Month: April 2017

Oxo Good Grip Utensils – Outstanding Kitchen Tools

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Don’t neglect the kitchen when designing a house. You’ll spend a lot of time there – a poorly designed kitchen will ruin an otherwise perfect house. People all over the world know the importance of a well-designed kitchen and spend a lot of time and care on it. Kitchens built today are equipped with the latest technological and stylish high-end appliances.

In today’s world you don’t have to use heavy, ugly kitchen utensils. You can choose from stylish, chic tools. You can find ads in any magazine or newspaper that offer the benefits of new ‘scientifically designed kitchen utensils.’ It is hard for the average consumer to decide which utensils are the best.

A quick trip inside any store will show you the hundreds of kitchen appliances and tools available. Characteristics of a quality piece of kitchen gear include water resistance, heat resistance, and resistance to cooking oils. Utensils with some type of non-stick surface are definitely better than ones without. Resistance to high heat is especially important now, so you make sure you only buy gadgets that will survive trips through your dishwasher.

If these factors are considered, then “oxo good grip utensils” are way better than the normal kitchen utensils. There are no problems in handling them, as they have rubberized grips. “oxo good grip utensils” have all the features that a modern day kitchen needs, to make the process of cooking an easy task.

Kitchen utensils must be flexible and strong. They must not break easily. Durability is an important factor to be taken into consideration while purchasing kitchen utensils. Of course, you can find many other brands of kitchen utensils today. But when it comes to superior handling and design, “oxo good grip utensils” win hands down.

You have your choice of attractive and durable specialty items, such as angled measuring cups, can openers, fat separators, and even cutting boards that fold up for compact storage. The entire line of Oxo good grip utensils feature modern designs and top-notch usability. Try hopping online and doing a search for “practical cookware” to find hundreds of retailers that sell high end kitchen tools.

Outdoor Cedar Furniture

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Anyone looking for quality furniture for outdoor spaces will be hard pushed to beat the versatility of outdoor cedar furniture. There really is little else that can compare. It has so many benefits over other wooden furniture it is hard to know where to begin.

Let’s see why cedar furniture is so popular and such a good choice.

Firstly although it has eighty percent of the strength of oak it is nowhere near as heavy. The inherent properties of cedar make it fairly light which makes it easier to manoeuvre around the garden. Cedar is also a wise choice if you live in a damp environment. It strongly repels moisture which means it will not lose it shape or rot in damp conditions.

Add to this the anti-fungal properties and the fact that it repels insects such as mosquitoes and you can see why it is the choice of many living areas where such things are a problem.

One of the beauties of cedar is white cedar. It can be left in its natural state and will do nothing but age gracefully. It turns a fabulous silver grey color making it in total harmony with nature after a few years. It is a perfect choice for anyone wanting to have a fairly natural look their garden furniture.

If you are unsure about what type of wooden furniture to choose for your outdoor dining or seating spaces then cedar is a great choice. It is so versatile, strong, and it is also surprisingly affordable. If you want furniture that lasts then choose outdoor cedar furniture.

For outdoor cedar furniture please see the cedar outdoor furniture shop. There you will find all manner of furniture including cedar patio dining sets.

What is the difference between a conservatory and a Loggia

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To provide a fair comparison between conservatories and Loggia Conservatories, it is worth looking at what defines each type of extension. /p>

A conservatory is best defined as a property extension with glass walls and roof, available in many different styles and glazing options and usually supported by dwarf walls. It was originally used to grow and protect citrus fruit trees during the winter months in the 16th century and was gradually developed over the proceeding centuries from a greenhouse to the modern variety we know today.

A loggia on the other hand is a property extension with glass walls and a glass roof, occasionally supported on dwarf walls, but with specially designed pillars set at regular intervals around the structure that provide a greater degree of structural integrity, greater thermal efficiency and a more aesthetically pleasing overall finish, both inside and outside the structure. In fact, the name “Loggia” is derived from a roofed gallery or recessed room open at one side and supported by ornate columns that was developed by Filippo Bruneschi during the Italian Renaissance period.

