Saturday, March 22, 2014


I'm happy to offset seriousness of a couple of posts, with this photo interpretation.
(Found through a relative, sharing a Sierra Club repost, on Facebook.) I now think to look directly at Sierra Club and Earth Day Network Facebook pages. Probe further, and find origin here: 

Street art!

Had you already seen this?

Politicians discussing global warming. Sculpture by Issac Cordal.

Add words here and as a Label, Serious Funhoping to develop a collection of such.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Fixing Up Houses That Will Be Sold

I attended Energy Trust Of Oregon's  3/18/2014  Portland-Area Residential Trade Ally Roundtable  meeting of the staff of ETO, with contractors, realtors and many others,  who are affected by their actions. These meetings happen about quarterly, and are open to anyone. Affected contractors attend to be told of autocratic and erratic policy changes and of valuable deals gifted to those who cooperate in the glory of Energy Trust. I try to attend every Roundtable meeting, investing a half day in monitoring and trying to affect Energy Trust actions. Those in attendance are mostly the takers of unfair and undeserved largess, which can be thousands of dollars each year in "cooperative marketing" money doled out recklessly. I do not take this dirty money.

I suppose Energy Trust is authorized to advertise its programs, with some effort at brand recognition. Using money perhaps allowed for advertising as power to enforce programs of fraud (the lies that a blower door is the means and measure of weatherization) and unauthorized and hugely expensive business adventure (creating and pushing Energy Performance Score ), is wrong. In accomplishing weatherization, no advantage shall be given to those who cooperate with Energy Trust, against those who choose a more-honest path.

To me, the highlight of this meeting was this slide. I wish this were more legible, but can state the numbers that prompt this post.

This is all Energy Trust wishes to accomplish in 2014, in what I consider its best reason to exist, promoting home weatherization.

Please compare this to a summary in my post of January 22, 2014, "Progress In Residential Weatherization? ".  

I had thought the pitiful achievement was of houses weatherized. In fact, numbers are annual totals for all measures completed. The number of houses treated in any year, is about one fourth of the table number, currently about 2000 homes per year. The biggest measure count is in replacement windows. With windows, on average there is probably one more measure for a house in that year. The same houses of diligence might pepper the list over several years where budgeted from available cash.

Where conscience in residential weatherization is the main factor in accepting the tax of our Public Purpose Fund, the performance of Energy Trust is a disgrace. At least through rebated action, we are getting nowhere in our needful quest to avert climate disaster and personal disaster when, very soon, energy costs will double and more, leaving many of us, unprepared, to freeze. The most pitiful of us will be those taking up foreclosed homes, unimproved by the monstrous bankers and their enabling politicians. Any of us with unimproved homes under onerous mortgage will find it hard to find cash to do right in weatherization.

Let us save the likes of Energy Trust Of Oregon in their unsatisfied quest to do something useful with their many millions of dollars allocated through taxes . I want Oregon to set an example for the nation in this, as we proudly did in following British Columbia to be first in USA with a responsible Bottle Bill. We need to create a State Bank, to allow our money to have useful local consequence and to be pulled back from risk in still-legal and rampant derivatives speculation. I want an Oregon State Bank to invest securely in residential weatherization.

Consider the size of the needed allocation of State Bank funds in Oregon. If 500,000 homes were treated in measures with under ten years payback, finding on average $2,000 per home opportunity, the reserve is of $One Billion. We have $100 Billion highly at risk, as play money for Wall Street gamblers.

I think the way to begin this is to require that all sold homes have an honest basket of weatherization in them. It can be done. When each house is sold, more easily, the loan of full measures cost, is immediately repaid. The loan plan is not only for weatherization. All critical repairs must be done, including roofing, plumbing and wiring defects that impair home survival. What kind of person might oppose this plan?

At 4/2/2014 add insights of a visitor to my booth at Portland's Better Living Show, that weatherization is being sold mostly outside the control of Energy Trust. Home owners are told that work can be done at less cost, despite sacrifice of rebates. This is horrible, if true. Work not qualifying for rebates will always be the blow and go missing of real savings opportunities in  the attic floor, and worse. These dishonest contractors will always cheat on depth of their awful ruin of old attics, blocking access of an honest contractor who might have the will to repair the crime. I have only seen this situation once, a madness of cellulose. I offered to assist a suit against the contractor not named. The sorry home owner apparently chose to just go on living under his deeper trash heap, still with piles of roof debris, now buried, out of sight  

Monday, March 17, 2014

Math Of Under-R12 Attic Floor Insulation Rule, For Incentives

In Portland, Oregon, public support of weatherization is managed by Energy Trust Of Oregon, and measure technical details for existing homes weatherization are in a Specifications Manual updated each year. The current rules are: 

At page labeled 13, find this statement for attic floors: Existing insulation levels shall be R-12 or less to be eligible for incentives. 

