Energy News, Information & Case Studies

The Building Energy blog is your source for energy news in Vermont. Read through a collection of energy articles on a variety of topics such as energy efficiency, solar power, weatherization, insulation, heat pumps and construction. With over thirty-five years of experience in the energy industry, Building Energy is your source for energy news, facts and information.

10 Compelling Reasons You Should Go Solar

Solar Panels on Roof

Deciding whether or not to go solar is a major life decision with significant upfront cost that requires careful consideration. Energy from the sun can power your home while reducing or eliminating your electric bill, fuel your electric car and even help to create a cleaner, healthier environment for everyone. But wait… there’s more… lots more!

Here are 10 compelling reasons to go solar today:

1. Protect the environment

Have you been wondering what it is you can do to help save the planet? Reduce your reliance on fossil fuels by harnessing the power of the sun! It’s a clean source of energy that doesn’t produce greenhouse gasses or other harmful emissions.

2. Save Money

While the initial investment to go solar may be large, in the long run using solar power will help save money. Solar will drastically reduce or eliminate your electricity bills. Harness the power of the sun to generate free power during your system’s 25 plus year lifespan. Even if you don’t generate 100% of the energy you consume, you will still drastically reduce your bills and save a lot of money.

3. Earn a great return on an investment

Don’t look at solar as an expense, but rather one of the best ways you can invest with returns rivaling those of more traditional investments like stocks and bonds. Take advantage of the Federal Tax Credit to greatly reduce your initial investment.

4. Increase your property value

New studies have shown that homes equipped with solar energy systems have higher property values and sell quicker than non-solar homes. Appraisers are increasingly beginning to take solar installations into consideration when placing values on homes, and as homebuyers become more educated about solar, the demand for properties equipped with solar will continue to grow.

5. Protect against rising energy costs

One of the most clear-cut benefits of investing in solar now is the ability to hedge utility prices. You can fix your utility rate and protect against unpredictable increases in electricity costs. You will no longer be at the mercy of your utility providers. They can raise energy costs all they want but you won’t be affected because you are generating your own power.

6. Help Boost US energy independence

The sun is a nearly infinite source of energy and a key component of achieving energy independence in the United States. By increasing our capacity to generate electricity from the power of the sun, we also insulate our country from unpredictable price fluctuations in global markets that are notoriously unstable.

7. Create jobs and help your local economy

The Solar Foundation sites Vermont as a national leader in the solar industry, ranking third for the number of solar jobs per capita. According to the 2016 Solar Job Census, 1 out of every 50 new jobs added in the United States was created by the solar industry, representing 2% of all new jobs. This growth is expected to continue.

8. Solar energy can be used anytime of the day

There is a myth that solar power can only be used when the sun is up and shining. Since the majority of homes with solar power are connected to the grid, you do not risk a power outage at night or on a cloudy rainy day. Through the process of net-metering the excess solar energy you generate that is not used to power your home is sent to the grid and you receive credits to use when the sun is down and your panels are not generating power.

9. Demonstrate your commitment to Sustainability

If you own a business, you know that sustainability and corporate responsibility are important components of an organization’s culture and values. They also produce bottom-line results. Consumers are increasingly aware of a company’s commitment to the environment and typically reward businesses that choose to operate responsibly. ‘Green’ credentials are a powerful driver of consumer’s purchasing decisions.

10. Solar Energy is the Future

Going solar now puts you ahead of the curve. Deciding whether or not to go solar is a big decision that requires careful consideration but the benefits you’ll reap are undeniable. Go solar today and be a part of the solution.

CONTACT US today to learn more about our solar energy services.

Energy & Heating Tips for the Fall

Fall at Building Energy

Fall Has Arrived! 

The arrival of Fall means cooler weather is just around the corner and it’s time to switch gears from cooling to heating. To maintain optimal comfort, drive energy efficiency through the heating months, and protect your HVAC investment, Mitsubishi recommends you clean your filters regularly.

