New York must make energy efficiency a priority now

This is re-posted from an op-ed in the Times Union written by Adam Procell and Andy Frank, our founder and company president:

With the federal government turning its back on commitments to combat climate change and promote clean energy, state leadership is needed more than ever. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has stepped up to the plate, working with other states to found the U.S. Climate Alliance, and by adopting strong policies to advance clean energy. Under the direction of Chairman of Energy and Finance Richard Kauffman, New York has laid out a bold plan known as Reforming the Energy Vision.

Now that the state Senate has confirmed John Rhodes as the new Public Service Commission chairman and Phil Wilcox and Jim Alesi as commissioners, the commission is finally poised to follow through on REV’s plan to scale up energy efficiency markets across the state. But action is needed now to meet the promise of REV.

The idea behind REV is to incorporate clean sources of energy, such as solar, wind and energy efficiency, into our electricity system on an equal footing with traditional energy and infrastructure. But, despite the fact that energy efficiency is often the cheapest way to reduce carbon emissions and deliver other grid benefits, New York is only scratching the surface — and even losing ground in delivering this critical resource.

While other states are reducing load by nearly 3 percent every year with new efficiency, New York is stuck at far lower levels. By matching leading states, New York could save up to $3 billion in electricity costs alone from 2020 through 2030, without even counting all of the other efficiency benefits (home comfort, business productivity, etc.). New York boasts as many as 110,000 jobs across the energy efficiency supply chain, and we can grow many more.

In other words, New York can be the Saudi Arabia of energy efficiency, creating more jobs and lowering energy use and bills by adopting energy efficiency as the centerpiece of REV.

With REV, Cuomo envisions a market-based approach, where utilities and developers of energy efficiency are paid for the value delivered (including carbon reductions). It is an exciting vision, but is not yet adopted in any concrete form. In the absence of clear policies, existing state and utilty energy efficiency programs have been shrinking, and plans for the near future remain modest at best. The result? Jobs across the state are being lost every day.

The Building Performance Contractors Association, a trade association that works with hundreds of green-collar businesses in New York, estimates that its member companies have laid off 10 to 30 percent of its workers in the last year, while others are leaving the industry altogether. In contrast, these same businesses could be hiring 50 to 100 percent more workers if there was a clear policy that truly reflected the value of energy efficiency.

With the Public Service Commission at full strength, the time to act is now. The commission has full authority to fulfill the REV promise by adopting firm efficiency goals, and rules that will stimulate efficiency investments.

If the governor and the PSC will not act, the Legislature will. Sen. Dan Carlucci has introduced a bill (S6771), to ensure New York continues to be a leader in energy efficiency. Whatever the means, we need to make sure energy efficiency is a priority in New York now and into the future.

Solar and efficiency: a perfect pair

Home efficiency is Sealed’s focus. We love helping our customers improve the comfort, health, and value of their home while paying for those improvements with energy savings.

As a trusted energy advisor, however, we get a lot of questions about solar. Efficiency and solar are cousins—they are both great ways to take control of your home energy use, improve your home value, and limit your home’s carbon footprint.

But of course efficiency and solar operate in different ways: an efficient home requires less energy to operate and a solar home produces its own electric power. And so while we don’t sell solar ourselves, we have set up a partnership with EnergySage to provide customers with the best information possible.

What is EnergySage? EnergySage is a solar marketplace where you can receive multiple solar quotes based on your home and preferences to make the most informed decision possible.

Just go to sealed.com/solar to get started!

Want to learn more? Read on!

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Announcing the HomeAdvance program!

Sealed is excited to announce that we have partnered with the New York Green Bank to launch the groundbreaking Sealed HomeAdvance program!

HomeAdvance is the first program that invests in the energy savings resulting from residential efficiency improvements. This program will help New York homeowners benefit from up to $7.5 million in efficiency projects. For the first time ever, homeowners can pay for these improvements using the resulting energy savings instead of paying cash or taking out a loan.

This is a huge step forward for both our business and the residential efficiency industry, and we’re excited to spread the word and begin rolling out the program!

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Announcing new partnerships!

At Sealed, we’re passionate about helping our customers make their homes better places to live. Whether it’s fixing cold floors, drafts, or stuffy rooms, we help our customers live in the comfort they deserve.

We don’t want to stop there though—we want to help our community too!

Sealed is excited to announce our inaugural partnerships through the Sealed Superheroes program. Through the Superheroes program, Sealed helps community organizations meet critical fundraising goals. Here’s how it works:

· A community partner spreads the word about Sealed to its members
· Members of the partner organization have free home energy assessments with Sealed
· We make a donation to the partner organization for every assessment completed

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Air leakage costs you $100+ a year on your energy bills. Here’s what you can do about it.

Whether you feel a draft while sitting on your couch or an unwelcome breeze while walking upstairs, you likely have felt some of the symptoms of air leakage. And because air leakage causes energy waste, you’ve certainly felt its impact on your energy bills.

Luckily, you’re not alone and there’s an affordable fix. In our work in Long Island, we find that the typical home is 2-3 times as leaky as it should be. It’s like keeping a window open all year round!

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Blown Cellulose Insulation: To DIY or not to DIY?

It’s the end of January, and winter has finally arrived in the Northeast. Cold snaps like these often prompt homeowners to upgrade their insulation.

At Sealed, we’re big fans of blown cellulose insulation for attics and walls. It’s cost-effective and gets the job done far better than fiberglass, particularly when it comes to keeping your home warm and reducing your heating bills.

At first, blowing cellulose insulation into your attic may seem like the perfect DIY project. It sounds simple: go into your attic with a hose and blow insulation until it stands 15 inches tall. What’s so hard about that?

It turns out that properly insulating an attic requires a couple challenging steps before blowing the cellulose. You might think twice before doing them yourself.

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Correcting the 3 Biggest Energy Efficiency Misconceptions

Energy efficiency is a powerful, but very misunderstood energy resource. Here at Sealed we see the good, the bad, and the ugly every day. Unfortunately, policymakers, investors, partners, and other stakeholders do not always appreciate the true opportunities and challenges in this market.

The three biggest misconceptions we hear people talking about are:

  1. Customers care the most about lowering energy bills
  2. Better financing is the highest impact solution
  3. Efficiency is too messy and complicated to scale

These misconceptions cause real damage in the market because they lead to policies, business models, and marketing strategies that will inevitably fail.

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When Going Mainstream Makes Sense: Oil-to-Gas Conversions

Do you heat your home with oil? If so, you are part of a small minority nationwide that’s continues shrinking every year. Compared to 48 percent of gas-heated homes, only 5.3% of homes in the U.S. used oil for heating in 2014, down from 7.6% in 2005.

And it makes sense—even with the oil price around $60 per barrel, natural gas still remains up to three times cheaper per unit of energy. Oil-to-gas conversions are one of specialties here at Sealed, so let’s dive right in!

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