2015 January Newsletter


Message from David A. Wilson, Executive Director

EPA Announces New ENERGY STAR Tool for Homeowners to Save Money, Energy This Winter

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is launching its ENERGY STAR Home Advisor, an online tool designed to help Americans save money and energy by improving the energy efficiency of their homes through recommended customized and prioritized home-improvement projects.

“As we enter the winter months, homeowners can use our new ENERGY STAR Home Advisor to increase energy efficiency and save money while reducing greenhouse gas emissions that fuel climate change,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “When homeowners take advantage of this important tool and increase the energy efficiency of their homes, many families will notice savings on energy bills and improvements in the comfort of their homes.”

The updated ENERGY STAR Home Advisor guides the homeowner through a “do-it-yourself” energy assessment to create an ENERGY STAR home profile.  Based on the newly created profile, the Home Advisor provides customized, prioritized recommendations for improvements. From these recommendations, users can create their own to-do lists of projects such as adding insulation to the attic or replacing an HVAC air filter.

Over time, users can update their home profiles as they make improvements, see the positive environmental impacts of the changes they’ve made, get additional recommendations, and update their “to-do” lists for future projects. The home profiles can also be printed and used at the time of sale.

The announcement is part of EPA’s Energy Efficiency Action Week, during which EPA regional offices across the country will hold events to increase awareness about the energy and cost savings associated with energy efficiency upgrades, especially in the winter months.

More on EPA’s ENERGY STAR Home Advisor: www.energystar.gov/homeadvisor


Title Date and time
Residential ENERGY STAR Appliance Specification Update Tuesday, January 27, 2015; 3:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. EST
Key Mechanical Ventilation Concepts Tuesday, February 10, 2015; 1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m. EST
New Marketing Resources from ENERGY STAR Thursday, February 26, 2015; 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. EST


Posted by Cati O’Keefe
Jan 19, 2015 10:27:48 AM

In the face of nature’s power forces, creating tough housing that can handle nature’s extremes makes sense. Green Builder Media has just launched a web site devoted to the art and science of building homes that can withstand virtually anything.
Included are the documents, plans, articles and video guides to guide you through the process of putting up the strongest houses current technology allows.
And we’ve gathered some of the most useful information into a handy new ebook, Super Shelter, that you can download for free.
In this book, you’ll find a wealth of information about resilient housing through case studies of eight unique homes that showcase nonconventional structural systems, demonstrating the strength, efficiency, and durability that will see them through whatever the next century holds.
It includes detailed information on fire proofing, storm proofing, building for strength, providing energy in an emergency, and a host of products that you should consider if you are building a sustainable, durable green home. The book covers these building systems:

  • aerated autoclaved concrete
  • ClayStraw
  • TimberFrame
  • modular
  • DoubleShell Building system
  • log homes
  • rammed earth

While new technologies and building practices take center stage in the book, we haven’t forgotten that houses are put up by people. Safe job sites, realistic schedules, and being part of the new vanguard of housing is important to you tradespeople. And the having the right equipment for the job is up there in importance as well.
– See more at: http://www.greenbuildermedia.com/blog/super-shelter-super-resource-on-resilient-housing-and-a-chance-to-win#sthash.Q8XhFljg.dpuf

The Energy Conservatory Webinars Available

Many of our customers have requested PDF copies of our webinar presentations, and TEC is honoring that request. You can now download a PDF copy of select TEC webinar presentations from our website. These files can be found by clicking on Support/Training in the main navigation menu of our website, then by clicking on the Webinars and Other Resources box in the lower right corner of the Support and Training page.

Click here to see the presentations that are currently available.

Please note that TEC presentations are Copyright protected.

Upcoming webinar
TEC’s next webinar will air in January 2015 and will be on advanced duct leakage testing. An email will be sent out once this webinar is scheduled.

Thank you!

The Energy Conservatory

Are SIPs the Building Technology of the Future?
by David Wright, Originally Published in Mother Earth NewsAs an architect, I’ve been using structural insulated panels (SIPs) since 1992, when they were relatively new. Since then, I’ve designed several hundred residential and commercial projects using SIPs. In my opinion, they are superior to conventional framing systems in almost every way — SIPs are simply better insulated, stronger and faster to build with than standard stick-frame construction. SIPs also help conserve forest resources, because they produce almost no waste.

