Energy Efficiency

Discuss ways to improve energy efficiency in rural Alaska.

53 Responses to “Energy Efficiency”

  1. Alaska Pi ∆ Says:

    Lots of questions about energy use!
    Nunam and Pilot Point both have electrical utility companies- with diesel generating systems.

    Everyone runs 120VAC?
    Any way to transform meaningful amounts of use to 12V ?

    Are folks using LED and/or CFL lighting? Can we send CFL bulbs? Or is proper disposal a nightmare?
    LED world is changing so rapidly right now it’s hard to keep up here at the hardware store where I work…

    Nunam is in process of getting vacuum sewer system and what looks like above ground circulation water system(s)… will these systems be energy sensible? Backup if power goes out?

    How do folks in PIP pump their water? Vic said something about a personal windmill project? Do folks have elec pumps?

    State weatherization program for homes was due to be revamped by state so it was ACTUALLY usable by rural communities… anyone heard where that is in the melee?
    As program stood – it required getting energy audits by homeowners and getting work done by contractor, then getting rebate by state.Boy- how useful was that to folks outside urban areas…?

    Is refrigeration propane or elec-mostly?
    Are folks having to run old energy hogs cuz of cost to buy and get new into their area?
    Is waste heat off refrig sys usable?

    Oh- gotta go to work…back later

  2. annstrongheart Says:

    AK PI,

    All these answers are for Nunam:

    120VAC – yes

    Convert to 12V? I don’t think so, the only thing we use that is 12V is our VHF radios

    Supposedly the water/sewer system they are installing is energy efficient and will operate even when the power is out.

    The Weatherization Program has been here. They were here last month and inspected my house and are going to do lots of work on this house in the summer. New roof, more insulation, replace glass in windows, new doors, elevate the house, more efficient wood stove and caulk everything. Assuming this old house can handle all of that and not fall down.

    All refrigerators here are electric. You would freak out if you knew how much I paid for my tiny refrigerator. It’s about 30 inches high, 20 inches deep by 20 inches wide. And we bought it in Emmonak and no, I won’t tell how much it cost.

    As far as is the refrigerator waste heat reusable – yes it does! It makes a nice little warm spot next to the wall it is in front of and makes it perfect environment for condensation and black mold! Along with anywhere else in our house that has anything near the outside walls, which is pretty much the entire perimeter of our house. The mold battle is constant.

  3. Alaska Pi ∆ Says:

    Ann S-


    CFL- compact fluorescent light…those twirly lil fluorescents which fit in a regular light socket. They have their own ballast built in so do not need a special fixture… come in different ‘color temperatures’ which is a description of the yellow to white to blue-white light they give off. They burn around 1/3-1/4 of electricity as regular bulbs and if run for a minimum of 3 hrs a day ( and what Alaskan does not run lamps 3 hrs or more a day in the winter if they can afford it!?) they last 8000-10000 hrs -usually.
    Supposed to be disposed of carefully cuz of the ballast…I can send some if folks want to try em…and have a safe way to dispose of em.

    Yup on the LEDs. Lighting manufacturers are working to develop useful LED bulbs for regular lighting needs. We are ordering a few to see how well they are coming along. Still not appealing everyday light to most folks- diffuse source and almost too blue… if and when folks get that sorted out it will change lighting world!
    A bazillion times less watts for each fixture and very long lives…

    SO GLAD weatherization program came out there!

    Hope all those things make your house toastier and more comfortable.

    What level humidity do you have inside? Or is the mold/mildew more a product of cold walls meeting warm room air and condensing all moisture out ?
    Yuck. Mildew/mold is yucky no matter what.

    I know most folks do not want the details but I am fascinated by the vacuum sewer project. What little I’ve read makes it sound a great choice for a small community on a variety of levels…I’m sorry for Nunam and your husband that the job is on hold for awhile. Hope weather and barges co-operate this year!!

  4. Jim Says:

    At Costco I saw a new item– a Light Emitting Doide flood light that puts out the equivalent of 45 watts of incandescent light. It costs about 15 bucks but it only consumes 5 watts. Electricity in the Bush is so expensive that these things would pay for themselves quickly if they work acceptably. I think they are long-lived. When I get back to Anchorage I’ll send a couple of these out. They work with motion sensors but I don’t know how cold they start, and they put out very little heat.

    I’m told LED lights are the future– they are extremely efficient (from what I’ve seen they use less electricity than fluorescents), and they seem to be resistant to power surges from “dirty” electricity (like from diesel generators)?

    Current disadvantages are they are expensive and the light is often cool and blue. I wish they came out with something that illuminated like halogen.

