July 18, 2018

A phrase we hear often in our energy efficiency business is: “this is such  a no brainer!”

Typically, our efficiency proposals offer a 2-4 year simple payback.  That’s a 25%-50% return-on-investment!  Our projects usually offer positive cash flow even after financing costs are factored in.  When you can borrow money at 3% and invest in a project that returns 50% the spread is, well, profit.

Conventional financial (“safe”) investments return anywhere from 7%-15%.  Many companies stereotypically put their cash into the stock market, T bills or bonds achieving returns that are an order of magnitude less than an investment in efficiency.  I have come to recognize this as a default decision – easy.  'A matter of a phone call, and wired money.  Done.  I’ve had clients with many hundreds of milli...

March 23, 2018

The field of Energy Auditing is changing.

Energy Audits are a standard practice for companies embarking on energy efficiency projects and investments.  The process is essential for the Consultant in order to establish a meaningful inventory of all the mechanical systems consuming gas, water and electricity throughout a facility.   Utility payments history, weather data, production, management practices, and infrastructure information are then overlaid to create a baseline profile of how and where utility-related costs are being spent in an operation.  Once the “table is set”, system recommendations can be simulated to assess the bottom line cost-effect.   Based on this information a Consultant will recommend a suite of efficiency modifications to best lower utility and water charges to improve syst...

It's not often an efficiency auditor gets to see the 3 least efficient lighting systems all in one room!  

This is one of four enormous rooms.  

It is currently being lit by eight foot T12 fluorescent lights (180W), 250 watt metal halide lamps and 200 watt high pressure sodium lights.  Sheesh!

An energy efficiency consultant's dream!

These guys are using about 70% more electricity in this room than they need to, and the lighting is exceedingly poor to boot.  A retrofit would payback in less than 2 years!  

Waiting even a few months to retrofit these rooms is like leaving the faucet on for the entire summer.  Any difference the client might find in vendor pricing is wiped out by delay of even a few short weeks.  

I always tell my clients: "there is decision A and there's decision B.  The w...

July 3, 2017

(originally published in the Chattanooga Pulse Magazine)

Efficient and renewable are the energy ways of the future.

Energy efficiency is not sexy. You can’t really see it. You can’t point to it. But it has enormous potential to affect the planet’s growing thirst for power.  According to a recent World Energy Outlook report: “By 2030, energy efficiency and behavior change will offset more CO2 than all new wind, solar and alternative energy generation combined.”

Say what?   

Think about it: Since the 1970s, the country’s economy has grown 300 percent while our energy demand has only grown by about 50 percent. How did that happen?  “We have built things lighter, brighter, leaner and better over the past 40 years,” says Ray Segars, principal of Expo Energy and former executive with the Georgia Power...

June 29, 2017

I have been Gaia-d only a few times in my life.

Gaia is a hypothesis originally espoused by Dr. James Lovelock. It states, generally, that all organic and inorganic materials on Earth are interconnected and inter reliant on one another to maximize life itself. To be Gaia-d means to have an experience in nature where this concept is profoundly understood, even internalized. You could call it a spiritual awakening, but that perhaps over does it. To me, it’s a quiet understanding, nothing more.

When I was younger, one of my favorite hobbies was hunting woodduck in south Georgia. The sport involves seeking out isolated wetlands and hunkering down in crowded woods. Woodduck fly into these water holes late in the afternoon and "leave out" early in the morning. As they come in, crashing through trees and t...

September 9, 2016

Traveling through south Georgia and southern Alabama; hot, windless and meandering. I am on a three day sales trip and survey. Contracts are ready, but I’m not really thinking about that.

The drive makes me ponder. Slowly. The land is still. I drive, not too fast, but definitely too fast for here.   Towns with names like Bainbridge, Cairo, Eufaula. There are crossroads in the middle of nowhere, and I drive to a stop and look for no one coming. Old homes stand lonely in front of long, hard roads, frozen in a time that has long since passed by. And gone away. No one’s in those houses, probably. There’s nothing here, except the wind that doesn’t move. Occasionally, and only maybe, a lost, mangey dog will appear from under a raised porch, maybe a couple of chickens pecking about. Crows hop across the r...

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Get in touch // Tel: 423-400-1899 // steve@stephenoneil.com
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