority one. Hydro, Wind, & Solar are the best options to help bolster the existing demand, and it has some great repercussions, in both the environment and the economy.

If the electricity grid were just 5% more efficient, the greenhouse gas reduction would be equivalent to removing 53 MILLION CARS. We need an #energy network that prepares us for the future—one that is flexible, responsive and resilient. #SmartGrid

LEARN MORE: http://poweroverenergy.org/transmission/

CLEAN COMPARISON: How many jobs can a $1M investment create?


Blower Door Testing & Air Changes Per Hour

If you are building a new home or any new construction project, you may be asked to provide a certificate with blower door testing and air changes per hour BEFORE the city or town will give you the occupancy permit. This may be more difficult than you think, in many instances, the building departments of your cities and towns, although requiring these tests, have no resources for you to get them.

That’s where Alternative Weatherization can help. We are BPI Certified and are qualified to give you a certificate of Blower Door Testing and Air Changes Per Hour. If you find yourself or someone you know in need of this, please contact us, we can usually accommodate same day requests.

These tests are something we do on a regular basis in renovating and insulating peoples homes, but many inspectors are now enforcing these measures for new construction. Although this may seam more of a nuisance, it really is a good thing to do. Building codes have changed, and the way builders assemble homes is more energy conscious than ever before. Because of this, the home is air sealed and insulated by the builder. Most home builders are qualified to install these measures, but not really concerned with the consequences and repercussions. Let Alternative Weatherization help you, and get your home passed and occupied!Blower Door

The Solutions Project – A Trend For the Future

Last week, Tim and I were invited to sit in at a symposium on Energy at Bristol Community College. One of the topics that came up was the rising tide of renewable energy sources and their foot print today. We were presented with a new initiative, “The Solutions Project: Massachusetts”. This is a group of forward thinking people who see the current energy generation and creation and are trying to shift to a cleaner, greener solution. The project wants to transition from existing fossil fuel methods to 100% wind, water and solar for all purposes, (electricity, transportation, heating/cooling, industrial).

They present a 2050 projected Energy Mix of:

3.9% Residential Rooftop PV
22.5% Solar PV Plants
0% CSP Plants (Coal)
13% Onshore Wind
55% Offshore Wind
3.3% Commercial Rooftop PV
1% Wave Devices
0% Geothermal
1.2% Hydroelectric
0.1% Tidal Turbines

What this shows is that using Wind, Water, and Solar electricity for everything, instead of burning fuel, and improving energy efficiency means you need much less energy.

Not only does this model help to reduce the burden on our geological assets, but it will bolster the economy. It is estimated that an energy model like this would allow for 61,400 40-Year Construction Jobs and 42,800 40-Year Operation Jobs, (40-Year Job is where a person is employed for 40 consecutive years).

Other benefits presented are better air & water quality which in turn accounts for avoided heath costs per year. Based on their findings, the plan pays for itself in as little as 11 years from air pollution and climate cost savings alone. They estimate the annual avoided heath costs could be in the neighborhood of $8.5 Billion… BILLION! The average annual energy, health and climate cost savings per person in 2050 is $4,400. Not to mention the savings to Massachusetts residents in their Energy costs. Based on the current mix, in 2050 we will see an average of 14.9 cents per Kilowatt Hour. With a Wind, Water, and Solar model we can see an average of 7.4 cents per Kilowatt Hour. The average annual energy cost savings per person in 2050 would be in the neighborhood of $2,100.

Alternative Weatherization is always trying to stay at the forefront of energy conservation and efficiency, and its in this vein that we are building partnerships with like minded entities who work in the Green Energy field, we want to see the evolution towards a self sustaining energy platform, and reduce the impact our energy generation and usage has on our planet. This is just one example of what our future could hold, we encourage and support any Green Initiative that can help to move us forward!

If you want to get involved, please visit thesolutionsproject.org, and if you already are involved and want to talk about partnerships, please email us: alternativeweatherization@gmail.com

Rule Your Attic!

Check out a quick, helpful video from our friends over at Energy Star! If you own a home, it is in your best interest to check out what is happening up in your attic.

Contact us today for a FREE in home consultation, (we’ll go into the attic and handle this for you!), winter is coming and now is the time to get your home ready! You winterize your car for the cold weather, lets do the same for your home! Set up an appointment today!

The ACI New England Energy Efficiency Conference, Springfield MA

It was great to see everyone from the Energy Efficiency community, catching up and swapping war stories. We made some great connections and laid the ground work on relationships that are sure to help elevate everyone at Alternative Weatherization and our customers alike. There were so many great seminars and knowledgeable people, it really great to see the companies and programs come together to move energy efficiency forward. We spent a lot of time with vendors, exploring new tools and techniques that are sure to make an impact and help to move energy efficiency into the future.

