Wednesday, November 30, 2011

NCEEA Offers Free HVAC Workshops for ENERGY STAR Version 3

The North Carolina Energy Efficiency Alliance is offering FREE workshops for HVAC contractors and technicians, home energy raters, HVAC suppliers, and home builders. The ENERGY STAR Homes program is changing January 1, 2012 and we want to help you learn the new HVAC requirements and get your business up to speed. These free 4-hour workshops are from 8am-12pm and include coffee and a light breakfast.

    Topics that will be covered:
  • ENERGY STAR basics
    • Proper equipment sizing and component matching
    • Sealing ducts to minimize leaks
  • HVAC System Quality Installation Contractor and Rater Checklists
  • Administrative Requirements for participation in ENERGY STAR
  • Importance of communication between HVAC contractor, rater, and builder
ENERGY STAR v3 defines new guidelines that continue to make new homes more energy efficient. New changes include a HVAC Quality Installation checklist for the HVAC contractor and HERS rater ensuring that HVAC systems are installed using industry best practices and perform at rated efficiencies. This verification of efficiency measures means more definitive savings for the homeowner. The ENERGY STAR New Homes program is nationally recognized and makes it easy for homebuyers to select energy efficient homes.

Click on the course location near you for more information and to register, or contact Nicholas Hurst at 828-262-8331 or

Monday, November 21, 2011

Home Performance Industry Applauds New Energy Efficiency Tax Credit Legislation

New proposed tax credit would boost job creation in hard-hit construction sector and help reduce America’s energy consumption

Washington, DC — Efficiency First, a national trade association of home performance companies and industry allies, applauds Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) for their bipartisan bill to create a performance-based energy efficiency tax credit for homeowners.  The Cut Energy Bills at Home Act was introduced in the Senate earlier today.

The Cut Energy Bills at Home Act, if passed, would create the nation’s first performance-based energy efficiency tax credit for home retrofits.  For the first time, homeowners would be rewarded with a federal tax credit for projects that achieve a percentage reduction in energy use, rather than for installing a certain piece of equipment. The legislation would provide tax credits of $2000-$5,000 for qualified residential energy efficiency retrofits that save 20-50% respectively, up to 30% of the cost of the retrofit.

“This performance-based legislation is crucial to the success of the growth home performance industry while also sending an important message to homeowners:  save more energy, get more tax credit, save more money,” said Efficiency First Executive Director Jay Murdoch.   “We urge Congress to pass the 25E tax credit which would go a long way toward spurring growth and employment of home performance contractors while saving energy and reducing utility bills.”

Greg Thomas, CEO of Performance Systems Development and Chairman of Efficiency First, added: “This legislation makes ground-breaking strides at accessing the current infrastructure and best practices of the home performance to provide common-sense financial savings to consumers for whole house energy improvements.”

To coincide with today’s introduction of the legislation, Efficiency First has launched a grassroots effort to build support for the bill. More information can be found at  An Efficiency First representative is available for comment.

Efficiency First is the trade association for America’s home performance industry – uniting home performance companies, building product manufacturers and related businesses and organizations in the escalating fight against global warming and rising energy costs.

Efficiency First represents its members in public policy discussions at the state and national levels, to promote the benefits of energy efficiency retrofitting and to help our companies grow do the industry can meet customers’ demand for quality residential energy improvements. For more information:

Friday, November 11, 2011

Residential Energy Efficiency and Mortgage Financing

The following article is from the current issue of Carolina Banker magazine written by Marshall Dunlap. He is a residential green building specialist for the NC Solar Center and the NC Energy Efficiency Alliance. To view the complete magazine, click here.

Utility payments represent a significant yet underappreciated slice of the average homeowner’s budget. These heating, cooling and other energy related expenditures accumulate over the lifetime of every home. Despite this substantial long-term financial liability, traditional mortgage lending practices fail to take into account the degree to which a home’s energy efficiency can significantly impact the borrower’s ability to service his or her mortgage debt. This failure is a lost opportunity for lenders, homeowners and by extension, the American homebuilding industry.

According to figures quoted by the institute for Market Transformation, in 2008 the average American homeowner spent $2,278 to heat, cool or otherwise keep the energy flowing in his or her residence. By comparison, that same average homeowner spent $1,879 on property taxes and $791 on homeowner’s insurance in the same year. Taxes and insurance, along with the principal and interest in a mortgage loan, are routinely accounted for by lenders in determining the amount that a borrower can afford. Why not energy costs?

Traditional mortgage lending treats energy expenditures as if they were a predictable and discretionary component of a household budget. it is assumed that – like food, transportation, and entertainment – these costs can be reduced if necessary in order to pay the mortgage. This presumption is inaccurate in many ways.

Some occupant behavior, like adjusting the thermostat and taking shorter showers, can indeed reduce a home’s energy consumption. But a household’s energy costs are largely determined by the building’s construction details and the efficiency of its equipment and other building components. These factors can vary significantly from home to home, and the failure of lenders to recognize this variance when writing a mortgage means that a considerable portion of a borrower’s monthly expenses are not accurately considered in determining what size home loan he or she can afford.