That's it, a rule addressed in this post.

Energy Trust claims there is math behind this rule, but as with any rule, can't produce it for me. In the past, blame for this was placed upon the Regional Technical Forum of Bonneville Power Administration. Now, Energy Trust takes the blame. They have done no math proving added insulation from R11 pays, but not from R12. I can understand that nothing done by Energy Trust makes sense, where they spend $20 million per year and treat only 2000 homes. 

Here is R12 math similar to that which challenged BPA/ RTF, first posted in September 2010, never acknowledged. The arrogance of BPA and now Energy Trust, is not excusable. Energy Trust has no concept of math to justify its rules. It isn't difficult. The big variable is the applied cost of energy, where I choose $2 per therm, for natural gas heat. We may not use actual subsidized consumer cost, cheap by military adventure, with ruin forever of clean water, and with murderous blunt force against people who protest. Such wickedly cheap fuel will be gone in less than ten years. Weatherization measures must be based on a horizon of perhaps fifty years. Measures must be sturdy. Please wake up, Oregon Public Utilities Commission, if you are to blame in a hurtful payback consideration, with too-low cost of energy, for long time span.

Adjust the four-year old math of R19 to R38 addition, where insulation cost has risen 28%.

In this comparison by reasonable, consistent, simplified math, I do not see reason for change of policy from rebates for under R19, to under R12. The result is purely harmful, as excuse to do nothing in many attics.

What matters in considering when to add some attic insulation, is that all important work must be done first, that will be impaired or prohibited by the added insulation. I think I can demonstrate for any attic, that other measures at risk by added insulation, have greater returns and payback rate, than that of the added insulation. Someone fixing the attic floor for very good reasons, and then topping up insulation, should not be discouraged in reporting this to those monitoring weatherization progress. A problem here is that rebates are offered at all. The need is for our homes to be made as energy efficient as any owner wishes, with acknowledgement and with good consequence in matters of house sale, taxes and financing.

Please look at lessons in this post:

2013 Federal Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credit 
Incentives at all levels must not stress the addition of insulation. And, who has read this? Surely not Energy Trust Of Oregon. I pay attention, and do not recall sign anyone who has resorted to the refund-useful links, went further to examine links for the lesson expressed. What is wrong with us?

In the previous post , the relative importance of other measures and of adding insulation were mentioned once again, but were not demonstrated. Do that demonstration, now.

Six awful can lights in an attic floor were replaced with beautiful, much-brighter LEDs, saving $18 per year each, in three-year payback. To relate this and all measures other than adding insulation to same basis I invent "equivalent bare area coverage."

What is the equivalent in bare-area coverage to R38, that saves six times $18 per year? This is the savings opportunity with replacement LED lights. 
2.4*Area * (1/3 - 1/41) = 6*$18
Area = 145 sf, out of 1264 sf floor area.

Trampling and rebuilding all loose fill in this attic will permit insulation of 200 sf on before-unreachable attic walls. Insulation value goes from none, to R30. Bare area equivalent, about 200 sf.

The effect of sealing wall headers may also be estimated in equivalent bare area fully insulated. Say the area both sides of interior walls is the same as attic floor area, and stilling leakage/ floor pit bathing, is 10% of that which would occur if interior walls were directly open to the attic, 126 sf. In this, use further simplification, that interior wall area, two sides, is same as attic floor area. This is very unscientific, and none of the assumptions deserve sharpening for specific home details. Bare area equivalent as 10% of floor area gives an appropriate degree of importance.

The bare-area equivalent of insulating the attic floor from R10 to R38 is:
Area/3 = 1264(1/13 - 1/41)
Area = 199 sf.

Total bare area equivalents are 145 + 200 + 126 + 199 = 670 sf.

22% in fixing six lights. 30% in fixing attic walls. 19% in sealing wall headers. 29% in adding insulation. More than two thirds of weatherization savings come from other than adding insulation, here and in most homes.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Daring To Collapse and Rebuild Crummy Loose-Fill Fiberglass Insulation

Where loose-fill insulation floods an attic floor, a worker is unable to fix lee voids under/ behind crossing lumber, wires and ducts. Most are unable or unwilling to be generous in any compensating general coverage. We must consider the consequences.