 

 

 

 

Mitsubishi Mini Split Heat PumpFall Maintenance for your Mitsubishi Mini Split Heat Pump

The simple act of cleaning your filters will make a big difference to the quality of the indoor air you breathe by removing any accumulated dirt and allergens that build up over time. Regular cleaning will also help improve efficiency and prolong the life of your heat pump unit. Cleaning often, rather than waiting until the filters are filled with dust and pollen is always the best option.

 

How to Clean Air Filters 

(See Operating Manual for specific Recommended Cleaning Instructions)
Remove the front panel to access the air filters. (see Operating Manual) Mitsubishi recommends you clean the air filter (the smaller of the 2 filters) every 2 weeks.  Simply remove any dirt build up by using the brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner, or rinse with water then place in shade to dry. The air cleaning filter (this is the larger of the two filters) should be cleaned every 3-4 months and replaced once a year for best performance. Remove dirt using the brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner. When dirt cannot be removed by vacuum cleaning, soak the filter and it’s frame in lukewarm water before rinsing it. (Diluted mild detergents can be used) After washing with water, dry it well in shade.

 

Cleaning the Heat Exchanger

With the air filters removed, take a look at your heat exchanger. This will look like a bunch of thin plates lined up vertically. If it is really dirty, you may need to schedule a professional cleaning. You can use the brush attachment on your vacuum to clean the heat exchanger vertically… gently moving the brush up and down the heat exchanger.  (The heat exchanger may be damaged if it is cleaned horizontally.)

 

Note: If the heat pump has been cooling, it may be wet from condensation. This will make it difficult to vacuum. For best results, attempt to clean only after the unit has been off for at least 5 hours. Also, do not touch the heat exchanger with your bare hands. It is best to wear a pair of gloves to avoid injury.
 
For more information watch this video: Mitsubishi Homeowner Help: Filter Cleaning
IF YOU HAVE A BALANCED VENTILATION SYSTEM LIKE AN HRV OR ERV, FALL IS THE PERFECT TIME TO LOOK INTO CLEANING OR REPLACING THOSE FILTERS TOO! 

 

Solar Panel ArrayThinking of Going Solar?

 
Reduce your reliance on Fossil Fuels by adding a Solar array to your home. CLICK HERE to learn more. CONTACT US  today for a free site evaluation and quote.

 

 

 

Home With Solar Panels in the WinterIs Your Home Ready for the Upcoming Winter Heating Season? 

Start with an Energy Audit to learn how you can improve the comfort of your home with air sealing, insulation and ventilation. CONTACT US to learn more.

 

The Simple Science Behind Spray Foam Insulation

Spray foam insulation is developed from 2 types of composite material, polyurethane and isocyanate. When combined, the 2 materials chemically react to expand and harden. During the insulation process, the 2 materials are sprayed at the same time from the tip of a spray foam gun allowing them to expand and form a protective layer of spray foam insulation over a designated area. Spray foam is widely promoted as a green building material for its ability to improve energy efficiency. It insulates better than fiberglass or cellulose leading to major heating and cooling cost savings for a homeowner.

There are 2 types of spray foam insulation – open cell and closed cell. Open cell is less expensive in general but it has a lower R value per inch (3.6 compared to 7) so a thicker layer is often required. It is permeable to moisture and impermeable to air and has an effective sound dampening effect.  The closed cell provides a higher R value per inch and adds structural strength to wall, ceiling and roof assembly. It stops both air and moisture.While all spray foams contain petroleum-based chemicals, some manufacturers have ‘greened’ their formula by reducing the percentage of petroleum-based chemicals in their polyol resin component and replaced that with

While all spray foams contain petroleum-based chemicals, some manufacturers have ‘greened’ their formula by reducing the percentage of petroleum-based chemicals in their polyol resin component and replaced that with resin derived from soy oil or castor oil. These are known as soy-based foams.

 

Building Energy has been using a non-toxic soy based foam for almost a decade.  This is a safe, environmentally friendly foam with the highest R values and quality.  HEATLOK SOY®, a closed cell Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation, has a unique ecological benefit that recycles plastic waste into a Rigid Spray Polyurethane Foam. This helps to more efficiently utilize the world’s nonrenewable resources. HEATLOK SOY® can reduce excess waste and energy consumption in buildings by up to 50%. This is an excellent closed-cell spray foam insulation/air-barrier used in areas where relative humidity levels exceed 55%.

