Saturday, August 30, 2014

Program Overhead Costs Killing Weatherization

In Oregon, program Clean Energy Works Oregon , has overhead cost of at least $5000 per home "served." $20,000,000 of "stimulus" money from US Dept Of Energy Better Buildings Neighborhood Program  has been squandered in 3200 homes. That is administration cost wrongly, illegally ,  not subjected to required cost/ benefit tests. Money spent in program administration only. None employed in the involved loans to home owners to actually, perhaps, do some good. $20 million/ 3200 = $6250 per. $5000? Well, maybe CEWO still had some of the $20 million left when stupidly given another year or so of life in a $10 million illegal gift of State of Oregon funds. Such administration cost looks a little less outrageous if a project costs at least $20,000, so CEWO will push needless furnace upgrades, windows that don't save money, a big photovoltaic array, whatever it takes. If your bid doesn't measure up, say coming in at only $14,000, your contractor, so used to all the fat-to-be-skimmed, won't really be interested. If you buy into one of these bad deals, you will never recover your investment in savings. Paying off your big fifteen year loan at 6% interest, you might not be able to afford things you really need in retaining a home: safe wiring, working plumbing, a sturdy roof, protective paint. It may be all of your maintenance budget, and a lot more, in the hands of that self-biased, hard-selling-schmooz "weatherization" general contractor.

CEWO is not alone in the maladministration. USDOE tells stories of its actions to grow the map, including taught deceptive marketing, gifts of stupid blower doors and more. Good deals need only publicity, never a hard sell.

Weatherization not done well, and so very expensively, is then being reconsidered. Should we just call it quits? Have we already plucked enough of the low-hanging fruit? Sadly, people even including our well intentioned Oregonian reporter , take that question seriously. In fact, we have hardly begun to weatherize our homes. Our wastefulness is growing. New homes are still built with energy bleeds including dozens of leaky incandescent or halogen can lights. More large attic floor defects are hidden every day, under spotty blankets of obstructive loose-fill insulation. Energy is cheap. Cheapest labor and materials must be found. Who cares? We are confused by the counterfeit, rationed weatherization for a random few.

In contrast to the cruel mindset of CEWO contractor-participants, please consider my experience in what a good insulation job should cost.

There is no place in the CEWO, Better Buildings, HPwES, BPI scheme, for the real job opportunities. Among the real job opportunities, each is to be done with full diligence . Instead, it is taught that a $3000 or more purchased BPI-liar certificate is prerequisite, creating a moat about those few, honored participants in the scam. Those participants dominate a badly shrunken and demoralized weatherization workforce, lacking pride. Those working outside the system then are unregulated and fully untrained. A few may be like me, just behaving with better morality, inventing the needed self-education.

Please know that 42 of my 104 insulation jobs include the creative work of inventing safe access with an insulated and gasketed ladder . On average, insulation is less than one third of job cost. Publicly-supported weatherization should provide for the access cost. It should also permit home owners, not those pocketing weatherization Generals, to hire heating contractors, electricians, roofers and perhaps a few other specialists, for associated prerequisite repairs else neglected. We have a common interest in the health of our homes. When someone suffers and must watch an investment decay, no one benefits.

The wastefulness of CEWO and other Better Buildings programs seems awful, but may the standard programs of Oregon's Energy Trust under our Public Purpose Fund, have even higher perceived overhead? The hundreds of millions of dollars spent by Energy Trust shall be strongly focused on residential energy efficiency. Consider the following Energy Trust statement in 2008 :

Market value of savings/generation (2002-2008)

Because of Energy Trust programs, electric utility customers use less fossil fuel generated
power and have lower utility bills. As of 2008, the electric bill savings from customers
participating in Energy Trust programs is estimated at $132 million a year. By sector, the
savings are:
Residential $ 60.5 million
Commercial $ 32.9 million
Industrial $ 38.6 million

Because of Energy Trust programs, natural gas utility customers use less gas and have lower utility bills. As of 2008, the savings on gas bills from customers participating in Energy Trust programs is estimated at $11.9 million a year. By sector, the savings are:
Residential $ 6.7 million
Commercial $ 5.2 million
Industrial $ 0.17 million

The total combined savings value to customers stemming from Energy Trust programs is $144 million annually as of 2008.

