News and Updates

September 15 Program Updates

Friday, September 16, 2016

There are still a few spots left in the upcoming Building Performance Institute Building Analyst (BPI BA) certification training session September 26-30 - see the Upcoming Training Opportunities section below for more information to register!

Reminder: Program changes impacting incentives went into effect on August 1, 2016. Make sure you are now using Version 9.5 of the Incentive Application Forms for the Southern California Edison (SCE) and SoCalGas® program as well as the SoCalGas only program for projects reserved on or after August 1. Projects reserved on or after September 1 may not use the v9 incentive application. Contact your Account Manager if you have any questions about the program changes or how they impact your projects. Keep reading below for additional program updates and upcoming training opportunities! 

SCE/SoCalGas Program Updates

Energy Pro Sunset Announcement 

Participating Contractors were provided an extension for usage of EnergyPro on Advanced Home Upgrade projects in early 2016. All Participating Contractors still using EnergyPro will need to reserve the remainder of their EnergyPro projects prior to October 15, 2016. All projects reserved before October 15 must have post-retrofit submission completed by December 30, 2016. 

Detecting and Confirming Gas Leaks on Pressurized Natural Gas and Propane Systems

According to the QA/QC Inspection Guidelines Version 6, Chapter 2, Section B: Leaks will be detected using an electronic leak detector at 1" per one second. If a potential leak is identified, it will be confirmed with micro leak detection solution.

Exactly what is micro leak detection solution and how does it differ from a soapy bubble solution? Micro leak detection solution is a product specially designed to detect the presence of leaks in pressurized systems and is available from a variety of manufacturers. While they all differ somewhat, they all share the ability to adhere to the material they are applied to and have the proper viscosity to easily detect even the smallest leaks.

Important factors:

Application: Depending on the product you use, you will have a choice of methods to apply it. Manufacturers may offer their products in spray bottles, squirt-on bottles, one-gallon containers and daubers (brush-on).

Strength: The strength of the solution is another important factor. Depending on the manufacturer, solutions are offered as full-strength or as a concentrate.

Methods: It is important that you follow the manufacturer's directions, as adding water to a full-strength solution will change its characteristics and viscosity, resulting in incorrect test results.

Micro Leak Detection Solution in Sheep's Clothing: Many people substitute a soap and water mixture for a leak detection solution. There are two main disadvantages to this:  1) soap solutions do not have the proper viscosity to remain on a metal surface while facilitating the formulation of bubbles, and 2) many household detergents contain compounds that promote pitting and corrosion of various metals, while micro leak detection solutions are specifically designed to be non-corrosive.

Confirming the Leak: Once you have been alerted to a possible leak by your electronic leak detector, break out your micro leak detection solution and apply it per the manufacturer's instructions. In many instances you will have to wait a few minutes to observe the formation of bubbles depending on the severity of the leak. A few extra minutes and a little bit of patience may well prevent a call-back to fix a leak you may have missed the first time around.

Advanced Home Upgrade Custom Path Update: Test-In Manometer Images Requirement

Effective for Advanced Home Upgrade Custom Value projects reserved on or after October 15, 2016:   images of the test-in blower door and duct test manometers must be submitted to the WebApp during the post-retrofit submittal process. If you have chosen the Custom Values path, but cannot use actual values for building leakage and duct leakage due to a hazardous condition present at test-in, then test-in blower door and duct test manometer photos do not have to be submitted and vintage default values will be used for those results. Vintage default values will also be used in place of the contractor supplied pre-retrofit numbers if contractors cannot supply images of duct test and blower door test results.

Reminder: Always be prepared to back up your work!

Images of post-retrofit diagnostic test results, equipment to be replaced and building elements that have an effect on the energy model should always be available upon request for all projects and should be kept on file with the Participating Contractor. In particular, please be sure to photograph and file images from the audit including, but not limited to: AC systems, furnaces, ductwork, water heaters, insulation, attics, walls, crawlspaces, windows and doors. Having these photos on file can help eliminate delays with processing should the need for verification arise.

Reserve Projects Prior to Construction to Ensure Availability of Incentive Funds

It is important to reserve projects in the WebApp prior to construction in order to:

  • Ensure that funding remains available for the project incentive.
  • Verify utility accounts and determine any previous participation to ensure the customer is eligible for the incentive. To assist with the utility account verification process, it is highly recommended to upload copies of the customer's recent electric and gas utility bills when submitting the reservation.
  • Lock in the project under existing program rules at the time the reservation is made.