For more informative information on insulation be sure to head to the Building Energy’s Weatherization-Insulation blog. Building Energy provides a full range of energy services to help make your home or business more energy efficient. Start with a Home Energy Audit to determine if Air Sealing, Spray Foam and/or  Cellulose insulation is right for you and take advantage of the many incentives Efficiency Vermont has to offer. Head to Building Energy weatherization and insulation services page for more information!

 

Solar Panel Costs Are Rising. Lock Into Today’s Pricing!

For the first half of 2017, solar panel prices were steadily declining but now prices have been increasing (by as much as 20 percent, in some cases) due to fears of a looming tariff.

Lock into today’s lower prices with Building Energy! Panel prices are set to rise in the next month but we agree to hold our current panel pricing until the end of October for all customers with a Proposal dated prior to September 15, 2017.

Whether you have a proposal in hand or are interested in getting a free quote, contact Nik today to find out how you can lock into our current lower pricing. Don’t miss out on this opportunity. Call today!

Solar Panel Installation

The Rigg’s (Residential Insulation Case Study)

Homeowner’s complaints

“[The] Downstairs bedroom is cold, family room above garage is hot in summer.”

Homeowner’s goals

“Reduce ice buildup in the back of the house above kitchen. Lower energy costs. Reduce summer heat cost in family room.”

Primary Issues:

  1. Ice Jambs on the north side of the house are being caused by insulation and air barrier gaps on the sloped ceiling, kitchen soffit and dormer walls.
  2.  The house has a high air infiltration rate due to the inadequate air barriers in family room attic.
  3. The main attic fiberglass insulation should be replaced so that the entire flat attic plane can be air sealed. This would be relatively easy to do when the home is being reroofed.

Reinsulation & Air Sealing

Insulation:

  • In the attic on both sides of the storage area and the floor above the master bath: air seal with spray foam and/or dense pack cellulose contained by stapled netting.
  • Above the kitchen soffit, from the side of the dormer wall and slant rafter cavity: spray the side wall with 3” of foam and cap the corner. Inject cellulose into the rafter bay between the dormer wall and family room to 16” deep loose fill.
  • Family room flat attic: remove poorly placed fiber glass insulation and air seal. Inject 16” of loose fill cellulose over the attic flat.
  • Kitchen Soffit: spray foam 7” into rafter bays from eave to the dormer wall and all along the top of the wall above the soffit. Also add cellulose insulation in Kitchen soffit.
  • Clear story: spray foam 5.5” of spray foam on all four sides.

Results

Blower Door Test Before Work

Blower Door Test After work

 % Reduction in Air Leakage

Blower Door Change

Heat Energy Savings

3391 2698 20.4% 693 11.02%

 

Reduction Statistics

Blower Door Decrease/ $

Heat Energy Savings/ $

 Incentives received from Efficiency Vermont

Incentive $/ Contract $

0.21/ $1 0.32896% / $1  $ 1,040.75 0.31/  $1

Related Images

Kitchen

Kitchen

Kitchen Infrared Image

Kitchen Infrared Image

Attic Insulation Infrared Image

Attic Insulation Infrared Image

Williston Passive Solar Home Case Study


A Vision for New Construction

The Williston Passive Solar Home was constructed by Building Energy for a family desiring a highly efficient home. It received a 5+ Star Rating from ENERGY STAR and was the most efficient home in Vermont that has been rated. It is a 3000 square foot home, complete with highly efficient insulation, energy recovery ventilation, ENERGY STAR appliances propane fired boiler, indirect hot water heater, and energy efficient lighting. The passive solar design incorporate overhang to shield the home from the sun in the summer. It’s energy rating is 90.8.