About half of Energy Trust's expenditure of Public Purpose Fund money shall have related to residential energy efficiency. Say $20 million are spent each year in the cause of residential weatherization, using numbers at program onset in 2002. If only 800 homes per year are served , that is an overhead of $25,000 per home engaged. Am I wrong? Shouldn't Energy Trust and its enabling Oregon Public Utilities Commission be deeply, deeply ashamed?

The answer to high overhead per home served is to increase the number of homes served by a needed number of times-fifty . How shall we do this? That is what the OPUC should be talking about at a hearing approximately September 30, 2014 . Will they?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Following ACEEE Blog, Furnace Fans As Energy Hog

I'm just a seventy-year old educated person doing weatherization of homes by myself as I see fit, learning and sharing methods and concern over policy issues. I blog. I maintain web sites. I have leading-edge insights in things I pursue, such as fast adoption of better LED down lighting. Writing on 8-26-2014, I am obsessed with an impending meeting in Portland, Oregon, on about 9-30-2014, a hearing of Oregon's Public Utility Commission in turmoil over strange assessment of weatherization cost-effectiveness . I have a lot to learn, if I am to have a contribution to a better outcome. In my research I see valuable writing by ACEEE, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. They have a blog, and near top I find this post :

June 25, 2014 - 12:12pm

By Joanna Mauer, Technical Advocacy Manager, Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP)

The Department of Energy (DOE) issued new efficiency standards today that will dramatically reduce the energy use of a little-known home energy hog. Furnace fans, which circulate heated and cooled air throughout a home, consume more than twice the electricity in a year as a typical new refrigerator. The new standards will cut the cost to power furnace fans by about 40% and also deliver improved comfort.
Most furnace fans come as part of a furnace. But in homes with central air conditioning, the fan circulates cooled air during the summer in addition to the heated air during the winter. Furnace fans consume about 1,000 kilowatt-hours per year, or almost 10% of the total electricity use of an average U.S. home. And yet, while the energy use of furnace fans is significantly higher than that of other common home appliances (see below), because furnace fans are inside a furnace, their energy consumption is hidden to most consumers.

And, I comment:

Your furnace fan likely consumes more than twice the electricity of your refrigerator. In time a new furnace will implement some cost savings for you. But, please think. In most homes, most of the load on that fan is in hacked-in D-boxes entering and leaving a furnace. We must NOT continue to build heating systems where ducting is an afterthought of the arriving installation crew. We must install intelligently-designed hydrodynamically-efficient plena . These plena must not be judged solely upon higher installed cost, to be avoided.
The fan is not simply the hog. It is the summation of fan with leaky and stupid ducting. We should replace that ducting now. When your furnace fails, and that is the cost-effective time to replace it , be ready with the better ducting already in place. Your installer won't give much thought to your ducts if called in an emergency, perhaps not offering improvement under any circumstance. Fix ducts now, upon your own initiative! The engineered plena and strongly-attached, zero leakage ducts, will only make your furnace more serviceable. In the deal, get rid of heat capacity in ducts , acting just like leakage.

At 9/28/2015, admit that electricity draw by a furnace with a squirrel cage fan goes down , if ducts are more resistive and blower flow is reduced. Added cost with poor duct design is in longer run times, and greatly increased run times to cope with an important room that has inadequate register flow. The savings in motor electrical efficiency are very large , but this is not associated with a campaign for better ducts. In time, I will rewrite the previous paragraph. I will not relent in campaigning for well-built ducts, asserting that octopus D-box ducting is foolish.

At 9/27/2016, begin reporting of experimental measurements of blower behavior as function of duct resistance. Here is a setup to measure furnace electrical power draw, as one of the efficiency parameters:

This Kill-A -Watt meter is in series with all electrical power draw of my furnace with very-efficient ducts. The display here is of 7 watts dead draw. In a heating cycle, the power steps up to 130 watts while firing and then to about 450 watts (5.2 amps) while the blower runs. 

