Why You Should Work at Sealed

It is an exciting time at Sealed. We have doubled in size in the last few months and announced a groundbreaking partnership with National Grid. We are building a team that is focused on doing something really special, with the potential to make a very significant environmental, economic, and social impact. Nobody else is doing what we do, and the possibilities are literally endless.

Sealed started over 2 years ago in an apartment in Queens, and we are now closing in on a scalable model to radically reduce the energy and environmental impact of our homes.

As we continue to grow the company, we want to build our team with people who are also looking to make an impact and invest their time and energy in important goals.

Check out our jobs page if you want make the best decision of your life.

 

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Qualify for Rebates!

Hello readers! My name is Catherine and I am one of the summer interns here at Sealed. Before I launch into my first blog post, a brief introduction is in order.

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I am undergraduate at NYU, where I study environmental science. A few fun facts about myself:

  • I’m from New Jersey. The entire Sealed team mocks this mercilessly. So do I.
    • Subfact: I live next door to Snooki (nope, not a joke).
  • I am attempting to read Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace this summer (1,000+ pages and 70+ pages of endnotes). It is not going well.
  • My dream meal consists exclusively of baked desserts. My version of the food pyramid is in the shape of a crepe.

And now, on the fun stuff—saving you oodles of money!

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The (real) cost and value of energy efficiency

(Nerd alert. This is Andy again, giving another light economic policy analysis of energy efficiency. Feel free to ignore if you are a normal person.)

People in energy policy circles tend to talk in relatively blase terms when it comes to energy efficiency. The conventional wisdom is that energy efficiency is massive, simple and cheap:

“The ‘fifth fuel’, as energy efficiency is sometimes called, is the cheapest of all. A report by ACEEE, an American energy-efficiency group, reckons that the average cost of saving a kilowatt hour is 2.8 cents; the typical retail cost of one in America is 10 cents. In the electricity-using sector, saving a kilowatt hour can cost as little as one-sixth of a cent, says Mr Lovins of Rocky Mountain Institute, so payback can be measured in months, not years.”

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A (free) home energy assessment might save your life

We here at Sealed are all about guaranteeing your energy savings. However, did you know that a home energy assessment could also save your life?

Before I go any further, a little introduction. I’m working with Sealed to spread the word about home energy efficiency while studying energy policy and management at Columbia University. And coming from Northern Europe (Latvia), I know how to appreciate a warm, cozy home that does not waste money.

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How the **** does Sealed work?? (Andrew McCarthy)

Hello, loyal readers! I’m Andrew McCarthy, and I oversee all of our customer-facing operations at Sealed. As this is my first blog post, a personal introduction is in order.

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Besides being handsome, charming, single, and modest, here are a few fun facts about me (all related to music coincidentally):

  • I once drove a member of the Wu Tang Clan to the airport
  • I not-so-secretly wish I were / think that I am Bruce Springsteen (maybe this is why I’m single)
  • I was part of a Blink 182 cover band in junior high called “8 Stories High”

Prior to Sealed, I taught 7th-grade math in New Orleans (hence my picture above…) and worked with a non-profit in Tanzania. Compared to that, home energy improvements are a piece of cake!

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5 common energy efficiency misconceptions (Dan Hochman)

Hi, my name is Dan Hochman, and I manage our efforts in New York. Prior to joining Sealed, I had the pleasure (and pain) of being the only non-engineer in an energy engineering Master’s program at Carnegie Mellon. I grew up in Manhattan but now rock suburbia on a daily basis (usually with 90s Hip Hop playing in the car).

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Most people tell me I’m a 65-year old living in a 25-year old body. My favorite customers discuss interest rate trends as I tell them about the efficiency of their boiler. Jewish grandmothers also love me – I’ve got a bit of Mensch on a Bench thing going on.

Working with Sealed, I have learned a ton about how homes use energy, and common misconceptions that many people have.

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The 3 biggest energy efficiency myths (Harrison Pao)

Hi, my name is Harrison and I’m a Junior at Columbia University. For the past six months, I have worked as an intern at Sealed, speaking with hundreds of homeowners that are interested in energy efficiency.

Based on these conversations, I have learned that many homeowners want to make their homes energy efficient to increase the comfort, health and value of their home as well as to lower their energy bills.