Participating Contractors who submit pre-retrofit reservations after construction has been completed run the risk of the project being ineligible for any of these issues. 

Energy Modeling Software Must Remain Consistent Throughout Entire Project

Effective September 15, 2016, Participating Contractors may not change their chosen modeling software for the project after post-retrofit submission to the WebApp, even if the project is cancelled and resubmitted under a new project via the WebApp. A switch of software is still allowed after reservation submittal but prior to post-retrofit submittal. In this case, the reservation should be cancelled and resubmitted under the corrected modeling software.

BPI Certification Reimbursement - Update

Reminder! Program-sponsored BPI training is being offered September 26-30. The price of the training has been drastically reduced from a cost of $3,200 to $1,895. Effective immediately, Participating Contractors and Raters that have or will register for and complete the BPI BA certification through the program offered certification courses are now eligible for a $950 reimbursement. The reimbursement has been adjusted to approximately 50% of the certification cost. See the Upcoming Training Opportunities section of the newsletter for upcoming courses and registration information.

In order to be eligible for reimbursement, the Participating Contractor or Rater must have reserved and completed five jobs within 12 months after the date of certification. Once these jobs are completed, the following information should be provided to the Account Management team:

  • The list of project numbers of completed jobs
  • The name of the BPI BA, certification date and BPI number
  • Company name and confirmation of the company mailing address on file

SoCalGas Program Updates

Energy Pro Sunset Announcement 

Please note that the deadlines regarding EnergyPro described above also apply to the SoCalGas Program. The remainder of EnergyPro projects must be submitted prior to October 15, 2016 with post-retrofit submission completed by December 30, 2016. 

Energy Modeling Software Must Remain Consistent Throughout Entire Project

Effective September 15, 2016, SoCalGas program Participating Contractors may not change their chosen modeling software for the project after post-retrofit submission to the WebApp, even if the project is cancelled and resubmitted under a new project via the WebApp. A switch of software is still allowed after reservation submittal but prior to post-retrofit submittal. In this case the reservation should be cancelled and resubmitted under the corrected modeling software.

Test-In Manometer Images Requirement

This change also applies to SoCalGas Advanced Home Upgrade Custom Value projects reserved on or after October 15, 2016. Images of the test-in blower door and duct test manometers must be submitted to the WebApp during the post-retrofit submittal process. Please see the SCE/SoCalGas section above for information on how to handle situations where you cannot use actual values or images of duct test and blower door results. 

Quality Control Corner: RHA's Testing and Inspection Tools

Quite often, we field questions from Participating Contractors regarding the test equipment our Energy Field Technicians (EFTs) use as they perform inspections. We thought we would share with you a few of the tools all of our EFTs utilize on a daily basis.

Note: RHA/the program are in no way endorsing any of the products described here. We are simply presenting certain pieces of equipment that RHA uses to conduct inspections. There are numerous manufacturers that make similar products. The equipment is available from the OEMs and/or their distributors.

The Energy Conservatory DG-700 Pressure and Flow Gauge: The DG-700 is a versatile instrument (manometer) that measures pressure differentials and can be connected to The Energy Conservatory's (as well as other manufacturers) blower doors and duct testing equipment to measure airflow values. The manometer's two independent pressure sensors come in handy when performing building depressurization and combustion safety testing. By connecting tubing to the various pressure sensors, while locating the manometermand tubing in different areas of the home, combustion appliance zones (CAZs) and/or outside of the home, many different tests can be performed. The DG-700 has the ability to auto zero and baseline, and can be used with cruise control and a blower door to help maintain a constant building pressure without the use of a computer. DG-700s have a manufacturer-prescribed calibration cycle of two years; however, they should also be calibrated after being dropped, damaged or when they do not provide consistent results. RHA has their DG-700s professionally calibrated once a year, as well as if and when they are damaged or dropped. All of RHA's DG-700s are field-calibrated per TEC procedures every 90 days.

