August 2013

Energy audits boast a multitude of benefits: in addition to providing a roadmap for greater energy efficiency, they help you understand how your house works.

An energy audit is a fundamental first step toward reducing utility bills in a big way. By analyzing a building’s major components including the building envelope, combustion equipment, chimneys, attics, crawlspaces and more, as well as the interrelationship of these various components, a comprehensive energy audit provides a big picture overview of how a building works.

This is effective for reducing utility bills, because sources or air leakage and heat transmission are located with precision so they can be eradicated cost-effectively.

But this isn’t the only benefit of a comprehensive energy audit. Additionally, an audit puts your home, residential property or commercial property, or business on the path to:

Greater Comfort.

Energy efficiency and comfort go hand in hand. Improving your building envelope by air sealing and increasing insulation; installing window films and shades and radiant barriers, and high efficiency heating and cooling systems means a more comfortable home for a lower operating cost. Improving the performance of your home with efficiency upgrades also means more evenly distributed heat throughout the home — so you don’t have to worry about drafts, or rooms that are hot or cold.

Improved Indoor Air Quality.

Poor indoor air quality can contribute to allergies, asthma, and more serious long term health problems. Caused by everything from pet dander to mold spores, from cigarette smoke to toxins from common building products, and compounded by insufficient ventilation, poor indoor air quality presents a potentially serious health threat. During a whole house energy audit, building science experts analyze your home’s ventilation to assess whether it’s adequate — and what can be done to increase the amount of fresh air entering your home, and improve your home’s air quality for you and your family.

Better Health & Safety.

Related to indoor air quality is the larger issue of health and safety in the home. Could your combustion equipment be backdrafting? Does your home have radon? Are dangerous carbon monoxide fumes from your attached garage entering your home through air leaks? These are all questions that a qualified whole-house energy auditor like those on the 1st Choice Energy team are trained to answer.

Greater Building Durability.

One of the core principles of the whole-house building science approach to energy efficiency is to promote building longevity and durability. After all, a building is neither energy efficient nor cost-effective if it’s constructed poorly and fails before its time. By controlling moisture infiltration from the outside of the home by improving the building envelope, and moisture build-up from the interior of the building by air sealing the building envelope and adding adequate ventilation and moisture control strategies, building science best practices can ensure greater durability. The audit is the first step in this process.

Higher Resale Value.

In an era of increasing energy prices, volatility in the energy markets and increasing concern about man-made climate change and the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to it, energy efficient buildings are enjoying an increased demand in the otherwise slouching housing market. Investing in energy efficiency improvements will ensure that your home fetches a higher resale value down the road.

First Choice Energy;

V3 Solar has come up with an innovative way to solve some heat issues with concentrated PV panels.

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V3 Solar claims to be able to manufacture solar panels for under

The Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR) has halted the scheduled implementation of electricity wheeling to allow the Jamaica Public Service Company Limited (JPS) to make an application to the Electricity Appeal Tribunal.

This means that the OUR will not begin to process applications for wheeling this month, as was scheduled.

A statement from the OUR today said the JPS requested that the regulator put a stop the process, pending the hearing of its appeal.

The grounds of appeal have not been revealed.

In return for the OUR

Students from Ascot Primary in St Catherine take in a wind turbine during a tour of the Wigton Windfarm in Manchester.

JAMAICA can triple its electricity generated from wind if it uses up its full potential.

A recent wind resource assessment identified four locations suitable for energy development with a combined potential generating capacity of 212 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) annually (just over five per cent of total consumption).

The study, which assessed 24 prospective sites across the island, revealed that Rose Hill and Top Lincoln in Manchester, Winchester at the foot of the John Crow Mountains in St Thomas, and Kemps Hill in Clarendon could each yield more than 5.3 million kWh a year.

The Winchester site in St Thomas was described as “by far the best wind site surveyed so far”, according to a Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ) press statement released yesterday.

PCJ-owned Wigton Windfarm has already picked the Rose Hill site to place a 24 megawatt (MW) wind farm facility, for which it made a submission to the Office of Utilities Regulation’s (OUR) in response to a Request for Proposals for 115 MW of electricity generation capacity from renewable energy sources.

Wigton, which currently produces 97 million kWh from its 38.7 MW of installed capacity, projected that it could generate 63 million kWh from the new site by 2015.

And if the other three sites are developed, total wind energy production in Jamaica could surpass 320 million kWh, after taking Jamaica Public Service Company’s (JPS’s) Munro Wind Farm output into account.

What’s more, when the four addtional sites are exploited, Jamaica stands to reduce national oil consumption by at least 124,000 barrels a year, which cost above $1.2 billion annually.

The wind resource assessment was carried out as part of a wind and solar development programme, which is being implemented by Wigton under a funding agreement between the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the PCJ.

“The programme aims to increase Jamaica’s utilisation of renewables by developing photovoltaic and wind power plants to supply the national grid,” said the PCJ release.

The study was based on data collected between November 2011 and January 2012.

“With our current focus on utilising our natural resources to address our energy challenges, both the government and the private sector need credible information to make development and investment decisions about viable energy solutions,” said Earl Barrett, Wigton Windfarm’s general manager.

“The national wind resource assessment will be a great resource to the majority of interests in Jamaica’s energy Sector, but we hope it will be particularly useful for potential investors.”

Jamaica Observer;