Letters: May/June 2010
A version of this article appears in the May/June 2010 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
Home Energy Yardstick
In the January/February 2010 article “Energy Labeling and Energy Billing Analysis”, the authors note, “more than one-third of all homes will have energy use attributes that differ by more than 40% from the Yardstick projection.” This is a mischaracterization of the tool, because the Home Energy Yardstick does not predict future energy use like a simulation. The Yardstick score is based on the ratio of the homeowner’s actual energy consumption to the mean energy consumption of homes in the 2005 RECS with similar size, CDD, HDD, and number of occupants. It is a comparison of actual energy use to the mean energy use of homes with similar energy dependent characteristics. It was designed as a screening tool for benchmarking single-family homes, allowing homeowners to gauge their relative energy consumption and impact on the environment.
The Yardstick has several unique benefits that differentiate it from the HERS Index, as shown in the HERS Index versus Yardstick chart. One major advantage is the low cost and ease of use. The Yardstick requires only the homeowner’s time to gather 12 consecutive months of consumption data from their utility, knowledge of the home’s square footage, the number of people living in the home, and the ZIP code. It can also serve as an inexpensive screening tool for energy efficiency programs to target homes that score poorly for follow-up audits, home energy ratings, or whole house assessments. The Home Energy Yardstick can be found at www.energystar.gov/yardstick. For more detailed information on how the Yardstick works, please contact me at Leopkey.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lots to Learn about HVAC
I am a fellow HERS rater based in Southern Cal. I have enjoyed many an article from Steve Mann in Home Energy magazine. First of all, thank you, Steve, for your contributions. They address many issues that we as energy professionals encounter in our daily life.
I want to comment on your piece about NCI and the experience you had in their classes (“Comfort to the Maxx,” Jan/Feb ’10). First, some street cred: I’ve been a part of the HVAC industry since 1973. Starting as a parts guy, I have been an installer, service tech, construction and service manager, outside sales, estimating and design, and had my own small HVAC company as well. I have had the opportunity to teach it at our local community college and for Sempra and CHEERS. Having said that, I must add that I have much to learn, and indeed do that very thing daily.
I have taken classes and have been subsequently certified by NCI for air balancing through the NBI (National Balancing Institute) program. Over the years, I have returned from time to time for recertification. I have to agree with your comments about your experience. It appears to me that NCI is as much a marketing as a technical training organization. I have had similar experiences in that the instructor tends to spend time on third-party stories and rushing through—or skipping—material that was supposed to be covered. Additionally, I agree with your assertion that the exam questions tend to be spoon fed. In fairness, however, there are some other organizations that have similar standards when it comes to passing a “certification” exam.
On the other hand, the information presented by NCI has helped me countless times on residential and commercial air balance jobs; it has paid for itself many times over, believe me.
I applaud your efforts to learn more about a daunting subject. HVAC is our largest energy hog.
I look forward to meeting you at the CABEC conference in May. The preliminary agenda she sent out looks to be very interesting. Meanwhile, please keep those great articles coming!
Energy Driven Solutions, Incorporated
La Quinta, California
Great article (“Comfort to the Maxx,” Jan/Feb ’10)! I am a home performance auditor with a good understanding of HVAC with moderate field experience. I think Steve Mann nailed the experience I had while taking the course he described. I had to beat my head against a few walls after the course to truly begin to understand the information presented. It has been an excellent base, however, to provide clients with a perspective that is severely lacking in our area. I have regretted a number of training experiences, as many cannot be applied. This was not one of them.
Thanks for sharing a positive experience to move folks in the right direction.
Build With Vision
Up on Elevators
I have a reputation among students and colleagues as being honest, demanding, fair, and rigorous in grading (and in the awarding of praise). I was surprised and delighted to encounter an article about elevator energy use by Henry Gifford in the Jan/Feb ’10 issue of Home Energy (“Elevator Energy Use”). The article was well written, the topic was novel, and the content was at an appropriate technical level, data supported, relevant, practical, and interesting. I have enjoyed reading and learning from Henry’s many articles and Web postings, which have covered an impressive range of topics related to building energy conservation. The elevator article is the latest case in point. Thanks.
I want to also express my appreciation and support to Home Energy staff members for their willingness to encourage and publish articles on novel topics related to energy conservation in buildings.
Ohio State University, Wooster Campus
Wooster, Ohio Software Search
I've just read Steve Mann’s article entitled Energy Modeling Versus Reality (Jan/Feb ’10). Steve’s comments mirror much of what I hear from home energy auditors. We are a design/build firm specializing in green modular homes and are looking for the best analytical software to serve our design optimization needs. I am specifically looking at REM:Design, as we would optimally like to design to reduce our HERS as much as possible. I'm wondering if you could offer me some insight and perhaps a specific recommendation of software that will mitigate the majority of issues you discuss in your article. I greatly appreciate any response on this and look forward to your articles in the future.
New World Home LLC
New York, New York
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