2014 August Newsletter

Look at what’s new this month:


Message from David Wilson, Director, Utah Energy Conservation Coalition:

The following article emphasizes the gap between what homeowners say about saving energy and what they really want when it comes to smarthouse technology.  Written by Jeff St. John for greentechmedia.com August 27, 2014.

What Americans Really Want From Their Smart Homes

Smartphone-enabled, security-minded, and no monthly fees

U.S. homeowners would prefer a smartphone-enabled, do-it-yourself platform for home automation over a closed, subscription-based system — and in either case, they care a lot more about security and peace of mind than they do about saving on their energy bills.

These are some of the findings from a survey released Wednesday by home improvement giant Lowe’s, which asked 2,000 U.S. residents to rank their expectations of what a “smart home” of the future should look like. While very few Americans actually live in such homes, Lowe’s is competing with companies like Staples and Best Buy, Comcast and AT&T, ADT and Vivint, Apple and Google/Nest that are all trying to supply the right combination of technology and service to break open the market.

Many of the survey’s findings will come as little surprise to people who have been following the home automation industry over the past few years. For example, while utilities have been trying to get customers to engage in energy efficiency through smart home technology, Lowe’s survey finds yet again that security is by far the top reason why people want home automation.
The ability to monitor your home while you’re away ranks as the second most appealing feature of home automation, while cutting costs and lowering energy bills ranks third, right above general convenience and protection against fires, floods and other emergencies.

That doesn’t mean that energy efficiency can’t be an end result of home automation bought for security or convenience, of course. “People argue that consumers can’t be bothered saving energy, and our own work suggests there are some things that are much higher up on their list of priorities,” Kevin Meagher, VP and GM of Lowe’s smart home division, said in an interview this week. According to Meagher, the question is, “How do we give them ways to [achieve] savings, simply?”

This is a fundamental issue for home automation vendors like iControl and Alarm.com, which have found that people can be assisted in making energy-wise choices once they’re engaged in automation for security or convenience’s sake. Lowe’s has its own approach in the form of its Iris home automation platform, which integrates devices from vendors such as Honeywell, Schlage, First Alert, and Whirlpool through a hub that links with the home’s broadband connection.

It’s a similar technology setup to many of the broadband-connected platforms on offer today — but it also has some key differentiators. One big one is that Lowe’s Iris platform comes without monthly fees — at least at first. Meagher described it as a “freemium” model, in which simple automation features come for free along with purchase of the smart home hub and add-ons like smart thermostats, door locks and light switches, while more advanced features can be had for a fee of around $10 a month.

In either case, however, Lowe’s Iris customers can opt to drop the premium service at any time — something that the subscription-based platforms being offered by cable, telecom and home security providers like Comcast and ADT can’t claim. According to the Lowe’s survey, that could be an important distinction. While half of respondents said they’d like a DIY solution without monthly fee, only 21 percent said they’d prefer a professionally installed and monitored system that comes with a monthly fee.
That fits into the broader issue of cost, which remains the key issue for people considering smart home technology. Lowe’s found that 56 percent of respondents cite either cost or fees as the most important deciding factor, with 31 percent focused on monthly fee amount and 26 percent on cost of equipment. Ease of use was the third most important consideration at 13 percent, although Lowe’s noted that this figure doubles for people over 65 years old.

As for how to define convenience, the Lowe’s survey found that 70 percent of respondents “wish they could just control something in their home from their mobile device without getting out of bed” — a fairly appealing concept to anyone familiar to the feeling of remembering that they forgot to turn off the downstairs lights or lock the back door only after they’re tucked into bed

Besides bed, the main place people want to be able to control their home from is somewhere far away from it. Nearly two-thirds of respondent said they would like to monitor their children coming home from school, for instance, and more than half admit that they frequently forget to turn off the lights, lock the doors or reset the thermostats when they leave home, making a case for simple “home vs. away” settings that can take care of those tasks, and maybe save some energy at the same time.

Check our website for future Energy Star Webinars!

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So You Want / Need to Pass RESNET’s CAZ Tests?