So the key difference between the two is the use of specially engineered columns that replace the need for awkward to build brick piers, greatly reducing build times, and are far more thermally efficient than using standard UPVC frames. These pillars even make the Loggia up to four times stiffer than a regular conservatory, which greatly reduces the “racking” effect of wind that could lead to cracking and other signs of distress.

Add to this the ease of internal plastering and you gain the solid, more luxurious feeling of a true extension with the low cost implications, permitted development rights removing the need for planning applications and all the extra natural light associated with modern conservatories. In fact, the Loggia even removes the need for building regulations, so the build itself can occur much faster without have to wait for approval from local authorities.

How much does it cost to remodel a new kitchen

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Kitchen renovations can cost you varying from $2,000 to $3,000 for a cosmetic renovation without any new cabinets, plumbing or electrical changes. Expect to spend at the least $10,000 when you choose brand new low-end cabinetry, counters, appliances, flooring, paint, and a few minimal structural alterations. However, the skys the limit in terms of a whole new kitchen’s and you will probably pay $10,000 or more for prime quality pantry shelves, custom work and many upgrades.

Always keeping costs down You will find ways to cut costs when modernizing your kitchen without having to sacrifice quality. Regardless of what you do budget, do not skimp on design, kitchen appliances, or labor. These are the actual basis for a practical cooking area and you should get the best you can afford. And keep expenses to a minimum, use stock cupboards instead of customized work, laminates instead of solids, and hang on your present home equipment, if you can. Also try to keep your existing plumbing and electrical and dont make architectural modifications to the space. Planning ahead in detail will also help you save money. Any adjustments or modifications midway throughout the process will be expensive. Resurface or repaint old cupboards Paint is relatively cheap that will transform wooden cabinets in a matter of hrs. Try a fresh painting method, or a textured look, or a zesty mixture of colours. You can also re-establish older cupboards with wood laminate floors, or one of the fresh, non-traditional plastic-based materials that resist cracking, denting and yellowing. Formica countertops, for example, provide the appear and feel of expensive good surfacing at about half the price.

Utilize more glass Replace several cabinets along with glass ones. Glass and mirrors in a room add the illusion of more space, as well as glamour in particular when you add interior lights to your new cupboards.

Improve your hardware Simply adding new cabinet and drawer handles can modify the perception of a kitchen! Using the many options in colour, size and form of drawer knobs and handles, theres no limit to what you can achieve.

Floor and wall facelifts Paint, wallpaper and flooring in a number of textures, styles, colours and patterns can easily spice up a bland kitchen. Stencil a border around a window, below a ceiling, or between the cupboards plus the counters and you’ll alter the mood overnight.

Be innovative The best kitchen should not only look fantastic, but endure daily wear and tear. It should function well and enable people to maneuver freely between it and related areas of the house.

If you are planning to completely remodel the kitchen, be honest about your ability. You might want to leave this important job in the hands of an expert who can do the work quickly and professionally. A kitchen designer/contractor can suggest unique ideas and construct creative ways of particular problems. Finally, make sure you get at least two bids for the work you plan to do and compare these carefully.

How To Switch Suppliers Without Triggering An Exit Fee

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UK residents have many choices when it comes to energy suppliers, but that doesnt mean that switching is always easy. Even when a new deal crops up that is better than another, a customer has to worry about exit fees. These can include fees also called cancellation and termination fees. These fees are assessed whenever a buyer tries to opt out of a previous energy contract before the actual period of service is over. They can range from as little as 5 to up to 50 per fuel type. Due to the simplification of the UK tariff structure, you may find yourself suddenly signed up to a more expensive tariff once your old tariff is no longer available. This automatic enrolment can also oblige you to pay an exit fee if you want to switch after the period for enrolment is over. Its the wise consumer that keeps an eye out for fees and asks about them before switching, even when the switch was not of their own doing.

