With APS lowering their rebate amounts, it’s not all bad news. SRP customers were delighted to hear their SRP rates were lowered this past summer and now the SRP rebate program has increased. Even if you have had an SRP energy audit in the past but have not done any upgrades, your home would qualify for these new rebate amounts. Homes must have an energy audit performed by a company like Green ID to qualify.
Beginning November 1, 2018 SRP homes having duct sealing or insulation upgrades performed can enjoy increased rebates! See the table below for SRP new rebate changes.
SRP Rebate Program Changes
The SRP shade screen rebate will remain the same at $0.80 sq ft, as will the energy efficient air conditioner rebates from $400-$800 and Nest thermostat rebates of $75.
Can I Submit My Own SRP Insulation Rebates?
The SRP Home Performance With Energy Star program provides rebate incentives for homeowners who have a certified energy audit performed on their home for only $99. Once the energy audit is complete, the contractor will provide recommendations to improve the comfort, air quality and energy efficiency of the home and facilitate SRP rebates on the homeowner’s behalf. Homeowners are not able to apply for the insulation or duct sealing rebates themselves under the program. The energy auditing contractor must create a HPXML file to submit to SRP with the house specifications in order to qualify for the rebates and the rebates can either come off the top of the cost or be assigned to the homeowner. SRP typically takes 2-6 weeks to process the rebate checks. Homeowners that choose to do the insulation themselves will not qualify for the insulation rebate as contractors are trained to meet Energy Star’s strict installation requirements.
There are several critical items that must be done for every insulation job to make sure the insulation is not compromised because when it comes to blowing insulation, the preparation is almost as important as the depth.
By doing these upgrades before you insulate your home, you’ll be sure to have a properly sealed and insulated home.
Will My Home Qualify For An Energy Audit?
Not every home needs an energy audit however most homeowners are misled into thinking they need to replace all their windows or go solar to reduce their energy bills. By having an energy audit done on your home, you are getting a comprehensive test of the house to find the true problems. We don’t send a commissioned sales person to do a “free inspection” and then turn around and use the same recommendations on every home. Our auditors actually spend 2-4 hours in a home, just performing our tests that measure airflow, room pressures, HVAC efficiency, duct leakage, air leakage and so much more. Only then, based on our numbers will we recommend solutions for your home. I tell homeowners all the time, if we find that your home is in good shape, our auditors will let you know that. There’s no games with our energy audits and that fact that most of our energy auditors have been with Green ID for 6+ years is a testament to their expertise. We also complete and apply for all the rebate paperwork on your behalf and even take the cost of the rebate out from the start. To find out if your home is a good fit for an energy audit, complete SRP Home Analyzer form and see where your home stands.
Be sure to take advantage of SRP rebate increase while it lasts because in recent years, SRP rebate amounts have varied and decreased much more than increased.
Here are 9 tips from Green ID to make sure you’re not gobbling up too much energy this Thanksgiving!
1. Turn it down!
If you’re planning on having plenty of people over for your feast, lower the thermostat a few degrees before they arrive. The combination of warm guests and food will compensate for your decreased temperature.
2. Your refrigerator is running...
Take a look at your refrigerator doors! Firstly, keep an eye on them to make sure that they are closed firmly. Secondly, test them to make sure the gaskets are in good shape. You can do this by closing the door on a dollar bill. If the dollar bill falls out or can be pulled out easily, your seals may need to be adjusted or replaced.
3. Check your pans!
Keep the lids on your pots and pans while cooking! This technique keeps more heat in and allows you to lower the heat of your burners a bit!
4.Use the microwave.
Go with your microwave instead of your oven when you can. Your microwave uses less than half the amount of energy that your traditional oven does and it cuts down on time.
5. You do not always have to preheat...
Preheating isn’t always necessary. Your oven doesn’t need to preheat when you’re using it to broil or roast. When your oven does require preheating, allow it to preheat for just five to ten minutes. Preheating the traditional oven for five to ten minutes should be plenty of time.
6. Close that oven door!
Keep that oven door closed! Every time you open that door up to check on your dish a large amount of heat is lost and it takes a considerable amount of energy to restore the heat in the oven.
7. Make your cooking time count.
Cook as much of your meal at one time as you can. While using your oven, try to cook multiple dishes at one time. Even if the cooking directions say that they’re supposed to be cooked at different temperatures, they can often be cooked together. If dishes are cooked within 25 degrees F of the directed temperature they will turn out just as good!
8. Self-cleaning is not always necessary.
Avoid using the self-cleaning option on the oven. Unless a deep clean is completely necessary, stay away from this feature. Instead, use a damp cloth with some dish soap. If you do decide to use this feature, start it right after you finish cooking while the oven is still hot.