By SLS | Published: July 28, 2014

By the end of this year all HERS Raters & Field Inspectors (RFI’s) in good standing must complete CAZ training & testing. While one can debate should they or shouldn’t they the die has been cast and the mandate has been made. If you wish to listen to an entire hour long presentation on this – feel free. If not feel free to scroll down for the salient points. but first lets start off with a checklist to help you easily pass the CAZ simulation portion.

CAZ Simulation Checklist:

Can I just start off and say those that scoffed at this idea (yea mea culpa) missed one of the biggest benefits. Sure it is a joke as it doesn’t really represent what you would experience in the field, but it does force one to stick to learning and following certain steps which is the hardest thing to teach and learn for most new people entering this field. So with that – the checklist to follow to get a 100% on the test. (Printable PDF Version)

Outside before moving on:

  • Safety Glasses On
  • Zero out & verify on Clipboard (Outside Checks):
    • CO Monitor
    • Combustion monitor
    • Gas snifter
  • Check for gas meter leak

NOTE: If CO Monitor goes off while inside – Stop testing, turn off appliances, open all exterior doors and windows and exit home. Appliance must be repaired before you can continue.
NOTE: Thermometer & recording temps only applies to training – it is not part of the simulation

Inside Initial Testing Steps:

  • Close front door if you did not “warp” in
  • Check gas leaks & verify on Clipboard (Gas Leak Detection):
    • Furnace
    • Water heater
    • Dryer
    • Fireplace
    • Stove
  • Open window in kitchen
  • Oven – check for food (open & close door – if item present just click on it)
  • Oven CO check – regular & ambient incl. Workscope for each section (Burners were removed in simulation part)
  • Turn oven off
  • Close window

Setup Worst Case: Baseline

  • Setup blower door (by clicking on box)
    • Open manometer & click reference tube on left
    • Click blower door that is setup to signal you placing tube outside
  • Check each room
    • “Physically” check each room & ensure windows are closed (bottom bathroom always open?) & fans are off (you can check fans via right panel – if lit they are on)
    • Close doors on way out
  • Go into CAZ room & close door – measure baseline & record it

NOTE: If there are 2 CAZ’s – measure for both & use slider at top

Setup Worst Case: Measurement

  • Double check your clipboard that the baseline was recorded
  • Turn all exhaust devices on using right panel
    • Oven exhaust
    • Upstairs Bath
    • Master Bath
    • Main Floor Bath
    • Laundry Room Fan
    • Dryer
  • Go to blower door & click on fan – set to 300 CFM to simulate fireplace
  • Check all doors starting as far from CAZ by opening
    • Watch manometer / check side panel
    • If pressure goes up, leave door open
    • If pressure goes down reclose the door
    • Record pressure & door locations (you can use the right panel to see which are “active”)
  • Turn air handler on & check pressure
    • Recheck all door positions like above
    • If pressure increased overall – leave as is, if it doesn’t or decreases turn air handler off & reset doors based on step above
  • Record “biggest” measurement & difference on clip board
  • Complete Workscope

Worst Case Testing: Water Heater

  • Turn Water Heater on High – scroll up before selecting smoke stick
  • Test for spillage – place smoke stick away (if it fails keep testing)
  • Use Combustion Analyzer (should be on far left icon) – select probe & place under draft hood, use pencil to record number (if either fails see note below)
  • Select correct “work scope answer”
  • Press power button on Combustion Analyzer (that puts it away)
  • Turn Water Heater to vacation & exit the appliance

NOTE – IF either tests “Fail,” record worst case numbers & then retest using spillage & combustion analyzer steps above but filling in Natural areas. DO NOT TEST in Natural if neither fails or you will lose points

Worst Case Testing: Furnace

  • Turn Furnace on at Thermostat
  • Test for spillage on Worst Case (yes even if Water Heater failed) — as an FYI your smoke stick doubles as a drill if you need to drill a pilot hole J
  • Place smoke stick away (like above if it fails keep testing)
  • Use Combustion Analyzer (should be on far left icon) – select probe & place under draft hood, use pencil to record number (if either fails see note above for Water Heater)
  • Select correct “work scope answer”
  • Press power button on Combustion Analyzer (that puts it away)
  • Exit from appliance
  • Turn furnace off by turning thermostat off – exit from appliance
  • Double check all items have been completed & exit from the simulation

