Residential

EE First: The Right Way to Get to Net Zero Energy

This year's Midwest Energy Solutions Conference (MES) incorporated interactive workshops into its agenda for the first time ever, and one of the three workshops focused on Net Zero Energy (NZE) in the Midwest. MEEA staff wanted attendees to consider what Net Zero Energy means for energy efficiency (EE) in the Midwest specifically. (For the purposes of the workshop, “NZE” was referring to any building, development or community that does not use more energy than it produces. See DOE’s NZE definitions).

IHP Wins ENERGYSTAR Partner of the Year

Author’s note: this article is best enjoyed with musical accompaniment.

March Madness is over, and Villanova isn’t the only one taking home a trophy. We’re proud to announce that Illinois Home Performance won the 2018 ENERGYSTAR® Partner of the Year Award! With the help of an all-star starting lineup, IHP delivered a victory for homeowners and energy efficiency.

Highlight Reel

IHP previously won back-to-back Partner of the Year Awards in 2014 and 2015, followed up with an ENERGYSTAR Excellence in Promotion Award in 2017. How’s that for a dynasty?

New Series: Energy Efficiency Tipping Points

To most outsiders, the world of energy efficiency probably appears static with slow, incremental changes. A furnace rebate here, light bulb swap-out there, maybe an updated building energy code every few years. But it should come as no surprise to industry insiders that this isn’t the case at all. An explosion of new technology across every part of our economy is rapidly changing our energy savings goals and the ways we identify and capture those savings.

The Birth and Evolution of a Successful EE Program

In September, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy completed a case study profiling MEEA’s HVAC Savings Adjustment and Verified Efficiency (HVAC SAVE) program, which tells the story of how MEEA partnered with utilities in Iowa to launch a HVAC quality installation and quality maintenance program that has resulted in over 100,000 jobs and substantial energy savings.

Supporting the Energy Efficiency Workforce

October 16-20 is “Careers in Energy Week” for the state of Illinois. Governor Rauner has recognized that a strong and diverse energy workforce is critical to support the large demand for safe, reliable and affordable energy to support Illinois families, communities and businesses. Energy efficiency is a key component to ensure affordability and reliability for years to come.

Excuse Me, Where are the Smart Devices Located?

One August afternoon, a few MEEAites embarked on a recon mission to gather data on smart devices in two major retailers of home appliances. Sadly, the budget didn’t approve our request for black turtlenecks and spy gear, so we had to make do with business casual.

Our goal was to get a general idea of what type of technology comes with today’s appliances that are commonly available to the public. As MEEA sets out to not only understand, but also influence on the world of intelligent efficiency, we have recently found ourselves arriving at the same question that starts at the consumer: What do customers experience today when buying new home appliances?

How Do We Increase Multifamily Energy Efficiency? With Good Data

If you are like me (or 14.8% of Midwesterners), you live in multifamily housing. And if you’ve ever been a multifamily tenant, then you know it can be harder to get improvements and renovations done than if you live in a single-family home. Dealing with landlords, management companies and condo associations can slow down decision-making, and it’s often unclear what you, as a resident, can or can't do to modify your home.

Setting the PACE in the Midwest

Property assessed clean energy (PACE) financing is off and running in the Midwest. PACE enables homeowners and commercial building owners to finance energy efficiency improvements through a special assessment on their property that is paid back through their tax bill. To date, there are 15 active PACE programs in the MEEA footprint. PACE-enabling legislation exists in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Missouri, Kentucky, Ohio and Nebraska, and legislation in Illinois has passed both state legislative houses and is awaiting the governor’s signature.

NextGrid: The Utility of the Future Starts Now

On March 22, 2017, the Illinois Commerce Commission passed a resolution initiating the NextGrid Utility of the Future Study. NextGrid will be an 18-month collaborative process to explore the ways in which alternative utility regulatory models, advances in technology, and consumer preferences and engagement can shape the grid of the future. This initiative will build upon the 2011 Energy Infrastructure Modernization Act, the Illinois Statewide Smart Grid Collaborative and the recent Future Energy Jobs Act.

This Home is a Total Zero (Good!)

There are many paths to building a highly energy efficient new home, including Passivehaus, Living Building Challenge and the soon-to-be-released ASHRAE 90.2 standard. Policies designed to save energy are also driving up demand for efficient housing. California, for example, will soon require that all new homes be zero net energy.

Given increasing interest for such innovative homes, it’s not hard to imagine a future in which people across the country are able to just pick their favorite energy efficient home from a subdivision full of zero net energy (ZNE) homes.