A modest investment in energy efficiency features during the construction of a home can typically result in a reduction of 30% or more in energy costs. Applying this to the $2,278 average annual energy expense quoted above would account for $683 in annual savings. Over the life of a standard 30-year mortgage serviced on this home, even the simple accumulation of these savings amounts to over $20,000. For the homeowner, these savings could be applied instead to mortgage payments and other investments. For lenders, this translates into a more attractive client to finance.

The first and most straightforward approach to ensuring energy efficiency in a home being built or purchased is to look for the ENERGY STAR ® label. ENERGY STAR homes incorporate high performance windows, tight envelope construction and duct systems, effective insulation and efficient equipment and appliances. Underscoring all of these strategies is a system of third-party verification by independently certified energy raters.

The cost of implementing measures capable of achieving a 30% reduction in energy consumption varies, depending on the size and design of the home, its site conditions, the experience of the builder and many other factors. But data shows that with careful planning and engagement of a qualified energy rater and a responsible homebuilder, $2,000-$3,000 of additional investment can meet this goal. A conservative analysis demonstrates that the initial investment required to reduce a home’s energy costs by $450 annually can add roughly $100 per year to the mortgage payments. Energy efficiency is an investment that offers payback from the moment the lights are turned on.

So why should lenders care? Lower homeowner utility bills mean that more money is available to pay the mortgage. A green, energy efficient home is generally built better and more durable, and therefore less likely to incur unexpected maintenance costs. With properly designed fresh air ventilation, it will also have better indoor air quality, making it less likely to promote health problems and their financial burdens arising from “sick building syndrome.” Finally, recognizing the financial asset of energy efficiency in the home and the resulting enhanced ability of the homeowner to afford a mortgage increases the lender’s ability to safely lend to less risky borrowers.

Mortgage lenders should embrace the opportunity to offer Energy Efficient Mortgages – loans that recognize that the homeowner will spend less on utility bills and can thus afford larger mortgage payments which service the initial investment in energy efficiency upgrades. investing in high-quality, efficient ENERGY STAR homes offers payback for everyone involved.

Friday, November 4, 2011

HERS Raters: Provide an Integral Step in Achieving an Energy Efficient Home

For a home to have the ENERGY STAR label it must have a HERS rating to ensure the house meets the required guidelines. The HERS Index is a scoring system established by the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) and is an easy way for a homebuyer to identify a home that is more energy efficient than a standard home. So how does a home get a HERS rating?
Profile: Sam Galphin, Home Energy Rater
Employed at: Performance Point, Indian Trail, NC
A full service building performance contracting firm
Certifications: HERS Rater, Quality Assurance (QA), certified mold inspector & certified mold remediator
Last Continuing Credits Earned: ENERGY STAR Version 3 online training course
Lowest HERS rating given: 37, achieved by 2x6 walls, geothermal system & solar system
Trends: The demand for HERS ratings and ENERGY STAR is increasing. Although, more education and outreach is needed to help the public understand the value of efficient homes.
Approach on Projects: Performance Point uses a customer-centered approach as opposed to HERS- centered. Safety and durability are considered first with the next angle focusing on comfort and efficiency. Efficiency is emphasized through insulation, advanced framing, proper air sealing, and duct sealing. We help our customers find a happy compromise of performance and value…we call that the Performance Point.
Upcoming Training: Builders, Raters, HVAC, Framers and Insulators are encouraged to attend Sam’s workshop November 30 in Charlotte. Click here to register.
            A Home Energy Rater is a certified contractor who performs a standardized evaluation of the energy efficiency of your home. It includes an on-site inspection, air leakage tests of your home and duct work, computer analysis with estimated savings and a home energy rating. Home Energy Raters provide independent third-party verification during construction that is critical in ensuring high quality installation of energy efficiency features in homes.
            The HERS Index is a nationally recognized system for inspecting and calculating a home’s energy performance. Home energy ratings can be used in a variety of ways in the housing industry. Most green home certification programs require a HERS rating such as ENERGY STAR, NAHB Green, and NC Healthy Built Homes. HERS ratings are recognized in the mortgage industry and are a way for you to qualify for an Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM) which saves you money. When a home is being certified, it holds builders to a higher standard and ensures that you are getting an efficient, well-built house.  
            The NCEEA supports the home building industry stakeholders which creates value in the marketplace on the services Home Energy Raters provide. Stimulating demand for high-efficiency homes increases the demand for Home Energy Raters. Home Energy Raters
who join the Alliance will have a listing and link on our website as a member of the Alliance. The Alliance is currently offering $50 rebates per single family home and $20 per multi-family unit to Member-Raters who submit ENERGY STAR qualified homes to the NCEEA online database. For more information on how to get your rebates and to join the Alliance visit our website at