I believe loose-fill fiberglass insulation intended R19, is commonly R10 on average. Do the math.
R2.2 per inch fiberglass. Target depth 9”.
R19 peak over 20%. R15 average except at voids. R2 over voids that cover some unknown fraction, F.

1/(R avg + 3) = F/5 + .2/22 + (.8-F)/18

I believe loose-fill fiberglass insulation intended R38, is commonly R15 on average. Do the math.
R2.2 per inch fiberglass. Target depth 18”.
R38 peak over 20%. R30 average except at voids. R2 over voids that cover some unknown fraction, F.

1/(R avg + 3) = F/5 + .2/41 + (.8-F)/33

The graphics of this post are drawn from a Picasa web album, 
Insulation Voids and Much More, Repaired .

Here is one photo of the found "R19" insulation that inspires this post.

Here is a review of some of my actions that challenge policy in Portland, Oregon, whereby this attic is judged just fine. Leave it as is. In truth, few attics contain greater opportunities for saving with weatherization measures. Even including the cost of a wonderful attic ladder and surrounding decks, all cost of weatherizing this 1988 attic to higher standards of 2014, will be repaid in about ten years. 

Details of the storage provision are in a Picasa web album
Truss Attic, February, 2014 .

All details, including construction of R30 insulation on attic walls, are in a pdf album at Google Docs: Truss Attic February 2014 . Please know always to view pdf albums as downloads.

There is real value in 280 sf of added storage space, brightly lit, safely accessible. The inviting access is important, too, in doing the profitable weatherization.

I do all cutting in the attic, catching debris in a sheet which I shake frequently into a 55 gallon drum liner. 

Here observe all stages of insulating attic walls to R30, with crossed R15 unfaced batts. The outer covering is 3/8" OSB.

Enabled LED lighting is a big boost to happiness and quality of life. 

A "weatherization" contractor only interested in more blow and go void-ruined insulation, throws barriers that may be insurmountable, against best savings possibilities and quality of life improvement.

A weatherization sponsor who teaches and rewards dumb work even that including fraud, devalues good work. Here I criticize the weatherization funds-squanderor I know, Energy Trust Of Oregon . Energy Trust, at article 2.1 in its Specifications , is oblivious of voids concerns. Energy Trust knows better, but further and more disastrously, does not require any "attic floor sealing" before adding more insulation. They go further, declaring that sealing costs are not repaid with energy savings. Not worth the trouble! How stupid! How evil! It doesn't pay, they say, yet they still reward only the contractors who lie about value of blower door testing, Clean Energy Works Oregon . Insulation voids and attic floor pits are never found with a blower door. Lee voids are created, always, by the blow and go practitioners of Clean Energy Works Oregon.

At 12/31/2014, I am disappointed to find this post buried in a Google search, at Page 27, with search terms "voids under attic insulation ." That seems unfair. I think this and related posts at this blog , are more meaningful than any found more-easily in the Google search. No other person has offered the involved math. With this edit, the post is still buried at Page 27. Why?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

What To Do With Porcelain Lampholders

I think you should replace a lampholder with a complete new LED luminaire. A Lithonia Versi lite  is a sure bet for any handy person, taking no space within the junction box that supported the lampholder.

In many cases, the best LED light that might replace a lampholder is   4" Glimpse   , 450 lumens at 9.5 watts, 3000°K. So pretty! 450 plate LED lumens is equal to the brightness of a 100 watt incandescent bulb, just right for many of us, upon an eight-foot ceiling. You may readily buy a 4" Glimpse  online  , smartly finding a light that has never been sold in stores.

If your need is in a garage ceiling, choose brightest LED disk lights you can find. You will likely have to do some rewiring, at minimum fitting up a RACO 175 junction box .At Winter 2017, the least-cost choice and with typical demand of volume for a converter block, is a 1100 lumens LED disk light from Cost Less Lighting , $18 each.

The Easy Answer
If you have lampholders, and are able only to change bulbs, choose this:

7 in LED Easy Light, Commercial Electric/ Home Depot 
830 lumens 11.5 watts, 72 lumens per watt, 4000°K 

I can now see the too-blue 4000°K color temperature in the phosphor over diodes. When will someone be bold enough to experiment with a mix of diode colors? Or, just stick with 3000°K.

Critique the savings information on the package:

Lasts up to 35,000 hours.

11.5 watts equal to 60 watt light output save up to 187 dollars a year over the life of the fixture.

Package claims do not take enough credit. LEDs last indefinitely, with reported life going up and up while tests continue. 100,000 hours? Sure, but for driver failure or mishandling. Perhaps you might ruin the lense here, in a large drop. Butalmost any drop kills a light bulb.