If I fully cover the return air filter with cardboard, I hear rumbling complaint, and power draw falls to 400 watts. The lesson is that duct inefficiency will have little effect on momentary power draw, yet large impact on fuel and electrical energy consumed, in proportion to cycle time, inverse to blower flow rate.

My challenge in assessing savings from improvement of duct efficiency will be to sense change of blower flow rate with logical reduction of duct resistance.

Squirrel cage blower flow rate impact of reduced duct resistance 

Find AMCA, Air Movement and Control Association International, Inc. , via Wikipedia at top of the search. I hope that AMCA can help me in test setup for the myriad of home situations I will face. I am advised by excellent blower manufacturer Rosenberg USA , that flow rate is not easily or accurately inferred from static pressure measurements. I don't expect to get much help from any furnace manufacturer.

I can reach some conclusions about operation with variable duct resistance, from two non-obtrusive holes in my furnace ducts. Operate my new Testo 510 digital manometer in scale Pascals, Pa. I don't need any heat in warm late-September, but run the thermostat up to force heating cycles.

With furnace firing and blower running, read 33 to 35 Pa across the filter. Close 75% of floor registers and read 27 to 28 Pa, corresponding to a 10% drop in flow through the filter. After firing stops, and with registers again open, observe 32 to 33 Pa filter pressure differential.

Extreme changes to ducts aren't likely to change blower flow by more than 10%. Where reduced flow is with same heat input, the temperature at registers will go up, and cycle time will change little.

I learn here that measurements of operating cost effect, may not help to justify duct innovation. Perhaps it is enough to offer such for reasons of getting ducts buried, out of harms way. and for better regulation of equal register flows without need of dampers and their confused settings. In the process, ensure there is zero leakage of ducts, and a minimum of the leakage-like effect of needless thermal mass of steel, swinging with furnace cycles.

Where I offer sealing and insulation improvement along with duct innovation, I despair of making sense of measurements now possible with my investment in instruments, from long-term monitoring of expected home energy savings. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Better Math On Weatherization

We see in an article in the Oregonian Newspaper, on 8/3/2014   that Energy Trust Of Oregon , my local handler of public funds for weatherization, has found that weatherization doesn't pay, even when computed for a 45 year life of a measure. I prove that wrong, always. There are very good returns even in a home where Energy Trust saw  nothing to be done, with firm no-bid by a competitor. It's a post at this blog generally challenging Energy Trust's policies:
Math Of Under-R12 Attic Floor Insulation Rule, For Incentives 
The good returns are far more than a matter of adding floor insulation and have no resort to a silly blower door. They include attic floor sealing, thorough R30 insulation in attic walls and installing LED lights, all rejected as profitable measures, by Energy Trust. A five-year payback is computed for hard-covered R30 attic wall insulation in a further blog post for this home:
A Skylight Insulated >R30, With Plywood Hard-Covering 
There is similar under five year payback for upgrade to LED lighting in most cases, and even faster payback for air sealing.

As local enabler and enforcer of US Dept. Of Energy’s Home Performance With Energy Star, HPwES, Energy Trust teaches that a blower door is the engine of weatherization, finding energy-saving opportunities and verifying their completion. “Weatherization” is first about tightening our houses in ways that measurably decrease “infiltration.” The tighter, the better. Little-trained fools are building scientists, who infer what must be done from the blower door numbers. Without the numbers, solutions can not be found. The captains of weatherization under leadership of Building Performance Institute, shall be BPI certified  believers in the testing in and testing out every home, with a blower door. Air sealing shall be trusted and supported with public funds, only where done, very poorly, by the BPI liars. This is baloney. It must not continue.

Work under HPwES is done poorly, in part, because a blower door generally reverses flow in leakage paths, inviting repair only in living spaces, along a carpet, say. Repairs must instead be done in the attic, never with, or needing, clues from a blower door. Specific needed repairs, perhaps difficult, will never be included in a HPwES estimators' authorized work list. Where a diligent worker might volunteer, unhappily in darkness and danger, and it is not expected, why should he bother?.