  5. Jim Says:

    What boggles my mind about refrigerators is I’ve never seen any consumer refrigerator that uses outside air. It seems if, in Alaska, you put your refrigerator on an outside wall, you could have a vent that would open and pipe cooling into the refrigerator from outside when the outside air was cool enough to cool the refrigerator contents. Or you could use some kind of liquid circulation from outside to refrigerator. Then, rather than running a compressor, the vent would open (or the liquid would circulate) when the thermostat told it to, and cool the inside of the refrigerator. You would also need the refrigerator’s old-fashioned compressor for when the outside air was too warm (above freezing). I really doubt one would have to be a rocket scientist to invent something like this.

  6. Jim Says:

    Conceptually (perhaps not realistically) you could attach an insulated box to a window opening and heat it to 38 degrees from inside during winter with some kind of thermostat controlled door/vent. (landlord would probably complain about that too). For freezer you could do the same but just keep the window or door closed unless you are accessing food. That way you wouldn’t have to open your entry door and lose heat to access your frozen food.

    But as you remind me in your message above, rural Alaskans know best how to live where they live– you’ve already resolved passive food freezing– during winter you keep your frozen food outdoors.

    I’ve had landlords and I appreciate your realism and tenant responsibility (eviction from Nunam Iqua could be especially harsh).

    If you develop holes in walls, just apologize; you forgot to put the 12-gauge on safety . . .

  7. annstrongheart Says:

    AK PI,

    What level humidity do you have inside? Or is the mold/mildew more a product of cold walls meeting warm room air and condensing all moisture out ?
    Yuck. Mildew/mold is yucky no matter what.

    It’s a product of cold walls meeting warm room air etc… According to our indoor/outdoor thermometer that has a humidity read out, our humidity runs about 20-30 % which seem very low to me. And yes I did make sure it was reading the INDOOR humidity by walking over with the tea kettle and watching the humidity #’s soar LOL

    I wish there was some chemical/cleaner that would prevent it from coming back. I bleach the heck out of it and it still comes back.


    I don’t know about the cold start issues, I would like to put a CFL outside b/c the ones we have inside are so bright that they would be great outside but FL’s don’t do cold.

    As far as the refrigerator, we do kinda do something like that…meaning during the winter we store freezables in the porch and save electricity that way. And I drink lots of ice water and I love it when it’s below zero out b/c then I can just partially fill a glass with water and throw it in the porch and have ice water much quicker than waiting on icecubes in the freezer. hee hee

    I don’t think I’ll try cutting a hole through our wall though because we rent and I don’t think our landlords would appreciate that. Plus it’s drafty enough in here, I don’t want to make another possible draft. Especially since we can’t just run to the hardware store to do it properly.

    I would like to get one of those heat reclaimers for our chimney pipe though, heard they work great and don’t use any electricity.

  8. anonymousbloggers Says:

    You would also need the refrigerator’s old-fashioned compressor for when the outside air was too warm (above freezing). I really doubt one would have to be a rocket scientist to invent something like this.

    We have a heat exchange on our central air conditioner. Water from the hot water heater circulates through it and is heated so the water heater doesn’t run as much.

    When you find that rocket scientist, see if he can design a refrigerator that, while running, keeps a small tank of water hot.

  9. JuneauJoe Δ Says:

    I just spoke to the Principal at Emmonak School and he said Emmonak is looking at adding classes in subsistance living.

    He and I also talked about having a Voc Ed person teaching kids how to work on making homes energy efficient so Natives can get the weatherization jobs for upgrading houses. There is a person on staff who is getting his Voc Ed certification, so that part is in the works.

    He said they have lots of snow and there have been many more -30 degree days this winter than there were last winter when I was there. He offered me a job but I declined. Maybe in a year or two I will be back at a village for a year but I do not think it will be next year.

    He also said the hunger and need is very real in Emmonak. We stayed away from politics because his job is to educate students. Emmonak is having a very good year too. Good staff and Great Kids!

  10. Sue Says:

    Who owns the land that the oil wells are on? If it is tribal land, then they tribe should have some sort of contract that allows the oil companies to use their land. This contract should include a section that guaranatees all the native Alaskans free or low-cost (be sure to define “low-cost”) fuel for their cooking, heating, vehicles and any other fuel you use. If the oil companies will not give you this agreement, then cancel their leases.

    If the state owns the land, then you need to make your legislators get this agreement for you.

  11. shrinkinggranny Says:

    Possibly something here (just posted it to another thread, but the info might be useful here, too)

    I just put in a search for “gov grants” at google… holy cats! “Find. Apply. Succeed. is your source to FIND and APPLY for federal government grants. ”

    Also: “Today, is a central storehouse for information on over 1,000 grant programs and provides access to approximately $500 billion in annual awards. ”

    Surely there’s *something* on that website that would or could apply here!