Bacharach Leakator® Jr Combustible Gas Leak Detector: Gas leakage testing is an important portion of the combustion appliance safety (CAS) testing procedures. The ability to quickly and accurately detect hydrocarbons/combustible gases aids in a complete and thorough inspection of the home. Bacharach's Leakator® Jr is an easy to use, compact, and lightweight combustible gas leak detector. The unit detects all combustible gases, requires no calibration and generates both an audio tone and a flashing visual indication when a combustible gas is identified. The Leakator® Jr performs a self-test each time it is powered on in fresh air and works in temperatures between 32° F and 104° F. The 12-inch flexible probe makes it easy to get around the back-side of piping and valves. Bacharach utilizes a long-life (five-year typical) sensor. The sensor itself is located at the end of the probe making sensor replacement easy, if necessary. The unit is designed to detect gas levels at both 20 ppm and 50 ppm, switching between the two is accomplished by double-tapping the power button with the unit running. As a precaution, RHA uses this piece of equipment at the most sensitive level.

Sensit® CO Carbon Monoxide Analyzer: CAS testing calls for measurements of carbon monoxide (CO) from various sources including: furnaces, water heaters, ovens, broilers, cooktops, natural gas fireplaces, as well as ambient measurements. The Sensit® CO carbon monoxide analyzer offers quick and easy testing of carbon monoxide for various applications. The unit's stainless steel probe is well-suited for insertion into appliance vents and flues, as well as oven vents terminating at the top of a range. Standard configuration is an "as measured CO value" with a resolution of 1 ppm and a range of 0-2000 ppm, with an accuracy of +/-5 ppm or 5% (whichever is greater). The unit is powered by three "C" batteries. By adding the optional oxygen (O2) sensor the Sensit® CO is able to take air-free CO measurements (with a range of 0-5000 ppm) in addition to displaying oxygen concentrations. Sensit outfits the instrument with a water/dirt filter, along with an infrared communications interface for use with an optional printer. Sensit® CO carbon monoxide analyzer requires calibration every 30 days. Calibration gases can be purchased for field calibration, although all calibration gas must be NIST traceable.

Big Blue Micro Leak Detection Solution: Once a natural gas or LPG leak has been identified by an electronic gas leak detector, it needs to be verified by the application of a micro leak detection solution. This task is easily accomplished by an application of Big Blue. The process is quite simple depending on the application method chosen. The solution is available in spray bottles or dauber (lid-mounted brush) equipped bottles. Liberally coat the area of the suspected leak with Big Blue, wait a few moments and inspect the area for bubbles forming from the leak. Larger leaks will becomeapparent more quickly than smaller ones will. When applying the solution small bubbles may sometimes appear, do not confuse these application bubbles with bubbles caused by a gas leak. The solution is non-toxic, non-corrosive, and biodegradable. Depending on how much you will be using you can choose from 1-quart spray bottles, gallon jugs, or 55-gallon drums.

Mechanical Ventilation Clarification: It is the responsibility of the Participating Contractor to follow local, state and federal code requirements regarding mechanical ventilation. For clarification, if mechanical ventilation (MV) is required, making up the deficit for bathroom and/or kitchen fans only applies to existing equipment. When MV is required, the Participating Contractor may choose to replace an existing bathroom fan to meet the minimum MV requirements of the home. To do this, the fan must meet all applicable code requirements, be activated by a motion detector when the bathroom is occupied and be able to supply enough CFM to meet the minimum 50 CFM bathroom requirement, plus make up the whole house CFM deficit indicated on the Mechanical Ventilation Calculator. If the Participating Contractor chooses to install an additional MV fan as opposed to replacing an existing bathroom fan, the installed fan must meet all applicable code requirements, be activated by a motion detector (if installed in a bathroom) and be able to make up the whole house CFM deficit indicated on the Mechanical Ventilation Calculator. Kitchen fans are required to have a minimum 100 CFM capacity. Bathroom fans in full bathrooms are required to have a minimum 50 CFM capacity.

Upcoming Training Opportunities

Fall Building Performance Institute (BPI) Building Analyst (BA) Certification Training

Are you or a member of your staff looking to become BPI BA certified? Participating Contractors with a BPI BA on staff are eligible to offer Advanced Home Upgrade projects to their customers for larger incentives and deeper energy savings. Breakfast and lunch will be provided for the classroom instruction days as well as breakfast on the written exam day.

Date: September 26 - 30, possibly October 1 to finish up any field exams if needed

Location: Classroom Venue - Hampton Inn, 10900 Yamaha Way, Cypress, California, 90630

                  Field/Test House - Mission Viejo, address to be provided a week prior to the training

Please ask your Account Manager for the registration coupon code and more information. Please also let your Account Manager know if you are interested in staying at the Hampton Inn during this training course. Register today - class size is limited!