Despite the notions about infiltration, Energy Trust does not require  that such "prep" must be done before rebate-offered addition of insulation. This is madness, with "weatherization" very often doing more harm than good. Money to be saved in the prep, then barred for decades, is commonly double that to be saved by added insulation.

Fresh Air Math
One problem in tightening up houses against exchange of fresh air, beyond the obvious in quality construction, is that it does not save much money in fuel costs. That is what Energy Trust is now awkwardly and confusedly admitting. Little energy is needed to raise or lower the temperature of air. All gases have low specific heat .  One might excessively tighten a house, but there is no money in it, that would offset excessive cost in extreme tightening. Further, significant tightening in existing homes, promised with HPwES, has almost never been delivered.

A healthy home should be refreshed with 0.35 air changes per hour, 0.35 ACHnat.  In a 1000 sq ft home with eight-foot ceilings, this is 0.35*1000*8/60 = 47 cubic feet of fresh air per minute. In a Portland, Oregon year with 4400 heating degree days, heating with an old gas furnace, and with $1 per therm consumer cost, this air is heated at cost of $35 per year. Say the real cost of natural gas counting irreversible depletion and environmental ruin, and military adventure, is $4 per therm. The cost of the fresh air is still only $140 per year. Of this fresh air cost, little is controllable. 

In corresponding bigger numbers, times twenty, now consider blower door test numbers. A blower door measures infiltration with the home strangely exhausted at the rate thought to occur if a twenty mph wind were blowing on all sides, driving air inward. The odd air flow measurement is labeled CFM50, cubic feet per minute at fan pressure differential of fifty pascals, 0.0073 psi. CFM50 and ACH50 are roughly twenty times larger than reverse-flow rates at natural conditions. I think that all payback math for weatherization should be computed with natural gas cost of at least $2 per therm, and use that number in my math. The math  of fresh air cost is: Annual Heating Cost = 0.074 * CFM50, $70 per year for that 1000 sf home with 47 CFMnat. I hope you are still with me, and see the consistency and bases, in the math.

Now talk of the range of control of infiltration. It is rarely more than 1.0 ACH50, 0.05 ACHnat, 7 CFMnat and 140 CFM50, for that 1000 sf home. Annual value in this range of control is $10 per year, at $2 per therm for natural gas. I have known this for years, and have alerted the fact to Energy Trust in hope they would cease promotion of blower door scams. 

In a reasonably tight home where obvious drafts have been controlled, we feel winter cold of air not from infiltration, but from convection of air against cold walls, floors and ceilings. Cold surfaces, felt especially at floors, exist because of poor insulation and because of bathing of back sides with outside air. Stopping that bathing of backsides, and thorough placement of insulation, are what weatherization is about, not some pretense with a blower door.

Where Energy Trust now salutes disappointing returns in weatherization  they fail to understand their error and to be ashamed. They will happily go on with little residential work to do, and more money to misspend on utility and business payouts. Creepy blow and go contractors they love and award their top Three Star rating, who have refused to do air sealing, are hereafter and forever more, defended against criticism.  In all of this there is yet no admission of blower door stupidity. In Portland this Summer we saw distasteful door to door pushing by HPwES/ CEWO  blow and goers claiming to offer free Energy Trust money. I accuse that these kids in new Company shirts with Energy Trust logo, were paid with “cooperative marketing” dirty money, with nothing free for a home owner. It seems HPwES, Clean Energy Works Oregon, EPS, all the programs promoting blower door scams, are alive and well. How can they persist against declared uselessness of actions purportedly guided by a blower door?

The City Of Portland is shamed through endorsement of CEWO, which was hatched in a pilot program of its Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.  BPS stationery has been applied in annual CEWO bulk mailings, a letter, and a follow-up postcard. It appears that Portland taxpayers have paid the cost of this mailing campaign.

