Interview with Bill Chidsey, Clean Energy Navigator
Green Energy Times Staff
1. What is your area of expertise?
The interesting thing about buildings in Vermont is that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. I recommend taking the time to look at a home holistically. At an appointment, I usually spend a whole day analyzing my client’s entire energy consumption. I merge several areas of expertise: directly measured BPI analysis, blower door cfm 50, CAZ safety standards, inch-by-inch HVAC / ACCA heat loss calculations, building science, and decades of practical construction experience. I create an integrated, clear path towards their unique clean-energy future, creating a specific cost-benefit action plan. We then center our focus on tangible opportunities while acknowledging existing safety hazards, pollution and fuel waste challenges in a non-judgmental manner. I also have a unique hands-on insight into how fossil fuels are used. I’ve worked on thousands of dirty fuel guzzlers since the mid 1960’s.
2. What projects do people try to do themselves that really should be done professionally?
Energy consumption accounting is time-consuming and very tedious. Learning the numerous energy units, calculations, and terminology can feel overwhelming. Too often this most important first step is by-passed for a quick, satisfying purchase. Every clean energy action has a specific cost and benefit. Knowledge first provides confidence, clarity, and getting it right the first time. Hire a professional who can produce a no-nonsense, practical plan. There are likely several DIY projects that fit perfectly helping a homeowner save installation costs.
3. If you could only choose one type of project to reduce your carbon footprint, what would it be and why?
I would pick device level data logging and comfort temperature control with weekly data reviews. My favorite example: We reduced fuel oil consumption 35% at a community center. This nonprofit saved $1050.00 the first heating season by choosing to install an Ecobee 3 smart thermostat costing $158.20. At the time, this thermostat qualified for a $150 Efficiency Vermont rebate. The net cost was $8.20 for materials plus $300 for installation. This resulted in an annual fuel oil consumption saving of 300 gallons. The thermostat purchase includes a free web portal to monitor, control, and data log the building’s fuel oil consumption. There is no additional cost or annual fee for their portal. This project provides verifiable information that identifies where and when energy is being wasted.
4. What is it in your field of specialty that is most valuable (related to energy efficiency) that our readers ought to know about?
My familiarity with design-built, balanced, whole-house heat recovery ventilation integrated with central air ducted cold climate heat pump systems provides exceptional indoor air quality and value. Air to Water heat pump installations fit perfectly with high performance homes. My business is growing not in volume, but in depth. Leadership. I’m ready to add an educational component for the next generation. I want to reach out to engage young people. Beginning with 4-H / UVM Extension and Randolph Technical High School. I believe we need a qualified “energy master” embedded in every neighborhood and every farm.
5. Why should people use an Efficiency Excellence Network (EEN) contractor over another contractor?
I like that Efficiency Vermont has the Efficiency Excellence Network, that there’s a bar to meet, where people are well vetted. Being part of the Efficiency Excellence Network means that I have access to educational opportunities that others in my field don’t have, and exposure to how leaders in my field are tackling these big issues.
6. What are the best ways to finance projects (or what incentives are available) for residential or commercial projects?
Simply open the Efficiency Vermont website. The financing, services and rebates menu are found at the top. Call customer service at 888-921-5990 or any EEN member for a friendly referral. My customers usually qualify for $2000 to $8000 rebates and 100% project financing.
7. What are some questions you recommend customers ask when selecting someone to do work to meet energy efficiency goals?
Request a written work scope and itemized materials and installation budget. Discuss how you can be available to communicate daily during the project. Contractors need to know communication is welcome, easy and OK to stay current with challenges and accomplishments.
Schedule and make time for hands-on system training during commissioning. Review and document life safety and control settings. Schedule a follow-up site visit within the first four weeks. Schedule and post annual and seasonal preventive maintenance appointments. Keep all system documentation in a binder handy for reference.
Celebrate your Clean Energy Future with friends, neighbors, and Energy Committee members.