A few quick notes:

  • First & Foremost – YOU ARE NOT REQUIRED TO DO CAZ TESTING on any house even if it has naturally drafted appliances as it is not part of the “rated minimum features”
  • If you became certified during 2013 / 2014 & completed these tests already you are good to go, this only applies to raters certified before the CAZ tests were included
  • As of the presentation date above (Early June) only 200 to 400 Pre-CAZ raters have taken the test with approximately 75-80% passing rate per RESNET

Important Dates:

  • As of January 1st, 2015 if you have not passed all the tests required you will be listed as Suspended in the Registry. (no it doesn’t matter if you have all your credits, renewed with your QA provider, etc., which you still need to take care of)
  • As of May 1st, 2105 you will be listed as Terminated, if CAZ tests are not passed

Required Tests/Training:

There are 3 main components to this:

  • Classroom & Field Training
    • In some cases this could be a simple 1/2 day item while in others you could be looking at 2 or more days – it all depends on what the training provider submitted to RESNET for approval for their “Rater” or RFI training courses.
    • Do you hold an active BPI Building Analyst certificate – if so provide this to your QA provider & this portion is no longer required. Envelope, Heating & other certificates DO NOT count – only Building Analyst
  • An online 25 question test similar to the Rater/RFI one took originally but based solely on the “Interim CAZ Testing & Workscope Guidelines” which ironically no longer apply after Jan. 1st.
    • Worried about memorizing it? Don’t, as you can use a copy saved local on your computer & just use Ctrl F to search for the term. For more – Test Taking Tips
  • The online simulation exam –
    • Fortunately you purchase it early and can practice on it till your heart is content (The simulation is good for one year – even after you take the test)
    • You can either purchase it from a training provider as part of a package or you can purchase it directly yourself for $199 (you still need a training provider to proctor this test & the one above)
    • I recommend going through each of the training portions & giving the full simulation a few run throughs with the checklist to be sure you have the steps down – as mentioned above you can either pull it up while doing the exam or use the printable version.

CAZ! CAZ!  RESNET CAZ Testing Deadlines Draw Near

By January 1st, 2015, certified HERS raters must pass both CAZ tests.   All raters that have not passed both CAZ tests by the deadline will be placed on suspension and unable to upload ratings to the registry.  While on suspension, the rater will have 120 days (4/30/2015) to pass both tests to remain a rater in good standing. 


If the CAZ tests are NOT passed by 4/30/2015 (120 grace period), then the rater is thereby revoked of rater certification and listed as “terminated” in the registry. 


RESNET asks that all Rating Providers clearly communicate the RESNET CAZ requirements and provide their raters support where appropriate.  Any Rating Provider that fails to communicate the CAZ requirements to their certified raters may be subject to disciplinary action. 


Please also note that RESNET will be only be able to offer limited support during the Holidays (Thanksgiving through New Year’s). 

A New Option Available for Office Lighting: LED Tube Lights to Replace FluorescentsRENTON, Wash., July 21, 2014 /PRNewswire/ —

Many lighting professionals and facility managers have long been puzzled on the question: What would happen if a maintenance crew re-inserts a fluorescent tube into a fixture converted to be used with an LED tube only. The answer is “it depends how the fixture is wired,” according to Matthew Maa, Sales and Market Manager at Aleddra, who performed a live safety demonstration at LightFair 2014 on this issue. Maa explains, “if the user retrofitted the fixture for single-ended LED tube and therefore converted the fixture to single-ended wiring, then inserting a fluorescent T8 into such fixture will immediately short the bi-pins of the fluorescent tube and thus damage the lamp. At 277V, this instantaneous electrical short may cause the fluorescent tube to explode.  We have seen these events occur.  In many cases, maintenance crews do not realize that the fixtures had been converted to single-ended wiring LED tubes.  The use of single-end power LED tubes for retrofit is a serious safety hazard, and a liability to employers.”