  12. DrChill Says:

    Hi –

  13. DrChill Says:

    Hi- I have a few tips.

    1: No Cost-
    If you use boiling water for cooking, don’t pour it down the drain until it is -Room Temperature-. Same with warm bath water. Warm or hot water holds LOTS OF HEAT, and its a waste to pour it down the drain.
    Let the heat warm the inside air before disposing of the water.

    2: low cost.
    Tape clear plastic around window frames.
    This helps reduce infiltration, and creates an insulating layer of air between the room and the cold window.
    The best is crystal clear shrink wrap plastic designed for this purpose. Its easy to see through, and you an shrink it to eliminate wrinkles in the plastic. Next best would be inexpensive but cloudy drop cloth-type plastic.
    Its possible to create multiple layers of trapped air between sheets of plastic. I tape plastic over window sashes before I put another layer around the entire window frame.This effectively creates another pane in the window, reduces infiltration and helps hold heat.
    Do this if you do not have high tech triple pane windows or windows with frost or condensation inside.

    3: No Cost
    Move the fridge.
    Some homes have a cool or cold room (Not freezing) like a pantry that is under heated or poorly insulated. Consider moving the refrigerator from a warm to a cool place. Refrigerators use much more electricity than most other appliances. Keeping it cooler will help it run less, and save electricity.

    4: No Cost
    Time the use of appliances and use of heat.
    Washing dishes, washing and drying clothes uses heat. Keep the heat inside when people can enjoy it.
    Avoid venting clothes dryer heat to the outside.

    5: No or low cost
    Heat different spaces according to time & need.
    Use timed thermostats, and adjust each room according to need.
    Some rooms need to be warm only at certain times. If possible close doors to cooler rooms that need less heat, and adjust vents or baseboards or radiators or louvers to adjust the heat to each room.

    6: low cost
    Find and eliminate any source of cold air infiltration.
    This should be first on the list, but I assume you already know where the cold drafts were, and eliminated them. Consider looking for hard to find sources of infiltration.
    Inspect any hole in interior or exterior walls or floors, where electric, plumbing, drains, vents, phone or other utilities are including walls paneling ceiling and floor etc, including where the house sits on the foundation.. Look for gaps, cracks or seams between electrical boxes & switches. Doors and windows, may need another very critical look.
    A burning stick on incense may be helpful to detect air movement where there should be none.
    Use caulk or expanding foam insulation to fill the cracks.
    Doors and windows need special attention.

    Be mindful of the need for fresh air for some appliances like furnaces.
    Some homes in cold climates have heat exchangers for fresh air. They heat the fresh incoming air with the warm exhaust air.

    7. $$
    Proper insulation is a big topic and needs special attention. Be aware that some insulation, especially in ceilings can become dislodged. If you have access to the ceiling of the top floor, examine and repair and supplement the insulation there. Substantial home heat is lost here.

    8. $
    Compact fluorescent Bulbs use 1/4th the energy of incandescent bulbs.
    and can pay for themselves in savings, in a season. They’re much cheaper in bulk packs of 6 or more. Be aware that -cold- temperatures make them slower to start, and dimmer when first turned on. The new generation of CF bulbs are quick starting, have no flicker, and have a warm natural white color. They may not be suitable for outdoor applications.
    They can -not- be used in dimmer switches, unless they are specially designed to be dimmed. There are also 3 way CF bulbs, spot lights and globes for vanities.

    Thats it for now. I hope this is helpful.

  14. alaskapi Says:

    Dr Chill-
    All your ideas are welcome!

    It is hoped that folks will sit down and work through a general approach to energy efficiency in their homes and public buildings. CFLs are in use in villages , within the parameters you note, but create a waste issue when they are done.
    Hopefully, the revamped weatherization program will ACTUALLY work for rural Alaskans in their homes. The program was not set up originally to work well away from urban centers.
    As folks in so many villages have no store of any kind , even basic weatherization supplies are tough to get. The NO $ ideas are good for that reason.
    LED technology is growing and changing so rapidly that it is hoped that someday soon lighting could be switched over entirely- wouldn’t that be cool?!

  15. DrChill Says:

    It sounds like you need to organize a purchasing co-operative.

    You might be able to buy in bulk and save. You could also share some information and practical advise on how to use the products.
    LED products are available on-line. They rival the energy efficiency of CF bulbs, and -if memory serves, they work better in cold temps! and last a very long time and are rugged. I’m not sure about the color and flicker though.