I have gotten a letter like this every year, for three years, mailing costs totaling a half-million dollars I reckon. I find the letter scandalous on many counts, starting with offensive foot-in-door threat about deadlines, wanting reckless action. This one arrived 8/13/2014. If a million have been sent, and there are 3500 takers, it proves the offer is correctly judged a very bad deal. We hear instead that 3500 unusually willing and able to take on an inflated $20,000 pile of fifteen-year debt, proves that it is not a bad deal. If you need $3000 of very important work and need up-front financing, you are out of luck. If you are a renter, too paying into our Public Purpose Fund, you can just pay the higher bills, perhaps demeaned with public support. Your landlord knows that helping out, doing the right thing against bleeding of energy and personal suffering, is not expected or rewarded in our City.

So, what shall we do with blower doors? They shall not be used in many of our homes. In our homes, in the matter of sealing wall headers , we have expended the testing budget. There might yet be some academic testing as we defend the real reasons all wall headers must be sealed. I would like to buy mine back , at dimes on the dollar, to be part of the academic effort. My own home is a test lab, testing in at 10.1 ACH50, and probably now down to less than 7.0. I would share my findings on what works. From all of the BPI blower door madness, we have learned nothing about what, in controlling air circulation, contributes to a healthy home. It was only about rewarding and enforcing the reckless HPwES believers, all results confidential for protection of scammers.

We shall go on tightening our houses against attic floor pits and air-barrier encapsulation of all insulation, knowing it is not a game of blower door numbers. We must act with knowledge added insulation does pay, after measures of sealing, upgrade to LED plate lighting and safety modernization of wiring and plumbing are done first. Insulation cost is repaid in much less than twenty years even at modest $2 per therm energy cost. Regulators such as Oregon's Public Utility Commission may be commanded to employ fifty-year cost of energy in the administration of public funds for weatherization. Cheap and evil fracked natural gas will expire in less than ten years , evident to any responsible person, and government must act responsibly. We are not done with weatherization. For the poor especially, and especially for meanly-neglected renters, we have hardly begun.

Monday, August 4, 2014

A Silly Test Of Wall Header Sealing, In Oregon

Here is the report of a silly test of air sealing in Oregon new-home construction:

Final Evaluation Report - New Homes Air Sealing Pilot 

Photo Caption:
Figure 1. Photograph of sill sealer (pink band at top of wall) installed on the top plate prior to drywall installation (courtesy of Fluid Market Strategies; Manclark, 2013).

I judge that pink material in this photo is OWENS CORNING  FoamSealR Sill Gasket - 3 1/2 inch x 50 feet. x 1/4 inch,  roll polyethylene foam, sold in Home Depot stores  and elsewhere. Thickness might be as little as 3/16" in a less-available roll 4" wide and 86' long. Either is too thick, too wide and too incompressible, not imagined for this application.

I found edges of this material in November 2013, in a new Hillsboro, Oregon DR Horton home, both sides of each interior-wall header, upon installing a needed attic ladder. I couldn't reach out to exterior walls, those shown in the photo. I infer that all walls were treated, at top header only. The report of the air sealing test admits unhappiness of involved drywall installers. Drywall panels are placed with sliding action that tends to grab and roll the strips, and a deservedly-angry installer will rip out the damnation. The non-flat panel edges show, and that can't be hidden with ordinary mudding. There are better ways, of course.

The better ways to seal wall headers in wall construction include use of building gaskets by Conservation Technology, Baltimore, MD .

Here is copied descriptive text by Conservation Technology:

DRYWALL GASKETS: BG32 drywall gaskets are stapled to wall studs, top plates, and bottom plates before drywall is installed in order to prevent air flow between the drywall and the wood. They can be easily installed in any weather, even when wood is cold, wet, or dirty. The head of the seal compresses easily to less than 1/8”, so there is minimal pressure on the drywall. Always screw the drywall where gaskets are used.