“However, retrofitting fluorescent fixtures with the Aleddra EasiRetrofit Double-End power tube, the original double-ended wiring of the fixture is intact. Nothing will happen when re-inserting a fluorescent tube into such a fixture. This is because there is no ballast to energize the fluorescent tube. If you missed out the live demo, here is a demo video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CeNq11KRR8

Some companies have recently re-introduced ballast-compatible LED tubes that keep the double-ended wiring of the fixture intact, effectively avoiding the drawback of single-ended LED tubes. However, there are two distinct limitations when considering ballast-compatible tube. First, these tubes still use ballast and the ballast consumes power. It is unlikely that all utility companies will offer incentives for such an energy-inefficient solution. Second, the ongoing maintenance and replacement of ballasts increases the cost of lighting maintenance, particularly when you have to utilize certified electricians as part of this maintenance proposition. This is a non-starter according to some facility managers at some Fortune 1000 companies.
Aleddra EasiRetrofit double-ended tube is safe for installation and maintenance, and does not use the energy-inefficient ballast. Moreover, the newly announced EasiRetrofit G3 tube has a field-replaceable driver. It enables the user to replace the driver when it dies, thus effectively doubling the tube lifetime to 10 years at an incremental cost.
Aleddra’s EasiRetrofit G3 tube comes with a universal driver, supporting 110V-277V input voltage. It is available in 4-ft and 2-ft lengths, and its color temperatures include 3000K, 4100K, 5000K, and 6000K. It is UL 1598C Classified for both U.S. and Canada, and has met DLC linear tube specifications for utility rebates.

For information on EasiRetrofit G3 LED T8 tube, checkout their website http://aleddra.com/

Energy Star Interim Policy Updates

The EnergyStar team is hard at work on Revision 08 of the Version 3 program requirements. These things always take a bit longer than planned, and are currently targeting a release in the second half of 2014.
As they work towards that goal, they have resolved several issues, the outcome of which can be used immediately even though the revisions won’t be formally incorporated into the Inspection Checklists until the release of Rev. 08. These are summarized below. The attachment contains the full Policy Record entries, which can also be found at: www.energystar.gov/newhomespolicyrecord. Finally, a short webinar will be held on August 28th at 1:00PM to walk through each of these issues. You can register to attend this webinar at: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/568685113.
As always, EnergyStar strive with each revision to be responsive to partner questions, to disseminate policy changes in a consistent manner, and to adapt the program as needed for success.

  • HVAC-R: Item 1.2.3 – Addition of tolerance for number of occupants

Change: A variance of ± 2 occupants will be added to Item 1.2.3 of this Checklist. This will maintain the original intent of ensuring that designers use an occupant count that generally reflects the Rated home, yet eliminate the majority of disruptions in the certification process related to this input.

  • HVAC-R: Item 4.1 – Increased total duct leakage limit for homes with only dedicated returns

Change: Given the collective input from multiple partners in cold climates, representing a wide range of opinions (i.e., from having no challenges with the current requirement to having significant challenges with the current requirement), an increased limit on total duct leakage will be provided for homes with a dedicated return in each bedroom, to maintain the overall original intent of this requirement while continuing to transform the marketplace.
To reflect this change, a single new Footnote will be added to Items 4.1.1 and 4.1.2 as follows:
“For a home with a dedicated return in each bedroom (i.e., not a bedroom pressure-balancing feature leading to a central return), the total Rater-measured duct leakage is permitted to be the greater of ≤ 6 CFM25 per 100 sq. ft. of CFA or ≤ 60 CFM25 at ‘rough-in’ or the greater of ≤ 12 CFM25 per 100 sq. ft. of CFA or ≤ 120 CFM25 at ‘final’.”