Always Prepared!

Always Prepared!

The Home Performance Coalition brought together a great group of speakers, and all of us at Alternative Weatherization would like to thank the sponsors: Mass Save; Building Performance Institute, Inc. (BPI); National Grid; Northeast Utilities; EnergySavvy; Columbia Gas of Massachusetts; Next Step Living; RISE Engineering; Home Energy Magazine; Environmental Business Council of New England; Homebuilders & Remodelers Association of Western Massachusetts; NECEC; NESEA

At Alternative Weatherization, we pride ourselves on staying up to date on the pulse of the Home Performance World. Professional and educated are the pillars to our weatherization and home improvement background, we stay at the forefront of training our employees. Events like these help us to really get what works and get it implemented to our team!

Our Company President putting the Accu1 9300 through the ringer! Our Company President putting the Accu1 9300 through the ringer!

The theme of the conference was all about bringing everything together. The programs, (MassSave, EnergyWise, WAP), are trying to navigate the pulse in 2014. Solar is coming on strong, and its repercussions are being felt all over, along with the weatherization side of things, we can help to bring it all together. The time is never been better to explore your options and find out what’s coming down the road! Give us a call and set up a time for me to sit down and analyze your bills and find out how we can make your home as efficient at possible!

Massachusetts Residents: Early Boiler & Early Furnace Rebate Forms Must Be In By The End of The Month

It’s crunch time, if you have a boiler that is 30 years old or a furnace that is 12 years old, (or older), you could be eligible for some substantial rebates from The Mass Save program, (anywhere from $1,900 to $4,000 depending on equipment and fuel). These special promotional rebates are coming to an end, if you were on the fence about replacing your heating system and it meets these parameters, you need to contact me ASAP.

The Early Boiler / Early Furnace Rebate program is in its third installment, its been a staple of the Mass Save program during the down months, (May through September). It will more than likely return, but I cannot guarantee the rebate amounts will be the same. One good thing is that in the years since the program has rolled out, the rebates and scope has expanded, (can’t guarantee that will be continuing, but it does look like the trend).

Mass Save offers rebates year round for replacing energy efficient heating and hot water systems and financing is available through the HEAT loan program. Contact us ASAP so that we can help advise you on the program and requirements!

Alternative Weatherization
1440 Stafford Road
Fall River MA
(508) 567-4240

The Skinny on Windows

Now that summer is over and people are shifting their focus from the fun and sun to getting ready for winter, there are some things you should do before the cold weather hits. A lot of times, there are areas in your home that if allowed to go un-checked, can really effect your fuel usage. It does not matter if you heat with Natural Gas, Fuel Oil, Propane, Electricity, or Wood, if you don’t have your home sealed and weatherized, you are throwing money away!

There are many areas of your home that facilitate this process, and conversely, if corrected you will feel a difference immediately. Many homeowners always tell me their house is too drafty, or they want to replace all their windows because they feel drafts. I want to tell you why its drafty and why replacing of windows is not always a solution.

Your home may or may not have insulation existing, that is something that most people are aware of, (when they have some they know and when none is present, they usually know it as well). Insulation works like a down winter coat, the more down in your coat, the thicker it is and the more distance you have from your body heat to the outside cold air. Pretty cut and dry. The process that is being effected is a conductive heat loss. The more insulation your home has, the less the heat loss you’ll experience. But there is another type of heat loss at work, one that cannot be seen, but definitely can be felt. What I’m talking about is the convective heat loss, or air movement. Insulation, by itself, does not stop air from moving, its passive, so air flow moves right through your insulation. This process happens because of some atmospheric conditions. The first rule of thermo-dynamics states that high pressure, (heated), air moves to lower pressure, (un-heated), air, and just like electricity, air takes the paths of least resistance. So in the wintertime, you are using fuel to heat up the air in your home and make it more comfortable. That heated air is now being drawn to all the colder air that is surrounding your home. The easiest way for that heated air to get to cold air is to go up, and find the attic. The heated air finds it way to your attic by going through many egresses. It is traveling through the network of top plates, (the area where your partition walls meet the ceiling), your attic access, (doors, hatches and pull downs), and wiring penetrations, (both for fixtures through the ceilings and also for switches and outlets that are wired through the framing members of the wall). It is estimated that if you were able to consolidate all the areas of your home’s ceiling permeability, you would have a hole about 5 feet in diameter! Your home has a volume of air that it maintains, when you lose air to the attic, your home is going to replace that heated air, with cold outside air. This comes in from leaks in the foundation, leaky doors and windows, etc. Now your heating system has to burn more fuel to make the air warm again, all so you can lose it.