Fixed rate plans

Fixed rate agreements usually carry early termination fees, and they tend to be more expensive than other plans. This can make it difficult to switch from one type of plan to another, as the fee will offset any savings in cost. Even if you have a change of heart in the middle of the winter season, you might find youre stuck with your deal, unless the utility will allow you to switch without a fee. If you have a fixed tariff, you will need to see what types of fees are associated with terminating the account before you actually decide to make that decision. You may find that you can still switch, even if it costs you, or that the company will waive the fee as long as you remain with them and not some other utility. The costs to terminate a fixed rate plan also depend on how far along you are in it.

Sometimes, you get lucky

If your energy supplier has to change the tariff rate, they must give you 30 days to decide whether you want to keep the tariff or not. If you choose not to keep it during this time, no termination fees apply. The reason for this is that the company has changed the terms of the contract making the previous contract null and void. Thus, the termination fees associated with the contract also do not apply. However, this is a special case and isnt bound to happen much. It might happen with a fixed rate if the supplier thinks theyre going to lose money by selling you their gas at a lesser price than the market can withstand. However, most fixed tariffs have excess leeway built into the price structure, so this might not ever happen to any of your tariffs. Instead, you might have to wait for the contract to be officially over.

Another option for switching

If you simply wait for the contract period to be over, you will also be given 30 days to make a switch without termination fees. Of course, by that time the heating season will be over and you probably wont know what next winter will be like either. The time period is limited and if you miss notifying your supplier of how you want to switch, you can lose the opportunity to do so without incurring an exit fee. Keep an eye on your contract terms to determine when you can switch without penalty.

When your previous tariff is dropped

You will also get the opportunity to switch when your previous tariff is dropped and becomes unavailable. Companies that are simplifying their fee structures will send out a letter advising you that you need to change your tariff or they will do it for you. Some will put you on their standard plan and others will pick a more expensive plan. Whatever it happens to be, it will also come with termination fees. If you want to be in control of switching, you have got to abide by the time limit set for making those choices. Otherwise, once the other tariff is in place (whether you agreed to it or not), you wont be able to make another switch without triggering exit fees.

Bipartisan Energy Efficiency Bill On Verge Of Senate Breakthrough

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While many in Washington still warn about the dangers of carbon emissions and climate change, the reality and perhaps the one thing that experts on both sides agree on, is that Americans are paying less attention to global warming than they have in the past. To end this uncertainty, the Senate after months of behind the scenes maneuvering will begin the debate on the critically important legislation which could help American consumers, businesses and the federal government to save millions of dollars each year by using less energy, and using less energy will be a step forward in the fight against climate change in the U.S.
The new energy efficiency legislation introduced by Senators Shaheen and Portman could come up before the U.S. Senate for approval. The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, also known as Shaheen-Portman Bill will help to reduce the energy bill of U.S., improve its economic competitiveness, create new American jobs and enhance U.S. energy security. The bill has been endorsed by more than 200 businesses, trade associations and advocacy groups.
What is the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act?
The Shaheen-Portman Energy Efficiency Bill passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee by a 19-3 vote, it includes provisions that will directly improve energy efficiency in buildings, industrial processes and federal agencies, the provisions in the bill include strengthening energy efficiency requirements in building energy codes, incentivizing energy efficiency using rebates and for certain equipment, encouraging energy efficiency supply chains through a new supply star program.
The American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) found implementation of the bill would save about 9.5 quadrillion btus (british thermal units) between 2014 and 2030, or nearly one tenth of the annual energy use in the U.S. As the second largest consumer of energy in the world and the worlds biggest economy it is critically important for the United States to improve energy efficiency, the bill has received bipartisan support with seven Republicans and twelve Democrats in favor of the bill. It contains a variety of policies and programs to reduce residential, commercial and industrial energy use and focusing on sectors and areas with energy savings potential such as the residential, commercial and industrial sectors, the bill also restricts inefficient energy practices that will cost the U.S. economy billions of dollars and millions of jobs every year. One of the components of the bill also requires the Federal Government- which is the largest user of energy adopt energy saving techniques and best practices to operate efficiently.
Commenting on the bill Senator Portman said Washington can seem pretty divided these days, but there are some things on which we all can agree. This bill is one of them it is good for the economy and good for the environment. By making it easier for employers to use energy efficient tools, we are helping them to reduce their costs, enabling them to put those savings towards expanding their companies and hiring new workers.
The bill has received positive feedback and widespread support, the only constraint halting the success of the bill are the amendments lawmakers are trying to attach to it. The successful passing of this bill will not only help in mitigating climate change in the U.S. and reduce carbon emissions but also be a trendsetter for other countries to follow suit.

