Thanks again David, for finding folks working around the same old paradigms in retrofits and gov't/utility retrofit programs.

As a building energy modeler who used them for years, I appreciate the rare jab at "crazy DOE energy models." If one looks under the hood, these have incredible detail in things like intra-surface radiative transfer, but infiltration and HVAC distribution losses are input as gross factors.

And also a jab at these "crazy, crazy rebate programs" which provide huge incentives, but only until the "sugar crash" happens.

Expand full comment

Denver's recent program certainly sets us up for a "sugar crash" but it's also about boosting the HVAC industry which so far has not done enough to train for heat their people to figure out heat pump installations and get good at it. A lot of inertia needs to be overcome here but if heat pumps become routine and best practice maybe the 'sugar crash' won't hit as hard.

That said, one installer tells me that in his experience no incentives means people won't install anything even if it provably saves them money over time (and his clientele is mainly rich people). His conclusion: unless it is mandated or subsidized people won't order it, and builders...

Expand full comment

And the HVAC contractor world is not being helped by its "leaders."


And Colorado is not being helped by AARP


Really, I find these folks more annoying than actual O&G drillers. Except when the latter are spreading disinformation and resisting controls on rampant venting. The drillers are meeting a demand, which could be reduced. The rest of the "media" world is not required to spread FF BS credulously and turn it into widespread misinformation.

In any case, hopefully Denver's and other's programs result in lasting change.

Expand full comment

David or commenters, I’m looking for the evidence of the natural gas problems in homes as far as emissions. The guest said something like “equivalent to having a smoker in the home.” Most people I know think these appliances are fine so I’d like to have the literature stating otherwise, thanks!

Expand full comment
May 10, 2022·edited May 10, 2022

Coordinated performance based home renovations sound like a great solution and the new digital tools along with better heat pumps do help. What worries me is the operational stupidity of home owners who can easily sabotage energy efficiency with their terrible habits. Where I live in the Front Range of Colorado many homes only close their glass storm door, presumably to signal hospitality. Really??

Add a few of those habits (or careless teens) and Sealed etc will never get paid even if their remote contractors do everything right.

Expand full comment

I went on a tour of a Chicago Public School with their CSO a few years ago to see how their ecology club and science teachers were utilizing their outdoor green space. It was brutally cold (something like 10 degrees F at best), so when we were walking around the building it was a colossal facepalming moment for all of us to see that the exterior window thresholds of an entire wing of the building were wide open, as the building was being overheated and that was the only solution the teachers could implement themselves. This was also a frequent issue at my college dorm at the Univ of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

At my daughter's elementary school they put in window AC units while ignoring a poorly insulated roof and the fact the entire southern side of the building had no tree canopy providing shade.

So yes, I could not agree more - envelope and HVAC improvements can be easily undermined by user error if larger systems thinking is not part of the implementation process. And nature-based solutions should be prioritized whenever possible, we are a mighty clever species, but there is often no need to reinvent the wheel.

Expand full comment

I know this has been addressed, but how do people meter efficiency? What if I buy a new refigerator and my energy efficiency changes because of that?

Expand full comment

One way for electrical appliances is to plug it into a "kill-a-watt" meter, a $20 device that gives you an accurate measure of the electricity consumed. Or look up the fridge's energy label which provides these figures. Cities like Boulder CO require landlords to go through an efficiency audit. In my case we had to replace the fridge in order to have enough points.

Expand full comment

Once again the Volts podcast comes through with practical stuff to boost my optimism.

Expand full comment