  • HVAC-R: Item 4.1 & 4.2 – Duct leakage limits for systems serving small spaces

Change: To address the challenges that partners are experiencing for systems serving small spaces, an absolute amount of allowed duct leakage will be added to the program requirements.
The current limit on total duct leakage at ‘rough-in’ will be revised to be the greater of ≤ 4 CFM25 per 100 sq. ft. of CFA or ≤ 40 CFM. The current limit on total duct leakage at final will be revised to be the greater of ≤ 8 CFM25 per 100 sq. ft. of CFA or ≤ 80 CFM. While these changes only impact the limits on total duct leakage, the current limit on leakage to outdoors will be aligned with the new limit on total duct leakage at ‘rough-in’ to simplify the overall policy regarding duct leakage.
Item 4.1 and 4.2 will be revised as follows to reflect these changes:
“4.1 Rater-measured total duct leakage meets one of the following two options:
4.1.1 Rough-in: The greater of ≤ 4 CFM25 per 100 sq. ft. of CFA or ≤ 40 CFM, with air handler & all ducts, building cavities used as ducts, & duct boots installed. In addition, all duct boots sealed to finished surface, Rater-verified at final.
4.1.2 Final: The greater of ≤ 8 CFM25 per 100 sq. ft. of CFA or ≤ 80 CFM, with air handler & all ducts, building cavities used as ducts, duct boots, & register grilles atop the finished surface (e.g., drywall, floor) installed.
4.2 Rater-measured duct leakage to outdoors the greater of ≤ 4 CFM25 per 100 sq. ft. of CFA or ≤ 40 CFM25.”
In addition, Footnote 17 will be revised to align with this intent. Finally, because the limit for leakage to outdoors will be revised in Item 4.2, Footnote 19 will be edited to remove the current allowance of ≤ 5 CFM25 per 100 sq. ft. of CFA in homes ≤ 1,200 sq. ft.

  • HVAC-R: Item 5.1 – Adjusted airflow verification tolerances

Change: To better reflect the limitations in commissioning and equipment accuracy at low airflow rates, and better reflect this Item’s overall intent of achieving a ventilation rate that is generally in the vicinity of the design airflow rate, Item 5.1 will be revised as follows:
“Rater-measured ventilation rate is within either ±15 CFM or ±15% of the HVAC contractor design value (2.11).”

  • HVAC-R: Item 2.8 – Higher pressure limit for bedrooms with design airflow ≥ 150 CFM

Change: The pressure balancing limit will be raised from 3 Pa to 5 Pa for bedrooms with a design airflow ≥ 150 CFM. In addition, to clarify the level of precision required to meet this item, EPA will clarify that the Rater-measured pressures shall be rounded to the nearest whole number to assess compliance. This signifies that a value of 3.4 Pa would meet the intent of this Item for rooms with a design airflow below 150 CFM, but a value of 3.5 Pa would not.

The Importance of Energy Raters Is Quickly Growing

Posted by Mike Collignon – Aug 25, 2014 

The focus on building energy use is probably the highest it’s been in 40 years. From corporations trying to cut operating expenses, to low-income homeowners trying to reduce their monthly utility bills, it’s not just about first-cost any more. Unfortunately, the lending process hasn’t adjusted to this new, all-encompassing perspective. Sustainable attributes rarely get assigned a value, and even if they do, it is not truly reflective of the overall value. The underwriting equation (PITI) doesn’t even consider utility/energy costs, which can be the 2nd largest monthly housing expense behind the principal & interest. Because of this flawed process, some view advanced energy codes and green building programs as a disincentive.

That’s where The Sensible Accounting to Value Energy (SAVE) Act comes into play. It calls for an updating of the HUD guidelines, which drive many U.S. mortgages. There are many business, industry, appraisers, state energy officers, builders and environmental groups who support this common-sense legislation. The big question remains: Will it ever pass Congress? Thankfully, there are other money-saving resources at the industry’s disposal. They include studies on lowered foreclosure rates and higher property values for energy-efficient homes, PACE financing, 203k programs, tax credits, updated energy codes and green building programs. While an energy rater typically provides concrete evidence of a structure’s energy savings, today’s energy rater needs to look beyond the scientific examinations & calculations. Conversing with underwriters, appraisers, real estate agents, mechanical contractors, homeowners and municipalities will help convey the value of a rater’s services. It will also build an identity and reputation amongst influential stakeholders. For more on this topic, the Green Builder® Coalition invites you to attend our EEBA session, “The Ever-Growing Importance of Energy Raters”, on Wednesday, September 24th at 10:15am CT. Register here. – See more at: http://www.greenbuildermedia.com/blog/the-importance-of-energy-raters-is-quickly-growing#sthash.waxpAdc3.dpuf

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