    If you can organize a collective of some sort, you might want to research a thermal infrared camera that literally lets you see a color picture of temperatures. Its so sensitive you can practically see through walls and see where there are problems with infiltration and insulation. Its the ultimate in finding out exactly where heat is being lost.

    Here’s a link to an informative video.

    The product is lazir

    FYI other links …

    Good luck

  16. alaskapi Says:

    Thanks Dr Chill-!

    There is a lot of hope that a buying co-op becomes a real thing in near future.
    Folks are so busy right now working on getting food in, commenting on fish issues within the current comment period, and trying to figure out how to get a community garden going ASAP , when weather changes, that the co-op is on back burner.

    LED tech is changing almost daily right now . The issues with it being a diffuse light source( even more so than CFLs) and focussing the available light are the stickiest currently. Filters and so on are being used to adjust the color temp to those which are more comfortable for folks… as they use around 1/10th the elec as regular bulbs there is great hope the technology will shake itself out in the near future.

  17. DrChill Says:

    Wow LEDs are changing quickly!

    just noticed this:

    Click to access home_energy_rebate_factsheet_03.pdf

    It looks like there are serious weatherization projects going on now. I think it deserves serious attention.

    Is THIS the money Palin is refusing!?


    March 10, 2009 at 3:53 pm
    I just spoke to the Principal at Emmonak School and he said Emmonak is looking at adding classes in subsistence living.

    He and I also talked about having a Voc Ed person teaching kids how to work on making homes energy efficient so Natives can get the weatherization jobs for upgrading houses.

    That seems to be a good idea.
    The weatherization rebates require an as-is audit, and a post project audit. Service providers are backed up and there are long delays. Seems Voc. Ed might be a good way to do job training/creation, keep jobs local, and help everyone stay warm.

    Good luck.

  18. Michigander Says:

    I just came from (shrinkinggranny) and found info re:tribal weatherization. Will attempt a link here…;jsessionid=rkgnJGpNynnDn64zgKjFCpGtQZhGjYTmd3G7Pm6vFZ8Zq3MG4GSC!161260983?oppId=46136&flag2006=false&mode=VIEW

    Okay not sure if that worked but what I found was worth checking out I believe.

  19. alaskapi Says:

    Thanks Michigander and Dr Chill-
    The original weatherization program did not work in rural alaska because of the pre-work audit and rebate after the fact to consumers…simply too hard to manage in the bush. Something like what you found M is in the works now. Look toward top of this page- Ann S has had an audit now and is awaiting the work.
    As is the case in remote areas- a lot is now waiting on better weather and breakup and all to be able to get stuff in in a more cost effective method.
    Keep the ideas coming- brainstorming and solid by-the-book homework should be equal partners in shaping the future..!

  20. Michigander Says:

    Good! What I found is from the Obama recovery act and was updated march 16 so I thought it might be something different.

  21. Jim Says:

    Ann, Victoria, or anyone who can answer- How much does electricity cost in your villages per kilowatt hour? Does the price change much? (it probably went up this year?)

    Do most folks use propane for cooking?

    How much does heating oil cost per gallon?

    Sorry if I missed this information elsewhere. Thanks.

  22. annstrongheart Says:


    Here in Nunam Iqua we had a 40% rate increase last summer due to rising fuel prices.

    We currently pay $0.53 (fifty three cents) per KWH less State Assistance (PCE) at $0.33 per KWH so that what $0.20 a KWH.

    Our house is very small about 24′ x 20′ single story and we average anywhere between $70 and $120 a month electricity bills. Of course it’s higher in the winter even if we use our wood stove during the day.

  23. Jim Says:

    I need some feedback from rural folks.

    Alaska’s executive branch seems to be arguing that we shouldn’t have building codes in rural communities. I have to say, I like building codes– for example I think they keep us safer in earthquakes and from fire. I think building codes should probably at least be encouraged in rural Alaska. I don’t think rural residents should have to bear the brunt of any additional costs of building codes but I think code adherence could improve the quality of buildings for users and renters.

    What worries me about recent statements from the executive branch is, they almost seem to oppose building codes for rural Alaskans. They seem to think rural Alaska should be a Building Code Free Zone. But if we took the opposite stance, what would we need? I think the state would need to assist and help fund statewide programs. The payback could be Rural Alaskans would be entitled to the same peace of mind and safety the rest of us have in our inspected buildings. I keep reading about tragic house fires in villages where people get injured or killed, sometimes because of electrical malfunctions, and I wonder if lives could have been saved if new construction were up to code.

    Any feedback would be appreciated.