So as you can see based on this process, windows do play a role in the heat loss of your home, but replacing them, just by itself will not make your home less drafty. The only way to insure that the drafts in your home are reduced, is to have the home Air Sealed. Air sealing requires sealing off the pathways we outlined above, and also sealing areas of your basement, (rim joist), and in your living space. A window salesman is not going to tell you this, replacement windows can be very pricey, and although they boast “35%” reduction in utility bills, the reality is that a replacement window, on average, can take 12 to 15 years to give you a return on investment.

If you are a Massachusetts resident, you could be eligible for FREE air sealing through the MassSave program, you read that right FREE! If you live in Rhode Island, EnergyWise can give you a substantial discount off the cost of having the home air sealed! Alternative Weatherization works with both of these programs and can help you to get started immediately. Give us a call, (508) 567-4240 and set up a time for me to come out and assess your home. This is a no cost assessment and you are not obligated to anything. Take the first step in making your home more Energy Efficient, call Alternative Weatherization today!

The Convective Heat Loss Process

The Convective Heat Loss Process

The Time Is Now

One of the questions I get asked frequently this time of year, “how long until you can come out?”. The answer should be, but hardly ever is, cut and dry. Unfortunately, there are many variables in this process. If you are planning on working with a Utility sponsored program, (like MassSave or EnergyWise), it depends on when they can come out and provide you with an energy audit. Many times, these programs are getting bombed with phone calls and requests for audits, that the wait time to have an advisor out is sometimes 4 to 6 weeks. Depending upon the out-come of the energy audit, you may have to wait for things like loan approval, or there can be roadblocks that prevent you from proceeding with contracting the job, (knob & tube wiring; failing and broken heating equipment; etc). It kind of puts a damper in many homeowners plans of doing some insulation and air sealing work. I always advise for everyone to work with these programs, they can save you a substantial amount of money, and all you have to do is jump through some hoops and wait.

The best thing to do, is have us come out and perform a preliminary assessment, and we can help to give you some perspective on what the audit process will be like and coach you on getting the most out of your energy audit. I worked for the MassSave program as an Energy Auditor, I have a huge program acumen that is available to you. Give me a call or email and I’ll be sure to set up a time to get out to you, and get the process rolling. In many cases, I can come out same day. I want to be your personal energy advisor, lets set up a time to talk further!

Chris Barbaro
c: (774) 644-9660
e: cbarbaroaw@gmail.com

The Heating Season is Fast Approaching

Once again, its the time of year where every morning, our heating systems are firing up.   Winter is on its way, and now is the time to have your home assessed.  A free home assessment, (or energy audit), will look at things like your Heating Systems performance, your domestic hot water heater, the insulation levels in your home, and from this, come up with a comprehensive plan to help your home be efficient as possible.  Here are some tips to maximize your home this winter:

1.) Have your heating system serviced every year.  Your heating system is like a high performance sports car, if you don’t tune it up, it doesn’t perform as well as it could.  This leads to in-efficiency, and problems.  Having the system looked at by a professional can also help in getting ahead of problems, it may cost you a little bit of money, but its better than having a plumber come to your home at 3 am when your system stops working.

2.) Insulate your home.  This is the most cost effective way of ensuring your heating fuel is being maximized.  Insulating your home helps you retain heat and use less fuel, and can help in reducing outside noise.  The cost of insulating your home usually has a return on investment from 2 to 5 years.

3.) Install Digital Programmable Thermostats.  Contrary to popular belief, keeping your home at a static temperature all day and night is very inefficient.  The best way to maximize your fuel, is to have it heat up to your maximum temperature when you are in the home.  When you are not in the home, or sleeping, you can let the temperature in the home drop and save yourself some $.

4.)  Air Seal your home.  Air sealing helps to reinforce the existing insulation you have, it stops drafts and helps to slow down the convective heat loss.  Most times, we lose 35% of our heat by convection, heated air escapes the home making its way into the attic, and cold, outside air infiltrates the home to replace the heated air.  Your heating system now has to work and burn fuel to keep up with this loss, air sealing can slow down if not eliminate this from happening.

These tips are paramount in getting the most out of the money you spend on fuel.  The less fuel you use, the less money you spend, it’s as simple as that.  Not to mention, the less fuel you use, the less greenhouse gases your home emits, and your carbon footprint is reduced.

Contact Alternative Weatherization for a free, comprehensive evaluation, we can usually come out same day and give you some great tips and suggestions on how to make your home more energy efficient.  (508) 567-4240 or email us alternativeweatherization@gmail.com

Great job of air sealing by our professional at Alternative Weatherization