9. Cool the Leftovers.
Allow your leftovers to cool down before putting them in the refrigerator. Letting the foods cool off a bit before placing them in your fridge means that it won’t need to work as hard or long.
You can find great heating and air conditioning contractors of all sizes. What makes a great HVAC contractor? Experience, caring about the quality of the work and good customer service are the magic ingredients that are easier said than done. Even if a AC contractor has all these ingredients that make up a great technician or contractor they probably do not have the experience or know how to solve home performance issues like the comfort problems or high energy bills. Many AC contractors default to adding a return in a hot room or blow and go (just blowing more insulation in the attic on top of whatever is existing) and it can leave homeowners short... not solving their comfort or efficiency issues.
Lack of Home Performance Know-How
Call it the Achilles heel of the HVAC industry but AC contractors have all but ignored home performance even though it has huge impacts on the effectiveness of new and existing AC units. Air conditioning contractors are getting pushed out of their comfort zone with home performance. Now not all AC contractors ignore the elephant in the room but many small and large AC companies do. How do we know this? When you perform over 2000 home energy audits you get to see all sorts of situations and get to fix all kinds of messes left over by HVAC contractors. Someone homeowners have trusted AC contractors who are highly recommended and put on a well deserved pedestal but talk to them about home performance, the HVAC poster child can turn into the jealous step sister Drazella and can end up making themselves look like fools. We have seen countless homes that have had "energy audits" done by HVAC contractors and who were supposed to have done home performance work including duct sealing, air barrier sealing, air sealing and insulation realignment. I was shocked to discover duct board put in the wrong location to create a thermal boundary in the attic and the AC contractor charged the customer for this! Their home performance work was done all wrong.
Wrong Airflow Recommendations
Installing a new high efficiency air conditioner is only as good as the old ductwork that is in the attic. In older homes, air conditioning systems were designed to match the old HVAC system and have the opportunity to be upgrades with the new unit. Too many air conditioning contractors just consider the unit, and ignore the ductwork. If the ductwork is only sized for a 4 ton system, but you are putting a 5 ton AC system on, your home will home get 4 tons of air! In Phoenix, this happens way too often and it leads to comfort, air quality and high energy bill complaints.
We've seen that air conditioning contractors typically love to add a return in a room when homeowners have a hot room in the summer time. We rarely see this work out as a good solution though, more often we are the ones getting calls from homeowners still having issues that are not fixed and AC contractors know just enough to make the problem worse but not enough to actually fix it. Proper airflow recommendations can fix a hot room, but it takes a whole home approach and the experience to know which recommendations to install.
For HVAC contractors
This section is for air conditioning and heating contractors to help understand and practice home performance more proficiently. Just like it would be silly for homeowner to buy a set of gauges and interpret temperature/pressure charts without knowing what they are doing, without an understand of how a home works as a system, specific upgrades like insulation or ductwork sealing can be meaningless or worse, even harmful to a homeowner. To take it a step further, even if the owner of the company becomes BPI certified to do energy audits, an install crew that is used to doing new AC installs day in and day out, may be clueless as to how to create a proper thermal barrier in the attic, or how to run a room pressure test to measure the effects of air sealing a home. Without careful planning and oversight of a crew, their energy efficiency installation work can be a waste of a homeowners money.
What commonly happens is that the AC contractor performs an energy audit with an agenda but their recommendations come out narrow and cookie cutter... they are the same for each house. Then the installation crew that does the work doesn't know how to do it properly or has too little oversight to correct mistakes as they occur and the work is done wrong. In the home performance, energy efficiency industry we have a saying that "99% right is 100% wrong" and it's critical that energy efficiency work gets done right the first time. Why? Well when you blow a bunch of insulation over bad work, it becomes hard to find the mistakes and we may never get a second chance to fix the contractors problems.
Unless you are doing the work yourself, or can check it was done right before and after the insulation goes in, it's best not to get into home performance because you are likely hurting more customers than helping them. While there is no denying that home performance and heating and air conditioning are complimentary and should be done as pairs, home performance is a different animal entirely and requires staff dedicated to its success. That means if you decide to offer home performance upgrades, you'll need at least one dedicated staff to perform home energy audits, lead a crew to ensure the job is done correctly and set up systems and checks to ensure that it gets done right the first time. What systems and checks should you use? That answer is found from actually doing the field work and learning where the pitfalls are and where guys most often make mistakes or take shortcuts, find hiring a manager who has that experience.
There is nothing wrong with offering to add another return to a hot room, or dabble in airflow recommendations but just realize that no one solution is likely going to solve your customers true issues like a whole home performance solution can.