The savings are way off. This is about equal to two 100 watt incandescent bare bulbs. It is NOT anything like a 60 watt incandescent. Please find brightness comparisons at Google Docs:
Easy Light Brightness B7

If you would want to dim the Easy Light, beware there is complained-of buzzing of the luminaire in a dimmer circuit. I tested this in a circuit with excellent Cooper DAL06P dimmer and found a bothersome buzz equal to that in many LED lights, and found some flicker. If you want less light and dimmability, choose the less-bright Lithonia Versi Lite, 660 lumens vs. 830 lumens. Choose the Versi Lite with 3000°K color temperature . The Versi Lite is prettier, more rugged, absolutely silent on a dimmer, and will be less fouled by bugs. The puff lens of the Easy Light is little barrier to bugs. To be assured your light will never be fouled by bugs, choose a Glimpse light installed air-tight, or a Sylvania 70732 which install as plates on the ceiling, but demand available space in a light junction box unlike Easy Light or Versi Lite.

Review Amax Lighting LED-R003 Mushroom Flush Mount Ceiling Fixture, 19" 4000°K

I need a light for a customer who had relied on one multi-bulb candelabra to illuminate a modern kitchen. A single Sylvania 70732 is not bright enough, at 900 lumens, 13 watts, 3000°K.

It seemed a sure thing, that I would find adequate light with an Amax Lighting LED Cloud Fixture in the largest version, 19" diameter,  LED-R003 CLOUD-MUSHROOM 35 WATT COOL WHITE 19",  2900 lumens, 35 watts, labeled 4000°K.

The Amax image is from LampsPlus, which proudly has this as an early LED offering. I found it more conveniently, and at less cost, at Lowe's online listing. 

The LED array is not impressive. Very central, not dispersed to fill the lens.

On a good Cooper DAL06P dimmer, there is constant very-annoying flicker. This should not be sold as dimmable. 

By several means of side-by-side comparison, I find the brightness is over-rated, being actually quite a bit less than 2000 lumens. Please find my studies at Google Docs.
Looking For A Big LED Surface-Mount Light
To view photos at Google Docs, please download.

Where this light is misrepresented in both brightness and dimmability, it must be pulled from sale by the distributor, Amax Lighting, of Santa Fe Springs, CA. It is offered proudly as one of the few LED luminaires sold by LampsPlus, and by several other online sellers, with shipping from Amax. All sales, though there are not many yet, give a bad taste of LED lighting. I have found other LED surface mount lights sold carelessly, not dimmable. I don't see that surface-mount should be cheaply accepted. I see a best near-term future in surface-mount LED lights, of lights like Lithonia 7" LED Versi Lite , with AC LEDs. There is no AC to DC converter block in the way of very simple mounting. The Versi Lite does very well, what it claims.

For my customer here, I installed a bulky Utilitech Pro 21.65" Flushmount Ceiling Fixture . I had seen this in a Lowe's store. looking rather bright, as bright as claimed. It will do. I question its claims only in color temperature. I think mine (now the customer's) is about 3700°K, and like that better than label 4100°K. On a later visit to Lowe's, I found a Utilitech Pro 21.65" on display, with lens quite bug-littered. These big surface mount lights are not well sealed against bugs, and that will be a growing complaint.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Is Fifty Lumens Per Watt Enough?

For several months, I have been aware that there is analogy between numbers of lighting efficacy, expressed in lumens per watt, and automobile fuel economy, expressed in miles per gallon, MPG. Good state of the art in 2014 is a number of about fifty, for each. It seems we choose units such that common ratios come out at a "good" number of fifty. USA insulation measurement in R-value is another example involving ratios and inverse relationships, where more is good, to a practical limit. R50 is really good, and R100 is wasteful.

Current mediocre numbers are: 
(These yet have virtue in that they can be improved with assured good investment.)

19 MPG
R19 insulation
17 lumens per watt for a good incandescent light , and divide that by two or so, for inefficiency in shining wastefully like a point-source candle. 
About 25 useful lumens per watt from the  50 lumens per watt of a common CFL point-source bulb. Again divide by about two for light upon a task vs. a directional light.

I ask this question at the Picasa Web Album supporting a recent blog post, Still Loving Glimpse Lights:

If I can still love Glimpse lights at crummy-old 50 lumens per watt, may I despise Cooper Wavestream SLD4 and SLD6 lights, of above 100 lumens per watt LED technology, but emitting only 52 lumens per watt?