Lessons Learned From A Failed Energy Efficiency Project

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You would think that energy efficiency is relatively simple: perform an energy audit, install the retrofits and then reap the energy savings. Unfortunately, it doesn”t always work that way. We performed an energy assessment of several stores of a major retail chain in the San Francisco Bay Area and identified a handful of low-cost retro-commissioning measures that had very promising potential. We quantified the expected savings and costs and returned after the project was installed. We then measured the savings using various methods and found either minimal or negative savings. The problem we discovered was that on nearly every measure, the contractors had repaired the hardware, but through various means had ensured that energy savings would not occur. This paper provides an account of the failed project at one store and the steps we took to remedy it. Specifically, this paper stresses the importance of Measurement and Verification and Commissioning of the retrofits.

The store, located in San Francisco, belongs to a well-known national retailer, whose name we will not divulge. The store is an aggregate of 3 buildings which have been joined together to comprise almost 1,000,000 square feet, of which over half is selling floor. Stock rooms and offices comprise the remainder of the space. The different buildings range between 8 and 11 stories tall.

The three buildings comprising the store were built at different times from the 1920s to the 1980s. Originally the buildings had different air handling, chilled water and hot water systems. Over the years, through energy conservation and facility improvement measures, the chilled water systems have been merged into one system.

There were no operating boilers in the store. Steam is provided to the store by an external vendor. Hot water is supplied to multi-zone air handling units and perimeter reheats in some areas of the store via heat exchangers.
There is one common cooling plant which houses two 500 ton centrifugal chillers (2004) which run all year. Chilled water is supplied to the Air Handling Units (AHUs) via primary/secondary chilled water loops. During the hottest months, both chillers run at around 90% full load””this happens about 5 days/yr. During the cooler months, one chiller runs at about 40% full load. If you have been to San Francisco you probably know that even in summer a typical day only reaches about 60 degrees . A properly designed and operating building in San Francisco should not need mechanical cooling most of the year, instead relying upon outside air to meet its cooling needs. This was obviously not the case .

A utility bill analysis identified an out of control building. Figure 1 presents twelve months of average usage per day versus average outdoor temperature. Each point represents a billing period. The superimposed red line represents the statistically insignificant trend. The lack of clear trend indicates that the building is either haphazardly controlled or that energy use varies due to some other variable. We believe mostly the former. During warmer periods (which are not that warm) the store uses more energy, indicating a variable cooling load based upon weather conditions. (An ideal system that uses outside air whenever possible should show a horizontal trend in this 48 to 66 degree temperature range.)

There are over fifty AHUs: a mixture of single zone, multi-zone, and variable air volume units. Each of the three sections contains different types of AHUs.
Electricity Costs for the store were over $2.5M per year. With the economic collapse in the fall of 2008, smart retailers were looking to cut costs wherever possible. One line item that could be cut was utilities. Saving 10% or more could add at least $250,000 to the bottom line.

There may be several reasons why California uses less than 50% per capita of the energy than the rest of the country, but one major reason is the aggressive effort of the California Public Utilities Commission to cut energy usage. Commercial ratepayers of the investor owned utilities pay a fee in their utility bills that funds energy efficiency programs. These funds are then channeled to the investor owned utilities to promote energy efficiency. These utilities have over one hundred targeted programs aimed at different vertical markets such as: wineries, retail, hospitals, supermarkets, etc. Often these programs will include free energy audits or retro-commissioning services in conjunction with generous incentives to implement energy efficiency measures. In some cases, the utilities will pay for up to 100% of the cost for implementing the measures. The utilities administer some programs directly and outsource others. The outsourced programs are designed and administered by third party energy consultants.