Related Images

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Darrel Duffy – Wood boiler installation Monkton Case Study


Client
Darrel Duffy

Structure
Ranch style house

Wood Boiler
“We installed our Tarm Solo Plus 40 back at the beginning of January and since then we have loved staying warm.”

Before
“Prior to January 5th we heated our 2800 sq ft ranch with propane and had to keep the heat at 62 degrees during the day and 59 at night just to keep it affordable.”

After
“We now keep our heat at 66 to 68 during the day not because of cost but that is all the heat we can take, and 62 to 64 at night.  We even enjoy leaving a window open here and there just to get the fresh air and haven’t noticed that much of a change in wood usage.”

Update
“It is the end of April and I have made it from January 5th to now and only used 5% of our propane tank.”

Related Images

Efficiency Electric Heating with Air Source Heat Pumps Case Study


Heat Pump Installation Saves $1,200 Annually in Waltham

Watch the video below to learn how Building Energy helped the Melnick’s in Waltham, Vermont save BIG ($1,200 annually to be exact). The Melnick’s realized that a heat pump was a good option for them after they had and energy audit done by one of Building Energy’s BPI certified building analysts. Once our expert team reduced their home’s heating load with insulation and weatherization they had a heat pump installed during the summer of 2013 and have been enjoying the comfort and savings of this great technology since!

Become energy independent when you combine a Cold Climate Heat Pump with Solar

Watch this WCAX news report from January 2016 to learn how Building Energy helped a South Burlington, Vermont family become more energy independent with the installation of a Cold Climate Heat Pump.

http://www.wcax.com/story/31025242/vermonters-become-energy-independent-with-new-home-heating-system

Bill Moller – Residential Solar PV Case Study


Residential Client
Bill Moller

Location
Hinesburg, VT

Structure
A two-story house

Installation Date
July 2011

System Details
System Type: Utility Interactive Photovoltaic System without Batteries

Rated Capacity: 8.64 kilowatts

Modules: (36) SolarWorld SW240, 25-year power warranty

Inverter: SMA SB8000US, 8000-Watt Grid-tie inverter, 96% efficient

Racking: Unirac SolarMount with Ecofasten Flashing Plates


Predicted Savings
Expect to generate nearly 10,000 kilowatt-hours annually ($2,000 under SolarGMP)

Related Images

Solar PV Array, 8.64kW

Solar PV Array, 8.64kW

Solar Disconnect & Revenue Meter

Solar Disconnect & Revenue Meter

Solar Inverter, SMA SB8000US

Solar Inverter, SMA SB8000US

Roof Attachment witih Shingle Flashing Plate

Roof Attachment witih Shingle Flashing Plate

Leunigs Bistro – Commercial Solar PV Case Study


Client
Leunigs Bistro

Location
Burlington

Structure
A four-Story historic building in Downtown District

Installation Date
December 2010

System Details
System Type: Utility Interactive PV System without Batteries

Rated Capacity: 26.4 kilowatts

Modules: (120) Sanyo HIT220, 20-year warranty

Inverters: (4) SMA SB7000US, 7000-Watt Each, Grid-tie Inverters

Racking on North Roof: Low-Profile Rack with Tilt Legs

Racking on South Roof: Flush-mount Rack with 12″ Stand-off Posts


Predicted Savings
Designed to produce 28,000 kilowatt-hours annually.

Challenges

Our firm was contracted to design and install a solar photovoltaic system on the roof of this popular downtown restaurant.

The roof system needed significant structural improvements just to meet current building codes.


Our Approach

We assembled a team of engineers, designers and installers and we were able to put forth a plan that met or exceeded all applicable building codes and operated within the owner’s budget. The installation was completed on time.


Related Images

Installing Modules

Installing Modules

Installing new steel rafters to meet existing building codes

Installing new steel rafters to meet existing building codes

Navigating the decorations on Church Street in a 40-foot lift

Navigating the decorations on Church Street in a 40-foot lift

Solar Modules on North Roof

Solar Modules on North Roof

Solar Modules on South Roof

Solar Modules on South Roof

Got Questions

Contact us for more information on any product or service.1-802-859-3384 Or contact us through the website

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