Polyurethane spray foam is a type of insulation that has been growing in popularity a lot throughout the last few years. People have been flocking to this product because of its many benefits which include its quick application, resistance to harsh weather and diverse climates, everlasting density, and it’s quick payback in energy sayings compared to other types of insulation. Within this spray foam family are two types of sprays: Open cell and closed cell.
Open cell spray foam can be identified by is fuller body compared to closed cell spray foam. This fuller and lighter body is caused by the material expanding once applied to a surface. This quality makes this insulation great for hard to reach places. This type of spray foam has a R-value of about 4.21 per inch. Open cell spray foam is the less common type of polyurethane insulation.
Closed cell spray foam can be identified by its denser and thinner body. This type of insulation does expand, but only slightly compared to the open cell option. Because it is fairly dense its R-value is quite high at about 6.7 per inch. Closed cell polyurethane has a higher resistance to extreme cold temperatures and moisture build up as well. It is the more expensive and more commonly used spray foam insulation.
Both of these polyurethane spray foams have their advantages. In fact, after reading through the specifics, you may have a clear winner in your mind but the truth is that all homes and areas are different. The biggest component of your decision should be what the design of your home and your climate requires. Green ID serves Phoenix and the surrounding valley and because of this, we don’t experience extremely low temperatures and there’s typically no moisture to deal with.
At Green ID we almost always use open cell spray foam unless there is a space restriction of some sort. For example, we will use closed cell polyurethane spray foam in block walls or when injecting foam into the exterior wall. Closed cell spray foam is typically better but costs twice as much and because of our unique climate here in the valley of Arizona, it’s actually preferable to use open cell spray foam insulation on your home.
Have more questions on the differences between the two? Leave a comment below or reach out to use at 602-926-1650.
When temperatures soar, the natural inclination is to reach for the thermostat. But this can also trigger an out-of-control power bill. Before you crank up the air-conditioning to keep your bedroom cool, consider these tips to beat the heat without busting your energy bill budget.
A box window fan can help cool your bedroom, but only if used properly. If it’s cool outside, face the fan to blowing inwards to pull in the cooler air. If it’s hotter outside than in, face it to blow out to suck warm room air from the window. If you have a ceiling fan, set it to rotate counter-clockwise and run at a higher speed. It’ll suck warm air up and towards the ceiling away from you sleeping in the bed.
Leave some space
If you and your sleep partner are cuddlers and love to spoon, you might want to rethink your sleep posture on hot nights. Make sure you have a good quality mattress with no sags so that you won’t roll in towards each other. Bodies close to each other in bed are like kindling in a fire. Place a pillow between you so you won’t end up touching. That alone can give you a much cooler sleep experience.
Close the drapes
When you keep your room cooler all day, it’ll naturally be cooler at night. That means closing your curtains and blinds. Single pane windows lose 12-30% more heat than double-paned glass, so if you have basic windows, closing the drapes blocks sunlight that will heat your room. After dark, you can open them to catch any cool night breezes. Also, consider upgrading your windows.
Switch to seasonal bedding
Just as you swap your wardrobe from warmer to cooler options when the seasons change, do the same for your bedding. Some sheets and blanket materials are better suited for Fall and Winter. In hot months, bamboo sheets and bedding are cooler. Avoid polyester and other synthetics. Microfiber and moisture wicking smart fabric are other top hot weather bedding choices.
Invest in cooling upgrades
If your bedroom is on the top floor, extra insulation between the roof and your room can cool it down. If your attic is a hot zone, an attic fan can cool the bedroom and whole house. If you don’t have energy-efficient windows and don’t want to install them now, you can use plastic film to seal the windows and prevent heat transfer in hot months. Consider planting a shade tree outside the window.
Adjust your body temperature
Humanity has lived most of its span without the benefit of AC, so you can cool your body in addition to cooling your room. Don’t eat large meals. Stay hydrated and avoid caffeine and alcohol. Choose loose moisture-wicking or natural fabrics. Go barefoot and avoid hats indoors. Apply cold compresses to the wrist, temple, and neck to trigger the hypothalamus to cool your body.
If you’re committed to lowering your energy consumption and costs, with a few thoughtful changes, you can achieve a cooler bedroom. Remember, you might need to experiment and see which works best for you and allow your body time to adjust to the new reality of not relying on air conditioning for comfort.
Amy Highland is a sleep expert at SleepHelp.org. Her preferred research topics are health and wellness, so Amy's a regular reader of Scientific American and Nature. She loves taking naps during thunderstorms and cuddling up with a blanket, book, and cats.