Quantum Energy Services & Technologies, Inc. (QuEST), an energy consulting firm headquartered in Berkeley, administers a retail program for PG&E which covers the San Francisco Bay Area. This program offers retailers free retro-commissioning studies along with incentives to implement energy conservation measures found. The utilities give incentives to the building owners based upon the amount of energy saved. But in order for energy savings to be recognized by PG&E, these savings need to be measured and verified and then the savings calculations must pass a review by third party reviewers. Nobody gets paid if the work does not pass the third party review. The third party review process is necessary to prevent false claims of savings, or gaming of the system. The reviewers can be tough and require all assumptions to be documented and based upon published standards or guidelines. The drawback of third party review is that some measures are dropped as the Measurement and Verification (M&V) costs would be prohibitively expensive.

QuEST retained our company as a subcontractor to help out with the retail program. Our company performed Retro-Commissioning (RCx) services on 8 stores belonging to this unnamed retailer, and this paper is about one of the stores. However, the same story occurred at most of the stores. It wasn”t one failure, but many.

RCx is different from energy auditing in that RCx typically involves a more detailed study of the building”s control systems and HVAC systems than energy audits. In addition, RCx typically focuses on repairing, recalibrating and reprogramming, rather than procuring new equipment. Simple paybacks for RCx projects typically are under 2 years. Examples of RCx measures are: repairing inoperable equipment, programming controls, demand control ventilation, and calibrating temperature sensors. Examples of energy audit measures (which are not considered RCx measures) are: installing energy efficient chillers, boilers or package units, converting single zone HVAC systems to variable air volume systems, and installing EMS systems. Energy audit measures often are more expensive and may have longer paybacks. On the other hand, true RCx studies are much more detailed, and thus much more expensive to conduct than energy audits. RCx studies usually involve data logging, functional testing of controls, operator training and post implementation commissioning which repeats much of the data logging and functional testing that was previously done. RCx is criticized by some as too heavy on the analysis, as it can require hundreds of hours of work just to perform the study, whereas energy audits consume much less labor.

In order to make the most efficient use of ratepayer dollars, in QuEST”s RCx program the amount of engineering time was scaled down to minimize the time spent on work that does not directly lead to energy savings. Rather than write commissioning plans, and 100-page Master List of Findings reports, the interim deliverable is instead an Excel workbook that describes the measure, states all assumptions and measured values, and calculates the savings. Equipment is data-logged or trended before and after the implementation of the measures. Calculations are made in Excel so they can be verified by third party reviewers. Written reports come later, but are less extensive than typical RCx reports.

Two engineers spent 3 days onsite examining the store”s mechanical systems, uncovering problems, and identifying RCx Measures. Our work to this point was nearly identical to an energy audit.
Once the RCx Measures were identified, the list of RCx Measures was given to the customer who then decided which of them should be pursued. The list also was approved by the third party reviewer.

We found the store could save about $300,000 in both RCx and Retrofit Measures, which, with incentives offered a simple payback of less than six months. That is 12% of their energy spend. The following measure types were identified and approved by all parties:

Retrofit Measures
1.Install Variable Speed Drives (VSDs) on Multi-Zone Air Handling Units (AHUs).
2.Installation of VSDs on secondary chilled water loops.
RCx Measures
1.Repair economizer control on some air handlers. Many outside air dampers were rusted in place. A two by six was used to prop one open.
2.Repair a small number of faulty VSDs, some of which were in bypass running at 100% fan speed.
3.Reconnect static pressure lines. Some VSDs were running at full speed because the lines running to the static pressure sensors in the ducting had been previously destroyed by contractors.
4.Repair/Replace stuck chilled water valves. These valves were cooling whether the AHUs called for cooling or not. As a result, sales floor temperatures ranged from 62 degrees to 70 degrees.
5.Connect some AHUs to the Energy Management System. These AHUs were running wild and had no control at all.

