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Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

Efficiency Vermont’s EEN Contractor Spotlight:

Kramer Services of South Londonderry, VT

Interview with Stephen Kramer, Master Plumer and President

Green Energy Times staff

How did you get started in this industry and your company? What is your area of expertise? I have been in business since 2004. We service and install equipment in VT from Manchester to Stratton, Mount Snow, and Ludlow. In 1987 when I was a kid, my mother and father built a house. I helped install a heating and central vacuum system. While I was installing the pipes and making the connections, it was then that I knew I wanted to be a plumber. I was intrigued with making the connections and figuring out the operation of the system. It was at that point that I knew I wanted to be in this business. In my junior year of high school, I went to a vocational school in the afternoons and was a master plumber by 1998 at 24 years old.

Kramer Service’s area of expertise is home comfort. We specialize in geothermal heating and cooling, installation of energy saving products, high- efficient heating systems, radiant heat, and ultra-efficient cooling systems. We re-fit large commercial buildings in order to make them more efficient and save on their fuel costs. We [have] served over 1000 customers.

What projects do people try to do themselves that should be done professionally? Water heaters and kitchen faucet replacements. It typically ends up with a phone call stating, “We have no water and there are guests arriving soon.” If not done safely or properly, a water heater replacement could seriously hurt someone by being scalded, poisoned by carbon monoxide, or worse.

If you could only choose one type of project to reduce someone’s carbon footprint or improve efficiency, what would it be? Air source heat pumps, either a mini-split or a water heater. Both are great ways to reduce the use of fossil fuels and lower one’s carbon footprint. They offer a low price point for the homeowner, use latent energy from the mechanical room or the outside air, do not create a huge dent in your electric bill and will make you feel good about yourself, as you lowered your personal footprint.

Can you share one job project that really stands out as moving from inefficiency to efficiency? We worked on a great project at Riley Rink at Hunter Park in Manchester Center, VT. The project reduce[d] the fuel consumption from 23,000 gallons of propane per year to 2500 gallons! The three- year project included a large solar array, multiple air-source heat pumps, air-source water heaters, and a mechanism called a “vortex.” The vortex floods the ice sheet with cold water reducing the run time of the compressors and eliminating the need for another water heater, as hot water was used for every ice-make. This is a story I want every ice rink in America to hear! It is amazing, and we have the numbers to prove it.

What is it in your field of specialty that is most valuable (related to energy efficiency)? Experience! We specialize in the best energy-efficient products on the market. When we arrive to a project, we look at the entire picture, from the thermal envelope, to the homeowner’s lifestyle, even what their next 10–20-year plan is. From there we offer a design or piece of equipment that is right for that particular client. We are always training on the products we install, and we have the resources from the local supply house and the manufacturer to design a system that is right for the client.

Why should people use an EEN member over someone else? With the support and training that Efficiency Vermont and the EEN network offer, there is no reason not to use the network. If I have a question or situation that needs another opinion, I can call fellow certified members. They can give a suggestion. Also, there are amazing rebates that you can only get if you use an EEN member. Material and products are not cheap. Using a resource like the EEN will help you save money, lower your carbon footprint, and have the proper equipment installed properly. This is a win-win situation for everyone.

What are the best ways to finance projects for residential or commercial projects? Efficiency Vermont offers loans through VSECU. Your local bank can also help. Plus, Efficiency Vermont is always offering discounts with point of sale or mail-in rebates. These rebates are for many items such as thermostats, heating and cooling equipment, kitchen appliances, and windows. Your local utility company may also offer incentives.

What are some questions you recommend customers ask when selecting someone to do work to meet energy-efficiency goals? My suggestion is to ask for referrals of previous projects, ask if the staff has proper training to install the equipment, and if they service the equipment they install. Ask, “Why did you choose this product or design?” You need to understand the logic and value of the products being installed, before you can make a clear decision of the investment you are planning to implement. Energy-saving upgrades can have high upfront costs, but the return on investment outweighs the overall installation cost.

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