As worldwide timber quality and availability continue to decline and the costs of labor and energy increase, SIP construction should become more popular and cost-effective. I predict that in the next 10 years, the U.S. construction industry will adopt SIPs as the system of choice.

Advantages of SIPs

Structural insulated panels are typically composed of rigid foam insulation sandwiched between two skins of oriented strand board — kind of like a s’more. The exterior skins are attached to the foam core with a high-strength adhesive.
The foam core material is often expanded polystyrene — the same material used in ice chests and shipping “peanuts.” Some manufacturers use polyurethane or isocyanate foam cores. The skins can be plywood, metal or other rigid sheet materials, but oriented strand board is used by the majority of SIP manufacturers. The foam core serves as a spacer and insulator between the exterior skins. (Keep reading for more specifics about these materials, and their environmental impacts.)
Altogether, the structure acts as a monolithic whole — as opposed to stick-frame construction using 2-by-4s, where hundreds of individual nailed connections hold the studs and skins together. As a result, SIPs are twice as strong as a wood-framed house, which is a real advantage in locations that experience tornadoes or hurricane-force winds.
SIPs are also extremely energy efficient. Compared to a typical stick-frame house, a house built of SIPs will require about half the energy to heat and cool throughout the year in most climates. It’s not just the thickness of the polystyrene inside that makes SIPs more energy efficient — it’s that the whole panel is designed to function as one structural unit. The thermal “tightness” and resistance to heat flow work with the insulation value to achieve exceptional comfort and energy efficiency.

Read more: http://www.motherearthnews.com/diy/structural-insulated-panels-zm0z11zphe.aspx#ixzz3PgIS6dve


Winter is coming, and no, that’s not just a quote from Game of Thrones. With cooler weather on the way, many homeowners are starting to winterize their homes. While caulking or extra insulation could save a buck or two on energy costs, the best way to prepare your home for winter is by installing new windows.

Old windows can be the No. 1 source of heat loss. Not only do new windows improve a home’s aesthetic appeal and resale value, but today’s windows are also made to be much more energy-efficient. While the window installation cost may be more than the average repair costs, the new windows are sure to pay off in the long run. To combat this, we’ve broken down all the costs that go into window installation. While there are numerous factors that affect the overall price, such as type, quantity and quality, we have calculated the average price for window installation near you.

Window Installation Cost

According to our window installation cost estimator, the average price to install new windows is $4,264. Nonetheless, there are numerous factors affecting this overall price, and the type of window plays a big role in the overall cost. Storm windows and double hung windows, for example, are known to be more expensive because they provide extra insulation. As you know, this would decrease your heating costs. On the other hand, single pane windows such as casement windows and picture windows are more affordable, but do not provide as much insulation.

Regardless, most homeowners tend to install multiple window types throughout the home. As covered in 6 Window Styles You Need To Know About, each has its own set of pros and cons that all homeowners should consider before installing new windows.

Another huge factor in the window installation equation is the number of windows. Window companies prefer to install multiple windows at once, and they rarely install one window for a new client. Therefore, many homeowners on a budget tend to replace or install new windows a few at a time as opposed to trying to replace them all at once. Many window installation companies offer special deals to homeowners who opt for entire window replacement.

Window Material Costs

The cost of materials will be included in your window installation cost. Glass panes will not fluctuate the price too much, but the window frame will. The surrounding frame can be made from all kinds of materials. Vinyl, wood, and aluminum are among the most commonly used materials for window frames and each has its pros and cons. Wood is very popular nowadays, but aluminum and vinyl are generally cheaper. Bear in mind that framing is not easy. Having specialists install windows helps ensure that the products are installed correctly.

How to Pick Energy-Efficient Windows

If you’re installing new windows or replacing your old ones, you might as well put in energy-efficient windows. Why? Long-term savings will undoubtedly offset the higher installation cost.
Before you call a local contractor, have an idea as to what kind of windows you want. All homeowners must:

  • Look for the Energy Star label and rating
  • Frame the window correctly
  • Understand the different types of window glazing
  • Choose window styles based on how they operate


Like many other projects, the size and scope of work will play a huge role in the overall price of your window installation. Just remember, your windows can greatly affect the look of your home, as well as your heating and energy costs. Do yourself a favor, bite the bullet, and go with energy-efficient windows.

Read more: http://www.improvenet.com/a/how-much-do-new-windows-cost#ixzz3PfyU76fo