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Utility: Questions & AnswersQ and A

1. What distinguishes the most successful utility HVAC programs?
The best HVAC programs have real savings, not fake savings, as their number one goal.
To get real savings:

  • The program has constant (daily) oversight of the work by the field technicians.
  • The program meets the utility and regulator effectiveness criteria.
  • To be consistently effective, there are constant calculations of the energy savings from the work and these calculations are based on field measurements.
  • Successful HVAC programs do not rely on deemed savings.
  • The program uses a single experienced HVAC vendor who works with local contractors to produce market transformation.
  • The vendor has a history of actions that they have taken to correct technicians, contractors, and procedures that have detracted from program performance.

2. What innovative ideas separate Proctor Engineering Group from the competition?
The innovations at Proctor make the real competition the status quo. The vast majority of houses, small commercial buildings, and HVAC systems suffer from “status quo – business as usual-itis”. When and if these structures and systems are addressed, they are not brought up to their energy efficiency potential.

There are three basic innovations that drive all of Proctor Engineering’s developments and programs:

  • The use of full scale QUALITY ASSURANCE. The quality of the final product is dependent on assuring that every step of the process from initial technician selection through the final test of the work is a closed loop. The loops are closed by continuous evaluation of each step and continuous improvement to make the system produce the correct final result.
  • The use of MONITORED RESULTS under real world conditions. The actual performance of buildings and their systems is the focus of Proctor Engineering. We are always monitoring buildings, systems, and technician/contractor performance and making decisions based on that information rather than a limited metric. For example, unlike many air conditioner designs and AC programs, we concentrate on the installed efficiency of the system as is appropriate to the climate and structure. Our competition depends on the SEER metric. Unfortunately, SEER is not the seasonal efficiency of an air conditioner. Due to oversimplification, SEER does not accurately represent the performance of air conditioners in real climates and under real installations.
  • The CONTINUOUS UPGRADE of the technical specifications and devices used. Based on the monitored results, we improve the specifications to obtain more savings for less expenditure. Based on monitored results, our upgrades have included controls, duct design, motor efficiency and more.

Proctor Engineering has built a portfolio of innovations: CheckMe! – a constantly improving quality assurance process, climate sensitive air conditioners (Hot Dry and Hot Wet), inexpensive control upgrades to existing cooling and heating systems to provide proven energy savings (WCC, DBTD, and HHPC), the Concept3™ motor, test equipment for AC diagnosis at low outdoor temperatures (Charging Jacket) and more.

3. What are the opportunities and barriers to successful HVAC programs?
Heating Ventilating and Air Conditioning systems are the “pinch points” through which most of the energy used in buildings flows. They will be there for a long time and have a long term effect on the demand and use of energy across a service area, region, or country. Increased energy use well into the future is a long term planetary emergency. One of the largest opportunities to successfully reducing energy use is to constantly focus on improving HVAC efficiency. The reverse of recognizing the long term emergency is to maintain a short term approach that produces successive “Booms and Busts”. Dealing only with immediate energy emergencies (black outs, brown outs, etc.) makes the next immediate emergency inevitable.

4. Are all Utility Programs essentially the same?
Not really, there are two kinds of programs:

  • Commodity programs like rebates for light bulbs or refrigerators
  • Non-commodity programs like HVAC or whole house programs

Commodity programs have limited variability. They can be acquired through the same process as utility pole acquisition. Commodity programs install a device with a “known” efficiency rating in place of another device also with a “known” efficiency rating. It matters little whether the device is sold/installed by vendor A or vendor B. The energy and peak savings are not particularly dependent on the QUALITY of who delivers the product, but rather the QUANTITY of the product delivered. Innovation in commodity programs is limited to items like marketing that produce more quantity.

Non-commodity programs have higher variability. They perform a service or install a device that is dependent on the quality of the service/installation. The savings and peak reductions depend on the QUALITY AND QUANTITY of the product delivered. It matters a great deal who the vendor is for a non-commodity program. There can be more innovation in these programs because they can introduce new and improved products, improved quality assurance, improved processes – as well as finding opportunities to increase production.

“Knowns” and Assumptions
Energy efficiency programs depend on a number of “knowns". “Everyone knows” that a 40 Watt incandescent lamp uses 40 Watts of power. Many “knowns" are actually assumptions that may or may not hold true for the product or within the program.

This is particularly true in HVAC programs. It is assumed that an air conditioner rated at 14 SEER averages one Watt hour of energy use for every 14 BTUs it produces. This assumption has many flaws – variability in the operating conditions, variability in the configuration of the system and house in which it is installed, and most importantly, variability in the quality of the installation. The very best case scenario – probably never achieved – would be that the air conditioner functioned to the rated seasonal efficiency.

      5. What questions should we ask potential program implementers?

    • How many technicians have you removed from your programs in order to protect the integrity of your program? (more is better)
    • How many people do you have available for immediate support for the field technicians? What are their names and work history?
    • How do you calculate the energy savings you report to us?

6. Are quality assurance (QA) and quality control (QC) the same thing?
No, Quality Assurance focuses on improving processes so that defects do not occur, while Quality Control focuses on identifying defects the program has already produced and correcting them.

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65 Mitchell Blvd, Ste 201
San Rafael, CA 94903

Who We Are

Our number one goal is saving energy. Proctor Engineering Group takes problems and turns them into solutions through extensive research and creative innovation. We help people develop and achieve conservation and energy efficiency goals.

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