Once the measures were selected by the customer, QuEST engineers placed data loggers to measure pre-implementation temperatures and power. Temperatures measured included Outside Air Temperature (OAT), Return Air Temperature (RAT), Mixed Air Temperature (MAT) and Supply Air Temperature (SAT). Fan Motor kW were also logged for those units on VSDs. Spot measurements were taken of Fan Motor kW for AHUs that were not on VSDs.

Energy savings were estimated using bin data simulations. Like-type AHUs were combined. Special care was taken in calculating energy savings to ensure that savings were not double-counted. Each energy conservation measure was modeled assuming the prior measures were already implemented. We integrated the interval data that we collected into the bin data simulations. To do this, we created regressions of our variables (RAT, MAT, SAT, kW) versus OAT. These regressions were used to project RATs, MATs, SATs and kW for other outdoor air temperatures that were not included in our sample.

Once we had estimated savings using our bin simulation models and provided measure costs, the customer decided which measures to implement. They then hired contractors to implement the measures. VSDs were installed and repaired, economizer dampers repaired, AHUs connected to the EMS system, etc.

Once the implementation was completed, QuEST engineers returned to the site and again data logged the same temperatures and power as before. The resulting data, RATs, MATs, SATs and kWs, was again regressed against OAT. Using the regression, RATs, MATs, SATs, and kW values were again extrapolated and placed into the bin simulations.

The resulting calculations demonstrated the unthinkable. Not only were the energy conservation measures we had recommended not saving energy, the affected systems at the store were using more energy than before! Actually, this could be seen from just looking at the interval data. It was obvious that the economizers and variable speed drives were not working as intended. The “repaired” economizers were letting in less outside air than before, and the variable speed drives were still commanding the fans to run at a constant load, but at a higher speed than before.

QuEST alerted the customer that their investments were not saving energy. Facility personnel then investigated the problems, found them, and corrected them.

Even though the contractors had made the economizers operational (as opposed to frozen), the damper actuators were not calibrated correctly. When dampers needed to be fully open, they were not. When dampers needed to be at minimum position, they were not. The variable speed drives were also installed incorrectly. Some wiring and controls issues were resolved and the units started operating as expected. Once these issues were resolved, M&V was performed again. We repeated the data-logging and placed this information into our bin simulations, and again projected the annual savings.
There are many ways energy efficiency projects can go wrong.

“Faulty recommendations
“Poor implementation
“Untrained staff who compromise all the energy conservation measures undertaken

Faulty recommendations may arise from a lack of understanding of how systems operate or should operate. Years of experience, and a good understanding of physics and control theory is necessary to make sound recommendations.

Poor implementation has many causes, but often can be traced to the mindset that having the right equipment will make the difference. But as the lessons learned here illustrate, installing the right hardware is only half the solution. It needs to be integrated into the system and operate according to a logical and beneficial sequence of operations.

The last item is especially troublesome because it is so common. Even if the right hardware is installed and controls optimized, small changes to the sequence of operations made to “fix” local problems may have large consequences on overall system performance over time. Changing supply air temperatures at the air handler to resolve hot or cold complaints may upset the balance of the system and cause problems elsewhere. Professors at Texas A&M University have pointed out that in the absence of continuous monitoring, a building”s performance will fall to the level of the least-trained operator within two years.

There are a couple of ways to avoid projects that fail to produce savings. After equipment is installed, it needs to be commissioned by a third party, not the contractor who implemented the ECMs. Commissioning can be expensive, but it is worth it. However, just because the equipment has been deemed operational by the commissioning agent, that doesn”t mean it is saving what was expected. Commissioning will tell you if the equipment is working as it should. To determine if you are actually saving what was expected, M&V needs to be done on the building. Although M&V can appear as a waste of money to some, it caught this disaster before it was too late.