Going solar is perhaps the the largest expression of energy independence, sustainability and energy savings homeowners can do. If you have solar power or have ever considered going solar, it's also important to consider how the utility companies feel about photovoltaics because unfortunately, installing solar alone is only considering half of the bigger picture.
As solar power customers, do you know what is happening in Arizona that could affect your savings? Most solar power users intend to use solar power as a way to save money, but this could be changing as the Arizona Corporation Commission members set rates and other policies for power companies. APS and SRP may seem like they are favor of solar power, but but have been quietly working to kill solar by taking away rebate incentives, forcing demand based energy plans and killing pro-solar bills at the State level. These changes directly affect your energy bills. We have seen homes with full solar that should satisfy 70% of their summer energy bills be hit with $300-$400 bills because of demand charges.
No matter how APS and SRP dance around the cons of solar, residential solar directly takes away their business of selling electricity. When a homeowner has solar equipment and produces most of their own energy, they take away the bulk of their business from the power companies. This means that non-solar customers are the ones supporting the majority of the power grid. The power companies want the non-solar customers to pay the excess that is not being paid by the solar customers. The companies claim that rate hikes are necessary to keep them in business, but what amount should non-solar customers be expected to pay, and are the companies being fully transparent about rate hikes?
AZ Central reported that “APS described the rate hike last year as averaging 4.5 percent on residential customers” and "raised their bills and average of “$6 per month”. Although, customers have found their bills to be significantly higher than the figures APS described. When we compared APS's new vs old rate plans, we found an average of 56% increase.
A View From Non-Solar Customers
On the non-solar side, customers should not necessarily be penalized for not using solar energy, because they are the ones largely supporting the grid. If the number of non-solar customers continues to dwindle, then the cost will fall on those than cannot or will not switch over to solar. These customers may not want to switch due to factors such as renting the property that they purchase power for, or their distaste for the look of solar panels on their property.
A View From Solar Customers
On the solar side, customers may be paying more for the power they do not generate themselves. Typically the solar equipment produces the majority of the power they use, but any extra power must be purchased from the power companies. The rate hikes makes it so that they might not be saving enough money to make their lease of the solar equipment worth it (Phoenix New Times, 2013). Solar power is still an attractive investment because as of now and for the next several decades it will continue to save residents money. It will also provide benefits for people who are interested in environmental sustainability or people who want to go off the grid completely.
The important action point now is to be aware of what the power companies are trying to accomplish and how it affects non-solar and solar customers alike. The power companies ultimately want to be able to make money, and their main way of achieving this objective is raising the rates. It will be important as the ACC begins to discuss this topic that the rates set do not hurt solar customers for choosing an option that proves more sustainable, but also does not severely impact those still directly tied to the grid.
Do you notice one room just doesn’t cool like the rest of the house... that one room remains uncomfortably hot even if you have the air conditioner blasting down to 74 degrees?... Temperature differences in homes are a common occurrence but can be difficult to find the cause and solution. Typically a specialty contractor like an air conditioning company, insulation or window company is called out and their one and only solution is to offer their product as the fix. This approach rarely works because while those companies are knowledgeable about their specific products, finding the cause of the single hot room involves a deeper knowledge of all the systems in your home and how they work together.
For example, let’s say you keep your bedroom doors closed and notice a good amount of air blowing out under the door when the air is on. You have 10” of insulation in your attic, but where you are from in the Midwest, 18” is code so you think your current levels are too low. An air conditioning contractor may tell you that another supply register in the room will help to deliver more air to the room and keep it cool. An insulation contractor will recommend more insulation but doesn’t sound too convincing because he himself believes that you won’t see much of a difference, he just cares about his commission. A window company will tell you how durable and seal tight their windows are, even though your windows are on the east side of the house and get only the morning sun, he is convinced his product is the best on the market and even has special discounts and financing available. Tackling the hot room problem like this is like looking for a boat at the airport.
What an energy audit would discover by measuring the room pressures is that the airflow in the room needs a place to escape first, and that just like blowing air into a bottle you can’t blow any more air in the bottle unless you let some out. The room is getting hot because the cool air can’t get in until more is able to escape and circulate back to the return. Following the air conditioning contractor’s advice, adding another supply register will only worsen the problem. Following the insulation contractors advice additional insulation won’t have a big impact if you have more than R26 existing but they won’t tell you that. Nor will the window rep mention that your window is not the major cause of your room getting hotter than others… say it together, “it takes a whole home approach.”
That said here are the top 5 causes an energy auditor might recognize that would cause your one room to be getting hotter than others in the summer. See what we can do for you with our $49 energy audit special by calling our office today at (602) 926-1650.
