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programmable thermostats

Cooling System Temperature Control- No Savings

By Energy Efficiency, Energy Rant 5 Comments
Let’s skip the energy supply side this week and talk about thermostats used for cooling. Let’s broaden the discussion to include both programmable thermostats and “smart” or “learning” thermostats. The Nest falls into the latter group. Speaking for the Nest, which I have controlling my heating and cooling, it will learn user patterns by when, and to what level, the user changes temperature setpoints. It also secretly learns the users’ occupancy patterns by keeping an infrared eye on them. For instance, if the thermostat is in a heavy traffic area, it will learn to expect a lot of traffic, and…
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By Energy Efficiency, Energy Rant, Government 4 Comments
Widgetitis: Obsessive compulsion to build canals with teaspoons – or meet program goals with showerheads. A short story about economist Milton Friedman from The Wall Street Journal sort of sets the stage for effectively meeting program/portfolio goals in big chunks: “Milton recalled traveling to an Asian country in the 1960s and visiting a worksite where a new canal was being built. He was shocked to see that, instead of modern tractors and earth movers, the workers had shovels. He asked why there were so few machines. The government bureaucrat explained: “You don’t understand. This is a jobs program.” To which…
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Saints Are Marching In

By Energy Efficiency, Energy Rant, Utility Stuff No Comments
One of the most rewarding aspects of our business is ensuring people get it right and customers get the legitimate energy and monetary savings they should be receiving.  My answer to “why should we pick you?” is: we are passionate about what we do; we get things right; and we want to make a difference – improve things.  The problem occurs when others don’t give a rip about these things. Michaels’ primary thrust in the evaluation arena is impact evaluation, which is – what difference does the program make?  The questions are (1) what is happening versus what would have…
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Oh Behave

By Energy Efficiency 8 Comments
I swear we were introduced to the food pyramid when I was in grade school but a little web searching gives me just a couple – the one from 1992 and the new and improved one in 2005.The 1992 edition is shown in Figure 1.  If you can’t read it, good. The 2005 vertical colorful edition with the stickman and skewers for hands and feet is shown in Figure 2. For 2011 (Figure 3), the USDA has switched to this brilliant “plate” that looks like a pie chart developed by a group of kindergarteners employed by Microsoft, except I really…
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By Energy Efficiency, Energy Rant No Comments
An overarching theme of the Energy Rant is that much energy policy has a feel-good foundation of fluff.  Last week I ranted about the feel-good dream of having plentiful, inexpensive renewable energy.  This will take a miracle because conventional sources are still huge and growing.  We have enough coal, natural gas, tar sands, oil shale, and offshore energy to last beyond our kids’ great grandchildren.  Of course most readers of this are champions of energy efficiency, but energy efficiency also has too much feel-good fluff. Consider compact fluorescent lights, which despite my rant about it’s mandate a few weeks ago…
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