Unfortunately, building owners often value engineer commissioning and M&V out of their projects and leave themselves open to big disappointments in their energy efficiency projects. M&V is like insurance””sure, it costs money up front, but the reassurance of knowing the project is done correctly should be worth far more than the initial outlay. What other product would you purchase without verifying that you actually received what you paid for? Why should energy efficiency be any different?

Unfortunately, energy efficiency isn”t as simple as we would wish. Energy consultants may deliver quality energy audits and RCx studies, but merely implementing sound energy efficiency recommendations does not guarantee energy savings. The weak link is often in the commissioning of the measures to ensure they are doing what they are intended to do.
To avoid underperforming on your energy efficiency measures, we suggest the following three strategies:

1. Commission what you implement with third-party commissioning experts. Commissioning agents are not interested in selling hardware. They are interested in making systems operate at peak performance. They understand physics and control theory and can identify and repair problems quickly.

2. Track your energy savings using M&V. Even using something as simple as utility bill tracking software can provide some insight into building performance. An increase in monthly energy usage when a decrease was expected would have triggered an investigation into the cause. Verifying performance at the system level (as we did), while more difficult and expensive, would have isolated the problem much more quickly and accurately.

3. Provide proper training so that your facility staff doesn”t override or bypass your energy efficiency projects. Although we barely treated this topic in this paper, this is probably the single most effective step you can take. Your staff is the brains behind building operation, despite what EMS vendors may say. Having the smartest control system will do no good if it is operated by the dumbest operators.

Tips On Tenant Improvement Allowances

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Tenant improvement allowances, funds provided by the landlord to improve office space, are becoming increasingly prevalent during landlord-tenant negotiations, and all companies should consider their role in creating an ideal office space. However, companies seeking to lease at least 5,000 square feet of Class A & B office space with a lease term of at least five years can exercise much greater leverage on the landlord and will typically find it easier to achieve many of the suggestions below. If in doubt, you should consult with a real estate broker to determine the feasibility of any specific item.

1. In todays economic environment, many landlords are providing and funding 100 percent of the building standard installations required by tenants.

2. Tenants should try to negotiate above-standard items, such as millwork, extra HVAC, large glass walls, plush carpeting or special lighting, to get them included in the tenant improvement allowance provided by the landlord.

3. When landlords refuse to fund all or a portion of above-standard items, tenants can try to amortize their cost into the rent over the term of the lease instead of paying out of pocket.

4. Funding above-standard work can also be achieved via negotiating tactics, for example, offering to decrease the quantity of free rent and increase the tenant improvement allowance instead.

5. We recommend tenants hire an architect to represent their interests and suggest a layout and design of the space to ensure tenant improvement allowances are put to the best possible use.

6. Tenants can avoid the need for a large tenant improvement allowance by touring many suites and finding one with a suitable existing configuration. However, we advise tenants to avoid compromising the amount of their tenant improvement allowance just to decrease the rental rate.

7. Landlords are providing generous tenant improvement allowances for new tenants, and tenants can use this as leverage even if they are only renewing, especially if they have occupied the space for the past five-to-ten years.

8. If landlords offer a specific dollar amount for a tenant improvement allowance, we advise tenants to negotiate an open-bid format, based on an expert review by their own architect, project manager or construction firm.

9. Many companies are using tenant improvement allowances to create more light in the workplace by adding glass in offices and conference rooms. From narrow, vertical side-windows to full walls of glass, natural light illuminates interior areas and provides sight-lines for workers to improve communications and productivity.

10. We always recommend tenants hire an architect to brainstorm about the best uses for tenant improvement allowances. Many companies are decreasing hard-walled offices in favor of flexible workstations and huddle rooms, small two-to-four person conference areas, to accommodate departments changing needs.

Saving Money With Energy Efficiency

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A home should be an environment that is comfortable in both the hot, summer months and the frigid, cold temperatures of winter. However, heating and cooling your home so that it is comfortable during these extreme temperature periods can get to be quite expensive. If you aren’t careful, you can rack up a huge energy bill during the winter or summer months without even realizing it. Heating and cooling a home requires so much energy, so sometimes consumers can become devastated at the amount they pay at the end of the month.