Please know that Conservation Technology also offers best rim joist and sill plate gaskets:

At the associated Picasa web album , please find photo excerpts of the Conservation Technology products, and of exterior-wall header sealing achieved without gaskets where Swedish Tenoarm air/ vapor barrier material is employed. Buy the Tenoarm too from Conservation Technology.

Please see discussion of wall header sealing as weatherization retrofit, in the attic floor, at posts including this:
Wall Header Sealing With Flexible Grout 

Silliness of the test accused? That a blower door measures effectiveness , and that a better sealing means was not found. Anything that requires a bribe for delivery, is wrong. No one should mind working with BG32 gaskets. They cost no more than the roll foam. Close to board ends, they do not affect drywall fit-up, shape and mudding. Wall header sealing must be made mandatory. The gaskets are an easier way, and can be delivered at outside walls not accessible from the attic. We don't need to retool, and do more stupid play with blower doors. Sealing will stop action of attic floor pits, far more than it affects exchange of outside air. Testing might instead consider the thermodynamics of interior wall flooding through wall header gaps of variable size. "Experiments" should never be conducted where conditions are not controlled, and where instruments are insensitive to results.

This goes beyond silliness, to deceit. There is a budget and strong intent , to continue the madness of the Energy Trust/ DR Horton Homes program despite now knowing better, where all involved are aware of my criticism.

It isn't only that wasteful experiments take place employing inappropriate gaskets. High-end new homes are being built in Oregon, where foolish gasketing is done as taught good practice. I found this gasket scrap under insulation on the floor of a new home attic. It was ripped from stapling as a probably-angry act. If by drywallers as is likely, no other sealing was offered in its place. This is not a less-expensive way to seal wall headers. Please, let us commit to sealing in all new homes and tear-down remodels, using good gaskets from Conservation  Technology.

Working in customer existing-home attics, I have not had opportunity of wall header sealing other than as forcing of flexible grout from the attic, upon interior walls. My practice in this is detailed in the advocacy web site, Plaster Repair How To, search Label: Wall Header Sealing . Gaps found have sometimes been huge, up to 1/4" and not possible of sealing with any practical gasket. I found such gaps even in my own home, well built by my uncle and oldest brother. Here are drippings from wet grout that penetrated stuffed-in fiberglass insulation, revealed in demolition for a kitchen remodel. I will always believe that surest sealing of headers is from the attic, before a careful manual placement of batt insulation.

Although I can do right again in my attic, at last buy a coil of BG32 gasket from Conservation Technology. 

A 100 ft coil serving 200 lineal feet of wall at top and bottom, is inexpensive. This coil cost me $40, plus $23.25 shipping. A local wholesaler could have sold the coil for $50. This is fully affordable and must be mandatory where cost is repaid with savings in about one year.

The gasket material is tough EPDM. Know that EPDM has 5 to 10 year shelf life and will remain serviceable indefinitely while not disturbed.

Split lengths for two gaskets, with scissors.

Attach with staples. Here on an interior wall, I will back up gap filling in the attic. See that I have sealed the existing drywall of the opposing room, with flexible grout. I have stuffed annuli around electrical wires, with Rockwool scraps.

On an exterior wall stuffed with insulation and with windows and doors, value of the BG32 gasket is uncertain. I didn't apply it before placing drywall to the right of this door. At 25 cents per ft, top-only, the cost is trivial. I got more placement practice, learning that 3/8" staples are needed.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Air Sealing Is Not Cost-Effective?

This post has been under construction for about two months. Completion  is prompted by a disturbing article in the Oregonian Newspaper, on 8/3/2014 . The article is by staff writer Ted Sickinger, and it wrongly states as fact, that many weatherization measures, especially air sealing, are not cost-effective where computed only for savings at consumer cost of natural gas.

Proceed then, to refute Energy Trust's conclusions about air sealing:

Air sealing is not cost-effective as stated by Energy Trust Of Oregon Director Of Energy Programs, Peter West, on December 2, 2013, at PDF page 71 of 173, in Energy Trust of Oregon 2014 Annual Budget and 2014-2015 Action Plan .