But I have also learned many of the misguided reasons why some people decide not to improve the energy efficiency of their home. These are three common misconceptions about home energy efficiency.  

1: It’s too expensive!

“These improvements are just too expensive. I want to make my home more energy efficient, but I just don’t have the money”

Perhaps the most common misconception about making your home more energy efficient is that it will be too expensive. However, energy efficiency can actually save you money instead of costing you anything!  

There are rebates and financing programs available in almost every state. The rebates lower the total cost of the project, and financing means there are no upfront costs. This means you have a loan payment that pays off your project over time.

But unlike any other home improvements, energy efficiency also saves you money by lowering your energy bills. These savings help pay for most (if not all) of the loan payment, making the project much cheaper than the sticker price, and in many cases negative!

I remember speaking to one particular homeowner, Jim, who was interested in improving the energy efficiency of his home.  He’d been meaning to fix his daughter’s room which was always cold in the winter, but couldn’t spend too much money right now because he’s already paying a mortgage and college tuition.

However, Jim became excited when I explained why these improvements can be affordable.  He especially liked that lowering his bills could result in a negative project cost, but was still a bit skeptical that these improvements would actually lower his bills.

 

2: What if I don’t actually save?

“But what if I make these improvements to my home but they actually don’t save me any money?  Why should I trust these improvements?”  

Previously, this was not just a misconception, it was a real problem. Any contractor can do work on your home and estimate your energy savings, say 20% on your heating bills. But since this is only an estimate, there is still the risk that these savings will not pan out.  

Sealed is unique because it removes this risk by guaranteeing that you will save on your bills. If Sealed guarantees that you will save 20% on your heating bills, but in actuality you only save 10%, Sealed will pay that difference so you save the full 20%. Sealed takes the risk for you so that you can lower your bills with the comfort of a guarantee.  

When I explained how Sealed guarantees savings to Jim, he recognized that by making his home more energy efficient he could make his home warm for the winter while ending up with extra money in his pocket.

 

3:  It’s a hassle!

“I don’t have the time and energy to make my home efficient. Plus, I just can’t deal with a mess in my home right now”

Trying to fix up your home really is often a hassle. Nobody wants to search for quotes and advice from different contractors or deal with a mess in their home for weeks.

But the great news about energy efficiency is that most of the improvements are quick and non-intrusive to install. Insulation, air sealing and HVAC replacement are all done in the nooks and crannies of your home so nothing is disrupted in your living areas. And most of the time the work is done in a single day, meaning that there is no lengthy process.

This was another concern of Jim’s. With a full time job and a young family he didn’t have the time to search for a contractor and didn’t want a construction crew disrupting his children. Jim was however very pleased with the work that was done to his home. The improvements were done in a single day so there was no mess, and his daughter’s room became more comfortable the very next day!

The bottom line is that, despite popular misconceptions, energy efficiency improvements are affordable, reliable and easy.

Please visit sealed.com to learn more about how you can make your home energy efficient today! 

#OpenEnergyMarkets and the EPA Carbon Rules

Yesterday, the EPA released their long-awaited carbon rules that aim to reduce US carbon by 30% by 2030.  

While there will of course be plenty of partisan bickering about jobs versus our burning planet, the more interesting issue question is how states will meet the carbon mandates given the flexibility in the EPA draft regulations.

In most states, energy efficiency will be the cheapest method to reduce carbon emissions. But these EPA rules should be a catalyst to dramatically scale energy efficiency via #OpenEnergyMarkets. 

Our friends at EnergySavvy made some great points in a blog post yesterday:

Even though the U.S. is on a positive energy efficiency trend – annualized electricity savings are up 82% in 5 years and utility programs saved 126 Terawatt hours in 2012 – the rate of spending has outstripped savings. Spending was up 155% over the same period to $6.9B in 2012.

This spending is almost 100% government and utility run “programs” that involve a considerable amount of planning, bureaucracy and inefficiency. To scale energy efficiency, therefore, the paradigm of command-and-control energy efficiency “programs” must end, and “program administrators” need to transition to “market administrators”. 