Bad Duct Design and Installation
It’s obvious when the hottest room in the house is the furthest away from the unit because the cold air has to travel far to reach its final resting place. But what about rooms that are close to the air handler, why would those rooms be hotter than others? Again we can likely blame a bad duct design. Either too many wye splits, bad placement of the other ducts off of the supply plenum, kinks, or ductwork leakage can throw the airflow out of balance and cause a hot room. A duct design perfectly installed per design specifications can still have major flaws just like a perfectly designed system but poorly installed. Each have their own built in flaws... a poorly installed system can have duct leakage, improper placement of duct collars and kinks. A poorly design duct system will have too many wye splits, restrictive registers, no plenum boxes and undersized ducts. Flex ducts are so easy to install that anyone can do it and unfortunately contractors just do the minimum required to pass inspection, which as you probably know leaves homeowners holding the short end of the stick.
Wrong Duct Size
Duct sizing is important because ductwork that is sized too small is like having high blood pressure, the AC system becomes stressed to try to fit a large volume of air down a small hole and not enough air gets delivered to the rooms. Ductwork that is too large is like having low blood pressure where your airflow won’t be able to “throw” itself across the room and leave the room only partially cool. In two story homes with both air handlers or furnaces in the attic, the supply ducts tend to be too small on the 2nd floor system. On almost every home, the returns also tend to run too small also. This is bad because it can make a 5 ton system only receive 4 tons of air and over stress the system.
If you feel plenty of air coming in the room but it seems like your hot room can’t hold that air in the room for a long period of time, the cause of the hot room could be an insulation issue. It’s not just low insulation that causes this problem either, how the insulation is installed is just as important as how much you have. This chart shows your insulation performance gets cut by 50% if there is just a 5% gap in the insulation anywhere around the home.
A thermal camera scan will uncover these insulation misalignments in areas that our auditors can’t get to and a good visual insulation can verify how well the insulation is aligned in areas that are accessible. A home insulated to Energy Star Standards will keep all the cool air in the home and make the AC system run less.
If you notice bird vents on the perimeter of your home or have any changes in ceiling height around the hot room, those are red flags for our auditors. Bird vents are to ventilate the attic but that same ventilation can wind wash the insulation back 1-2 feet from the perimeter of the house, leaving the attic bare in those areas. Insulation contractors are often confused what to do with any changes in ceiling height. Sometimes contractors will make a tent of insulation over a dropped soffit or just leave a decorative shelf completely bare of insulation.
Sun Struck Windows
Surprisingly in Arizona, our homes get more heat gain through sun struck windows than from the attic! Although we have never fixed a hot room by adding a shade screen alone, it will certainly help. And despite what a window contractor may tell you, you do not need to replace your windows to reduce the heat gain coming through them. Window film or a shade screen is all the window needs to reduce the heat gain. Shade screens are the most effective at reducing the heat gain into the home, even more effective than new windows, but they will darken the room. Window film comes in a clear film and is less effective than shade screens but is still more effective than interior blinds. Replacing your windows should be done for aesthetics or noise reduction, but never for cost savings alone. You’ll never get your money back on new windows.
Homes older than 1970 with block walls have zero insulation in them. You’ve probably felt the heat coming off the walls well into the night. By injecting closed cell spray foam into the sun struck walls, you’ll get exponential heat reduction. Block wall homes will typically have the registers above the ceiling and by closing the registers off you can direct more air into the hot room.
Quick Fixes That Help Keep Your House Comfortable and AC Running Well
Have solar prices been going down lately? The answer is yes! Solar power prices have been dropping faster than anyone expected. Experts initially underestimated the drop in prices and now believe they will drop down even quicker as time passes!
CleanTechnica has revealed that a solar panel per watt in 1975 was $101.05, while more than 40 years later, the price in 2015 was just $0.61.
Bloomberg New Energy Finance's Expert Jenny Chase, had predicted that a solar module that was priced from 62 cents/watt in 2015, will drop to the range of 21 cents/watt by 2040!
These figures have since been reduced even further, with an average solar module sold to a utility scale project in 2017 being about 35 cents. This will drop to 32 cents by the end of 2018, and drop to 31 cents in 2019.
As to some reasons why: the biggest factors resulting in the sharp drop come from the combination of fierce competition and technological advances in every part of the solar panel technology sector. These are being fed through to auction prices for government tenders throughout the world and bidders are seeing plenty of return on their speculation about module prices and EPC costs.
Solar power is going to dominate the energy sector this century. The question is just how quickly it will bring down costs and take over the world. Yet again, the answer seems to be: quicker than people thought.
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