Here are excerpted statements by Peter West:

Subject: air sealing

CAC members and participants,

At the October and November Conservation Advisory Council meetings we addressed 2014
program strategies and incentive changes. At those meetings there was significant discussion
of the recommended incentive changes for air sealing for existing homes. Thank you for your
participation in that discussion. Energy Trust values the input and ideas that you bring to this
forum. I want to take a moment to provide an update on the staff direction after the feedback.

As you recall we have looked at this measure over the last two years. We noted last year that it had fallen well below cost-effectiveness standards and agreed to additional analysis. After more review and a look at more data, we found it had deteriorated further in cost-effectiveness. The payback period for the consumer now far exceeds the expected life of the measure. In October we brought the issue forward for comment with a draft proposal to end the measure for all existing homes. After initial feedback we agreed to consider retaining it for those electric-heated homes where it could be cost-effective. We brought that idea forward in November.

After hearing from Conservation Advisory Council members in November about the loss of the measure for gas customers, and consulting with the Oregon Public Utility Commission, Energy Trust further modified its proposal. We have chosen to maintain the 2013 incentive of $150 for air sealing in gas and electrically heated homes through the remainder of the 2013-2014 heating season with a modification: starting in 2014, in addition to previous measure requirements, homes must have been built during or before 1982 to qualify. This quick, simple, screening step will focus air sealing efforts on homes built prior to the first major code modifications and where air sealing appears to have the most savings impact.

We will continue to pilot new approaches as proposed and will conduct further analysis of this
measure in 2014, in an effort to improve its cost-effectiveness. We plan to work with the trade ally stakeholder group on additional requirements and revisions to current standards that can be applied to improve the cost-effectiveness of this measure in 2014.

As required, Energy Trust continues to identify measures that are not currently meeting the
cost-effectiveness threshold. We will work with the Oregon Public Utility Commission to obtain their guidance through the open docket expected to conclude in mid-2014. We encourage Conservation Advisory Council members to be actively engaged in that docket. We will continue to engage Conservation Advisory Council regarding subsequent program changes.

Thank you for your time and contribution to this discussion.

Peter West
Director of Energy Programs
Energy Trust of Oregon, Inc.

This statement is not before challenged. The backpedaling to retain $150 customer payout in 2014 was praised. The notion that math proves measure ineffectiveness, to me, is absurd. Surely the math can not and will not be offered. Yet, I think I know how it is done. It comes from the absurd lie that benefit is a measurable difference in before/ after blower  door readings, where those numbers are presented in each rebate application, not for public disclosure or interpretation. Since the most important sealing is of attic floor pits, a flooding of interior walls with attic air, "air sealing" is not measurable by a blower door.

I have persisted in criticizing Energy Trust, when they claim a mathematical basis for policy decisions on air sealing. My persistence led to this email message of June 23, 2014:
Hello, Phil:

I appreciated your polite and honest approach when we sat down to talk for a few minutes during last week’s roundtable. These are clearly frustrating problems, and you seemed to put that aside when we talked. I’m sorry we didn’t have more time before I had to answer other questions and restart the meeting.

Although I wasn’t able to answer your questions thoroughly at last week’s meeting, I have more information that will help. I discussed the air sealing numbers, and conclusions, with our evaluations group. The air sealing numbers and supporting documentation are in the 2009 Existing Homes Gas Impact Analysis, in the reports section of our website. You will find other useful information in that section, which provides access to impact and process evaluations.

Briefly, process evaluations look closely at how we deliver our programs, while impact evaluations look at how much was actually saved, at what cost, compared to our estimates. Impact evaluations go heavily into statistics, and the reports include an explanation of how data were gathered and analyzed, and what assumptions were made.

That’s what I can provide. The evaluations and planning department has a wealth of knowledge and experience in this area, and their conclusions are sound – and serve as the basis for our program decisions.

Cost effectiveness seems like an easy topic on the surface, but the conclusions depend heavily on what one chooses to measure in the ratios. Again, that’s not my area of expertise, but I’ve had the discussion often enough that I can clearly see the source of the confusion. One of the biggest debates – how to quantify and measure non-energy benefits (or if they should be measured) – has continued for as many years as there has been energy efficiency programs of any type. Our director of planning and evaluations and others on the CAC have discussed that topic in their various roles for 30+ years.

