For Real Home Performance… Monitor The Bills

(Reprinted from Nov, 2009)

There’s been a lot of talk about “Really Green” vs “Greenwashing.”   The biggest hit has been taken by LEED with Henry Gifford’s blistering presentation in April this year.  (Skip to the last paragraph for Henry’s true feelings.)  Henry showed how LEED and other points-based rating programs can entice designers to specify gizmos that are currently popular at the expense of tried and true design concepts that dont garner as many points.

First Time Homebuyers, Juan, Corrin & their new son are happy about their new home and especially the low utility bills and the comfort of the home.

First Time Homebuyers, Juan, Corrin & their new son. Although they didn't receive a plaque or certificate or a computer prediction, they are happy about their new home and especially the low utility bills and the comfort of the home.

This results in many LEED buildings costing more to operate than the equivalent non-LEED buildings.    Henry suggests that simply monitoring the energy usage (and continuing to monitor it and publish it) is the best way to move us toward energy independence.

What a great idea, Henry!   That’s what we do here at GreenEarthEquities.   Today I stopped by to pick up the utility bills of one of our buyers participating in our “We Pay Half” program. That’s where we pay half of the Utility Bills for a period of time, usually 2 years.    It allows us to put our money where out mouth is and stand behind our claims of energy efficiency… and at the same time keeps the customer motivated toward efficiency because they are paying the other half.

Here are the first 6 months of bills,  May thru October.   The home is a 40 year old 1200 square foot tract home in Fresno where the summers are really hot.    Perhaps even more important is that the homeowner was pregnant with her first child and kept the thermostat at 70 degrees all thru the summer.

Month          Gas               Electric              Total

May               11.06             43.70                 55.62

June              5.20               40.36                 45.97

July               6.92               109.32               116.88

August          5.09              112.77                118.31

September    6.17               109.97               116.72

October        6.51                 71.15                  78.24

The home got  no certification or plaque.   No HERS rating required.   No third party testing or computer modeling.  The project was designed toward the main thing that counts = the bills.    And the bills are about half of what the rest of the neighborhood experiences.   Is the homeowner happy?  Ecstatic is more like it.   Sad that they didn’t get a rating or a plaque?   Dont think so.     So what’s to not like about that?    The deliverable was delivered.

Henry Gifford’s critique was directed at LEED, primarily for commercial buildings.   But Residential Programs are not far behind.  How much non performance from Home Performance programs will the tax payer allow?     Is there political will to demand transparency and performance?

Would the real efficiency of Energy Efficiency Programs improve  if the following were implemented:

1.  “We Pay Half”  where contractors & developers paid half the utility bill for two years.   OR

2.  Contractors & Developers wait a year for 50% of their incentive payment and receive it only if the promised deliverable was really delivered.

3.  Allow rate payers to see the “Neighborhood Average” along with their bill every month.

Pretty simple stuff really.    Please comment in the comments section below.      Do you think it’s too simple?   Would it work to deliver more energy independence?    Or is there too much investment in the testing and modeling and certifying industry that is providing so many of the good new Green Jobs that dont always deliver what the programs promise?

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  1. Plano Electrician

    Wow! Thank you! I always wanted to write on my site something like that. Can I use part of your post in my blog too?

  2. daverobinson

    Hey Plano…
    Sure, Use it all or part. The more the merrier.

  3. Bryan Lee

    Good concept for my home performance business plan. I’m going to steal the idea! 🙂

  4. Tom Templeton

    When have you ever seen the Fed or any institution putting their money where there mouth is? More like the other end. I know that’s not professional,I said it not you. When in business I spoke out against Fed monies that were wasted in the TVA Energy Right Program. We did convince the powers to be not make it mandatory(notice I said mandatory)to insulate floors, poor pay back. All a contractor needs to do is show the client the numbers (ROI) if it’s there its a doer. Looks like the Recovery Act of 2009 is waisting good money again.Great article.


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