However, there are ways to save money on heating and cooling your home. These ways often have a less harmful impact on the environment and a less harmful impact on your pocketbook. While these methods may require an initial investment to make them operational, the money you save over time in heating and cooling your home will be worth the initial investment.

Insulate Your Home

The first and easiest way to make heating and cooling your home more energy efficient is to ensure that air is not escaping from your home or seeping in from the outdoor environment. Poor insulation is often the number one culprit in homes that use energy inefficiently.

You can improve the insulation in your home by installing energy efficient windows that are double paned, or you can have the cracks and gaps sealed around the windows with insulating material. You can also add insulation to your attic and prevent warm air from seeping out through your roof. These small home improvement fixes can help you save a lot of money on your energy bill at the end of each month.

Geothermal Heating and Cooling

Another great way to make your home more energy efficient is to install a geothermal heating and cooling system in your home. Geothermal systems rely on the heat that is generated from the ground in order to make your home more comfortable.

The earth is a wealth of energy, but many consumers don’t know how to tap into the energy that is right below their feet. A geothermal heating and cooling system taps into the heat sources and uses them to power an HVAC system. This type of system is expensive initially, but it can save you thousands of dollars in the course of a lifetime.

Solar Heating and Cooling

Solar power is another great way to save money on your energy bills each month. The energy from the sun is completely free and is abundant almost all year round. If you live in an area of the world that does not have a lot of rainfall, solar heating and cooling systems may be perfect for your area.

A solar heating and cooling system uses huge solar panels to absorb the energy from the sun and convert that energy into a usable energy that can help to power an HVAC system. With the energy from the sun powering the heating and cooling system in your home, you won’t have to shell out so much money each month to an energy company.

Ac Buying Guide-energy Efficiency In Air Conditioning Units

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Air conditioners are some of the home appliances that homeowners need to keep their homes comfortable. However, they are also some of the home appliances that raise the energy bills in your home. Buying an energy efficient air conditioning unit is therefore necessary if you want to keep your energy bills at a manageable level and still keep your home cooled. The following is a short buying guide for buying an air conditioner.

First, decide whether a ducted air conditioning unit or a split wall hung air conditioner best suits your home. Ducted air conditioners best suit large houses with multiple rooms. Split systems are best suited for small rooms.

Second, start by looking at your home before going shopping. This will allow you decide what sizing of the air conditioner is required for your home. The sizing of the air conditioning unit doesnt mean its physical size. Rather, it means its capacity in British Thermal Units (BTU). To determine the air conditioner size you will need for your home, there are a number of features to look at. The most basic feature is the size of the rooms. In addition to this; look at the insulation in the rooms, window orientation, number of occupants in each room, artificial lighting and, appliances and furniture in the room among other features.

Third, look at additional components in each air conditioner and how useful they can be in making the air conditioning unit more energy efficient. For example, an air conditioner with a programmable thermostat will enable you set the unit to switch on and off at predetermined times. Most air conditioners with additional components will be on the high end. The best way to determine whether they are worth investing in or not is looking at what value they are adding in terms of reducing the energy consumption of the air conditioning unit.

Fourth, look for alternative air conditioners. Common air conditioners are plugged onto the electricity outlets in the house. Today, there are green air conditioners which are solar powered. These will enable you save on up to half the energy consumption in your home.

Fifth, look at the manufacturers warranties placed on the air conditioners. Like other electrical appliances, an air conditioning unit is prone to ear and tear. The warranty on the parts guarantees that the manufacturer will replace or repair worn out parts within the warranty period. Since the average air conditioner will last between 5 and 20 years, its best to look for an air conditioner with a longer warranty period to ensure that worn out and broken parts are replaced on time ensuring efficiency.

Finally, look at the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio value of the air conditioning unit. A higher value indicates that the air conditioning unit is energy efficient.