Again, I hope this is helpful to you.

The offered documentation, 2009 Existing Homes Gas Impact Analysis is this: 
This is relevant but is marked DRAFT and is unofficial.

The referenced Reports Section had no relevant content before June, 2014. 
On 6/13/2014, the following was posted:
Existing Homes Process Evaluation 
This is irrelevant.

On 6/17/2014 the following was posted:

On 7/4/2014, the following was added:
Seems significant, but only has ratios with no stated bases. A Total Resource Cost, Benefit Cost Ratio, TRC/ BCR for air sealing is given as 0.2. If the resource cost includes $500 for blower door foolery in $5000 per home CEWO overhead vs. common air sealing savings of $200 per year, just eliminate those costs. Fire all of the sucker-baiters at CEWO. Strongly discipline the program fools at Energy Trust and send them on a new mission. Separate ourselves from national madness in HPwES forced by US Department of Energy through their bottomless funding. Require every weatherization contractor to do full sealing at usual cost per home of $200. This is then payback in one year. The TRC/ BCR of 0.2 has meaning only if the ridiculous and avoidable program costs are admitted.

Consider now whether these pdf documents are the stated proof. They are not. The failure of proof is through conceptual error, that savings are calculated only as cost of make-up air associated with measured change in air infiltration. In fact, even with newest homes, air sealing is far more a matter of closing attic floor pits, large openings in an attic floor not matched by leakage paths through walls and floors below. Attic temperature, hot or cold, is transmitted to rooms below by air convection. Think of attic floor bare-area equivalents as developed in this blog post , to see that even small floor-continuity defects multiply in their significance. There is a churning of attic air up and down even through narrow wall header gaps, where I propose that bare-area equivalence might be on average 10% of attic floor area. This can and should be proven experimentally.

Here are some new examples of attic floor pits, illustrating that very new homes are not less needful of air sealing, than older homes.

Combing through the reports, find that the grand measure of sealing wall headers in the attic floor by installing foam gaskets to top plates before wall drywall application, reduces ACH50 by less than 1.0.

Simple math finds dollar cost of heating make-up air, Annual Heating Cost = 0.074 * CFM50. This is with natural gas heat at $2 per therm, about double the current consumer cost in Oregon, and still far below actual cost including expiring availability and environmental destruction.

A 1000 sq ft home with eight foot ceilings has air volume 8000 cubic feet, and 1.0 ACH50 is 8000 cubic feet per hour, 133 CFM50. Associated savings at 0.074*CFM50 are $10 per year.  Air has tiny heat capacity, and the energy required costs very little.

Most homes, old and new, will have air sealing opportunities more valuable than sealing wall headers. But, say a 1000 sf home has only wall header gaps, sealed. Say the sealing also stills an attic floor pit, fully-exposed wall area 10% of 1000 sf. The additional convection-heat savings are more than $70 per year, with heat of an ordinary gas furnace, in metro Portland, Oregon, at that $2 per therm gas cost, by posted math . A combined savings of $80 per year would be weighed against perhaps four man-hours of labor, and no material cost. We don't need to do laboratory testing, to convince ourselves the work is worthwhile.

For a number of purposes, let's state the above wall header sealing savings numbers for a 1000 sf home in Portland, Oregon, in therms, taking out the question of fair cost of natural gas. $10 at $2 per therm is 5 therms to heat exchanged fresh air. $70 at $2 per therm is 35 therms for attic pit effect, an excess of attic openings.

Air sealing is very important and is very cost-effective, but it must be assessed with consideration of attic floor pits . Savings opportunities must be delivered by a diligent and empowered worker who creates safe, lighted work conditions, and gets to the bottom of concealing insulation. Savings opportunities are not discovered by the clean-shirted fool with a blower door. Savings are not delivered by an honest worker lacking instructions, unimagined by the estimator.