This starts with #OpenEnergyData, but also requires #OpenEnergyMarkets, which can be generally defined as the ability for third parties to get paid for generating verified energy savings.

These markets exist in a fairly robust manner in the Commercial & Industrial demand response space, with companies like EnerNoc managing load reductions for large manufacturing plants and businesses, getting paid by Independent System Operators like PJM that are in charge of managing the grid. 

In the residential sector, there are a few models of how #OpenEnergyMarkets can be created and structured. Perhaps the most advanced market is the California ISO, which has created rules enabling third parties to monetize peak demand reductions from residential homes. So far the most innovative company taking advantage of this market is Ohmconnect, which frames their business model this way:

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But while the CAISO market is a great model for residential peak demand reductions, it does not yet cover energy efficiency, or the reduction of energy regardless of time.  

The CT Class III REC market provides one example of an energy efficiency market in action. In this market, third parties can apply to the CT Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA) to get a project certified, and eligible to sell credits to electricity suppliers that are required to buy these RECs. Unfortunately, it is difficult for residential projects not run by the utility companies to qualify, as only 4/35 approved projects are residential, and those are all for lighting.

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Connecticut’s challenge is an ad-hoc process for measurement & verification (M&V), which puts pressure on the regulators to only approve things that have already been approved in previous processes. This makes things easier for regulators, but much harder for innovative companies trying to create new models for saving energy.

Illinois, on the other hand, represents perhaps the most mature energy efficiency market in the country today. Despite relatively low energy prices, Illinois enables third parties to bid energy efficiency programs to the Illinois Power Agency (IPA), which much be accepted as long as they are cost-effective. This simple, but powerful rule was embedded in Illinois’ 2011 smart grid bill to mandate that the IPA procure:

Cost-effective energy efficiency programs or measures that are incremental to those included in energy efficiency and demand response plans

There are now more third-party programs than utility-administered programs for ComEd, the biggest electric utility in the state. 

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This third-party program structure can eventually turn into #OpenEnergyMarkets if policymakers, regulators and utilities can design transparent protocols for measuring savings that meet the standard the EPA has set:

quantifiable, non-duplicative, permanent, verifiable, & enforceable

To reach this standard will require a thoughtful process that leverages the market templates that exist today, a commitment to #OpenEnergyData, and the adoption of a “market creation” mentality that rewards a new generation of companies dedicated to saving energy. 

Real environmentalists guarantee home efficiency savings (kidding…kind of)

Here at Sealed we have chosen to address the home energy efficiency sector by guaranteeing savings. There are a lot of reasons for working to reduce homes’ energy bills, including feeling good about lowering homeowner costs and creating local, green collar jobs.

But on Earth Day, of course, we focus on how Sealed can help the environment by reducing the amount of fossil fuels we need to burn.

As we think about it, Sealed is addressing the single largest carbon reduction opportunity (energy efficiency), the largest market within that opportunity (single-family homes), and the single largest barrier to scaling that market (confidence in energy savings). 

Energy efficiency as a whole represents the single largest carbon reduction opportunity. Based on the most recent McKinsey study, technical energy efficiency represents a 14 gigaton carbon dioxide reduction per year (i.e., a lot). 

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This represents the single biggest “wedge” to meeting our global carbon reduction goals. The best part of this is that energy efficiency has by far the largest “negative cost,” which means that you actually make money by deploying capital to make buildings more energy efficient.

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We can also look at the change in investment of energy efficiency compared to the extraction of fossil fuels in the next twenty years. Based on the latest IPCC report (the international organization that organizes all of the climate science), capital going into energy efficiency is going to jump tremendously, while capital in fossil fuel extraction will plummet.

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In the United States, it is even more dramatic, with energy efficiency representing over 50% of 2030 carbon reduction potential.

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Within the energy efficiency sector, single family homes represent about 50% of the total US energy savings potential.

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And as readers of this blog know all too well, confidence in energy savings is the single biggest value for energy efficiency that single-family homeowners want.

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So that’s why we think Sealed can make a big impact, and one reason why we are all excited to go to work every morning (also the free coffee – thanks WeWork!). 

We know we don’t have all of the answers, and we certainly know that there are many other pieces of the puzzle, but we are doing our best to help keep our planet safe (and cool).