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HVAC Archives - Michaels Energy

ice cream

Amazing Refrigerant Facts

By Energy Rant No Comments
Does anyone make ice cream at home these days? That was one of our favorite treats as kids – back when we had three network channels and no recording devices. I’m not going to look into modern ice cream makers for home, but I’ll bet they have cheaters that don’t require ice and salt. Why is salt used with ice to freeze ice cream? Read on to find out. Anyway, I found an early-patented “refrigeration system” (1793) that used ice and salt with charcoal and blankets for insulation. The simple mechanical refrigeration cycle was invented in the early 1900s. Mechanical...
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The Simple Recipe to Fail-Safe, Healthy, and Efficient Building Programs

By Energy Rant No Comments
Based on my victims' feedback, I am an above-average cook, but my internal modesty says, barely. To achieve such mediocrity, all you must do is follow the instructions and pay little attention. The next step to greatness, I’ve heard, is to weigh rather than measure things (cups, teaspoons, etc.). No. Thanks. Beyond that probably requires the Malcolm-Gladwell 10,000 hours to achieve excellence as a professional. Designing and constructing buildings is a lot like cooking, and I think most “efficient” buildings are in my categorical class of cooks: mediocre-plus. Unlike great amateur cooks, designers and builders need to be paid for...
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energy industry predictions

Soothsayer Says: Eight Predictions for the Energy Industry

By Energy Rant No Comments
If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing now. That quasi-cliché is why I have never had a New Year’s resolution, and I’m not going to start in 2021, but I can review the past and forecast (guess) the future. Soothsaying is part of my job, and I’m at least as accurate as next week’s weather forecast. At the start of 2020, we had just reorganized, defined who we are, what we do, and why we do it. Sounds simple, right? What is your personal purpose? What do you value? What makes you tick? Keeping it concise is very hard. Our...
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natural gas

Natural Gas Savings, Traps, and H Vacs

By Energy Rant One Comment
I flipped open AESP’s[1] annual magazine to pick up a topic for this week. I chose the last article on natural gas programs. I’ve always found it interesting that folks perceive natural gas to be an enigma for finding savings. If natural gas is being used, the potential for savings is not more difficult to find than electricity savings. Steam “Traps” Let’s start with steam traps. Programs that maintain and replace steam traps are akin to electric programs that fix compressed air leaks. [vc_single_image image="14603" img_size="full" onclick="link_image"] Traps capture things, right? Mousetrap. Ant trap. Beartrap. Ackbar trap. However, a steam...
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Commercial HVAC – Retrofit v New Construction: Apples v Poutine

By Energy Rant No Comments
This post is the main course following last week’s appetizer that covered some complexities of deep energy retrofits for homes. The thrust of that post was that even retrofitting homes requires considerations of many things that have nothing to do with energy – just to achieve desired energy results. This week, we are advancing the subject to commercial buildings. [vc_single_image image="13507" img_size="full"][vc_single_image image="13504" img_size="full" onclick="link_image"] Case Study: 100 Year Old School Let’s start again with a 100-year-old middle school shown nearby. This building has already had a deep energy retrofit, and I’ll explain how to tell later (below). I pulled...
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HVAC’s Cure for Cancer

By Energy Efficiency, Energy Rant 2 Comments
In January, I wrote about code compliance and that while energy codes keep ratcheting down energy intensity in theory, reality is misery.  That post was a thinly veiled advertisement for my AESP National Conference session in the Lion’s Lair, and that presentation can be seen here.  My Lion’s Lair proposal was a thinly veiled pitch to fix what would be the equivalent of curing cancer for commercial HVAC systems. The cancer is the widely used variable, air volume system.  Another boondoggled application of one such system triggered this post.  The boondoggle was part of an evaluation we are doing on...
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Lessons from NYC Benchmarking

By Energy Efficiency, Energy Rant, Utility Stuff One Comment
New York City recently completed its report for the benchmarking of all its “large” facilities, generally with square footage of 100,000 or greater.  The results of the study are not surprising.  You may be thinking, “Who cares about NYC?”  Answer: this post includes universal challenges with benchmarking whether it’s Batswana or the Yukon. The benchmarking was completed using ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, which as far as I can tell ranks buildings by source Btu[1] per square foot, otherwise known as energy intensity.  For example, it uses a factor of 3 for electricity, which is one over the efficiency of delivering electrical...
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Paint by Numbers EE

By Energy Efficiency, Energy Rant No Comments
True or false: It’s easier to teach Pablo Picasso how to paint a house than it is to make a house painter into a Picasso-grade painter/artist.  For the answer, keep reading. I was sitting in a session at last week’s AESP conference sipping my weak overpriced Starbucks when I almost sprayed a mouthful on the bystanders sitting in front of me.  Not one, but two guys opined that it is easier to teach, for example, a refrigeration expert retrocommissioning than it is to teach a retrocommissioning/energy expert efficient refrigeration.  Allow me to demonstrate with an example, a true story. A...
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Stalin Lives

By Energy Efficiency, Energy Rant One Comment
Various areas of the country have various weird oddities.  When we moved to the La Crosse area last decade, or the one before that, we found that apartments come with laundry hookups but no washer and dryer.  What the?  How about a friggin wash machine and dryer to fill that hole and plug into those pipes and wall socket?  So we went to a now defunct appliance joint and picked up an Amana washer and dryer – electric of course because a rental joint isn’t going to provide natural gas. I think I’ve finally talked my wife into getting the...
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Choose Solutions, Not Facts

By Energy Efficiency, Government, Stimulus, Sustainability, Tax Stuff No Comments
State and federal budgets are headed for the cliff to varying degrees with few exceptions.  Here in Wisconsin, we’ve had the Battle Royale fight to the death cage match with the repubs on one side and the unions on the other while the dems were hiding out in a witness protection plan. Meanwhile at the federal level, we are on a dangerous trajectory unseen in my lifetime.  People have whined about the deficit and debt since my adolescence – the Miracle on Ice days against the Soviet Union.  I kept saying, “It’s not a problem.  It’s not a problem.”  Why? ...
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