Please study the above table with kind intent. We all know things must be set to a common basis for comparison. Brightness Numbers do this for task illumination. Imagine a standard house has fixtures distributed in ceilings where each holds a 100 watt incandescent bulb, and this is accepted adequate illumination. Each such light is B4. If a Sylvania 70732 that I call B8 is substituted for one bulb, it may be dimmed by half for same illumination; or if not dimmed, improved productivity and happiness need credit in the comparison, too.

Bottom-row numbers are with some improvement of Cooper SLD lights, to achieve about 100 lumens per watt. It might be the adding of a simple top-side reflector. Resulting added savings of electricity would be about fifty cents per year.

Have I been unkind to Cooper Lighting, in expressed dismay over their implementation of "Wavestream" edge-lighting as a planar luminaire? An SLD4 is a pretty light, if overly bright and large over a small hallway or a a shower. The unkind review needing improvement is here: 

Should all who drive LED development beyond 50 lumens per watt, desist, working instead on simplicity and durability?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Review Lithonia 7" LED Versi Lite FMML 7 830 M6. AC-Powered LED, 3000°K

Lithonia LED Versi Lites are found at best price, at Home Depot among surface mount lights, not among downlights. 

They are currently stocked in-store, only in 4000°K color temperature. Those 4000°K lights were reviewed in a prior post

I now add experience in installing two at 3000°K, which I ordered at, and received promptly with free shipping. I am well pleased with these lights, and have offered customer comments at

This post is an abbreviation of a Picasa Web Album .

With AC LEDs, there is no converter block. The LED circuit board is immediately at the under-side of the mounting surface. There will be space between the ceiling and the luminaire for wires, but not twist connectors, as the rim contacts the ceiling. This is good surface-mount design.

I criticize the depth of the cast-aluminum rim. Only 1/4" of the lens is revealed, and needed disassembly torque must come by palm. The rim also recesses the light diodes, blocking some light.

Mounting hole pitch is 3 1/2", which is good for most ceiling junction boxes. I will have the rare bad luck of working here, with little Challenger bakelite boxes with holes only at 2 3/4" pitch.

Replace the found boxes then, with RACO 175.

Scrap lumber gives simplest mounting of the RACO 175. For flush fit in 5/8" ceiling drywall, use 2x4 blocks 1 5/8" tall. Here I used 1 3/4" blocks, and boxes are acceptably recessed 1/8".

We are looking down here past composite beam reinforcement and thickening of the garage ceiling to 9 1/2".  2x4 truss bottom elements may not bear loads, and beams are effectively 2x10. 2x10 depth is required too, to contain the height of the excellent Calvert ladder frame.

I securely twisted box and romex ground wires, so the luminaire ground could loop over  and give a first good restraint of the hanging luminaire. Then connect power leads.

Clear acrylic fully seals against circuit board access.

I think this photo is an accurate rendering of the nice, soft, cheerful 3000°K color. Of other commonly-offered LED color temperatures, I think 4000°K is too blue, and 2700°K is too yellow.

Found lights were 53 watt halogen, 75-watt incandescent equivalent. The improved garage is 200% brighter in the condition with door lowered. The opener CFL has little value.

Packaging is fully recyclable. There are only leftover connectors and screws. Good riddance to dangerous bare dimbulbs, though still operable. Good riddance to porcelain lampholders.

Could I have done as well, just screwing these in, in place of bulbs? Commercial Electric 7” LED Easy Light, $19.96, 830 lumens, 11.5 watts, 72 lumens per watt, 4000°K. I don't like the 4000°K color. There is virtue in the tall skirt, only for those too wiring-averse to toss out the antiquated lamp holder. I think the Versi Lite is much prettier, especially at  3000°K.

Here is a review of this alternative light, brighter and $10 cheaper:

What To Do With Porcelain Lampholders

There is never enough light in a garage, and in cavernous space, 4000°K might be OK. I reject this for a small, painted hallway with lampholders. There, trade excessive brightness, for better 3000°K color of a Versi Lite or Glimpse. Dispose of lampholders.

If Lithonia tracks this review, I wish for full reveal of these diodes with their 140° beam angle. Push the light surface out into the lens. Find a way to couple to the junction box without a detachable lens, like other disk LEDs. Get out of the big-box store Surface Mount display, as a simple down light, outclassing all that are foolishly recessed, beam angle wastefully reduced. Offer smaller 4" luminaires to match the 450 lumens so-wonderfully useful 4" Glimpse. See if you can move toward the vision of LED Starry Skies . Prefer 3000°K color temperature or a diode color mix on each board.