Fall 2016 Required Technical Training

Save the date! Annual required Technical Training will be held Tuesday, October 4 from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the SoCalGas Energy Resource Center in Downey. Please make sure at least one person from your company is in attendance. Breakfast will be provided and BPI CEUs are available. Agenda items will include how to utilize the 10/200 Home Upgrade rule in your business model, industry guest speakers, program and energy modeling updates and more! Further details to come!

Ongoing training is available from the Residential Energy Efficiency Loan (REEL) Assistance Program. After completing training and becoming a REEL participating contractor, you can offer financing options to help your customers complete bigger projects for deeper energy savings! Learn more about REEL

September 1 Program Updates

Thursday, September 1, 2016

September 1 Program Updates

Reminder: Program changes impacting incentives went into effect on August 1, 2016. Make sure you are now using Version 9.5 of the Incentive Application Forms for the Southern California Edison (SCE) and SoCalGas® program as well as the SoCalGas only program for projects reserved on or after August 1. Projects reserved on or after September 1 may not use the v9 incentive application. Contact your Account Manager if you have any questions about the program changes or how they impact your projects. Keep reading below for additional program updates and upcoming training opportunities! 

SCE/SoCalGas Program Updates

Scope of Work Changes

As of September 15, the scope of work submitted at post-retrofit is the final scope of work eligible for incentive. Measures may not be added on at any point after post-retrofit submission through the WebApp.  No exceptions will be granted, so please ensure that you have selected every measure you wish to claim credit for before submitting the project post-retrofit.

Energy Modeling Updates

Cake Systems Version 1 and Version 2

CakeSystems Version 2 will not be available for use by Participating Contractors in the near future. CakeSystems Version 1 will continue to be permitted for Custom Path projects only. The incentive estimator in CakeSystems Version 1 will not be updated to reflect the recently updated program requirements. Obtain the therm, kWh and kW outputs from CakeSystems, and then input the required information into the Advanced Home Upgrade Incentive Calculator to calculate the estimated incentive according to updated program requirements. 

What's in a Value? Update 

If you use the utility bill calibration feature in your Custom Path energy model, please note the following update to the "Program Values for Custom Path" section of the "What's in a Value?" guidance from the August 15 Program Update to distinguish between Custom Path projects with or without utility bill calibration.

Program Values for Custom Path without Utility Bill Calibration*

Program values are the same for all Custom Path projects. These values are specific to the modeling software and Advanced Home Upgrade Custom Path projects; they will be set the same for all projects.

Example: Snugg Pro Program Values for Custom Path Projects

  • Dishwasher Efficiency (if present)
  • Refrigerator Efficiency
  • Thermostat Set-Points
  • Wind Zone
  • U-Value and SHGC for Windows
  • Lighting Type Present
  • Shielding
  • DHW Temperature Set-Point
  • Clothes Washer Efficiency (if present)

*For projects participating in the Custom Path utilizing Snugg Pro's utility bill calibration, please follow Snugg Pro's guidelines on how to enter inputs for existing/base values. 

Interested in learning more about the values to use in your model? Visit the Energy Modeling Resources Section of the Contractor Website for more information specific to your software vendor.

Upcoming Training Opportunities

Fall Building Performance Institute Building Analyst Certification Training

Are you or a member of your staff looking to become BPI Building Analyst (BA) certified? Participating Contractors with a BPI BA on staff are eligible to offer Advanced Home Upgrade projects to their customers for larger incentives and deeper energy savings.

The next Program-sponsored BPI BA training session will be September 26 - 30 in Cypress (classroom) and Mission Viejo (test house).  Please ask your Account Manager for the registration coupon code and more information. Register soon - class size is limited!

Fall 2016 Required Technical Training

Save the date! The annual required Technical Training will be Tuesday, October 4 from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the SoCalGas Energy Resource Center in Downey. Please make sure at least one person from your company is in attendance. Breakfast will be provided and BPI CEUs are available. More details to come!

Ongoing training is available from the Residential Energy Efficiency Loan (REEL) Assistance Program. After completing training and becoming a REEL participating contractor, you can offer financing options to help your customers complete bigger projects for deeper energy savings! Learn more about REEL