  24. anonymousbloggers Says:


    This is a Pandora’s Box that needs a little shaking.

    Many people seem to rent. Who are the landlords? Is it the Native Corporations? Congress will be taking a closer look at oversight of them beginning July 16.

    I look forward to feedback from rural Alaskans as well. Seems like a chance to inject an ounce of prevention.


  25. Jim Says:

    Jane: You’re right especially about the Pandora’s Box part. I wondered if I should ask or not. I figured I might as well ask.

    The governor talks about how much code compliance would cost rural Alaskans, but I also wonder how much human lives are worth. Are rural lives not worth as much as urban residents?

    Building codes exist primarily for safety, not for socialist conspiracy. I’ve read the National Building Code and it seems very well thought out.

  26. DrChill Says:

    The talk is about energy efficiency codes, in the The State Energy Program not building codes.
    The energy efficiency codes would be easier to monitor if there was already in place a mechanism to inspect buildings.

    The State Energy Program (SEP) requires a random selection and inspection of new and renovated construction to demonstrate compliance. Once thats done the “strings” are cut. There’s no further obligation to the SEP.

    SEP defines a term ‘home rule’ states, in which the state has no authority to enforce a state building code on local municipalities.

    Is Alaska one of them?

  27. Jim Says:


    You’re right; please read:

    Notice Palin talks about “building codes.”

    I don’t know if Alaska is a ‘home rule’ state.

  28. Jim Says:

    Also, Palin’s press release is at:

  29. alaskapi Says:

    Please contact your state senator’s office and/or state rep’s office. The Legs seem to have studied this quite a bit more carefully than the governor’s office has.

    I am concerned that the lack of understanding about these funds outside the “hallowed halls” of government – such as we have here – and the obvious lack of understanding within the executive branch, will allow Alaska to lose an important chunk of money which not only would save energy costs over decades but also result in the loss of paid work for Alaskans to make the upgrades to buildings.

  30. DrChill Says:

    SEP relieves states of obligations under SEP when it has demonstrated by – a random sample of newly built or renovated buildings, that they comply with the state’s chosen energy codes, 90% of the time.
    Once they have, its done- finished.
    No more “strings”…

  31. alaskapi Says:

    Dr Chill- or anyone else here…

    Could you/would you lay out what you know…? Please?
    In simple terms , from the beginning. At this point we are all reacting somewhere past “go’ and from different places.

    It would serve us all well if we could have a from-the-beginning tutorial if you are up to it…
    Then maybe we could patch our own bits and pieces into the whole…

  32. anonymousbloggers Says:

    I second Alaskapi’s request. If someone could summarize this issue in terms that people outside Alaska can understand, we’ll post it on the blog as a new thread.

    We try to keep this site as non-political as we can but this is something that needs to be understood and discussed by people outside your state.


  33. DrChill Says:


    Click to access StateComplianceEvaluation%20Rev2.pdf

    The Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Building Energy Codes Program (BECP) is developing guidelines and tools for measuring and expressing compliance with building energy codes in each of the states. These will assist states in responding to and implementing conditions specified in the State Energy Program (SEP) Formula Grants American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Funding Opportunity, Number: DE-FOA-0000052 (referred to below as the ARRA-SEP). The funding opportunity announcement contains the following conditions:
    (2) The State, or the applicable units of local government that have authority to adopt building codes, will implement the following:
    (A) A residential building energy code (or codes) that meets or exceeds the most recent International Energy Conservation Code, or achieves equivalent or greater energy savings.
    (B) A commercial building energy code (or codes) throughout the State that meets or exceeds the ANSI/ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1–2007, or achieves equivalent or greater energy savings.
    (C) A plan to achieve 90 percent compliance with the above energy codes within eight years. This plan will include active training and enforcement programs and annual measurement of the rate of compliance.”
    etc …

    The stimulus package State Energy Progtam would pay states to adhere to energy standards.
    There are standards for NEW homes, (ASHRAE) and for NEW large commercial buildings (IESNA). (New, and major renovations.)

    States are required to either adopt the recommended codes, or pick their own and show that their own standards will save as much – or more energy than the recommended ones.

    It gives guidance – suggestions on how best to comply( STRINGS !). Train inform enforce. (All suggestions. Not strings)

    Read the suggested 10 point check list in the above dock, that shows how simple and straightforward the codes are for home owners.

    The bottom line is IF the state can do a random survey that shows 90% compliance the obligation to the ‘feds’ is finished.
    Done. Ended. Strings cut.

    Some states have “home rule” jurisdiction which means the state can not enforce building or energy codes.
    The document addresses this and suggests ways for states to cope with this situation.
    Some jurisdictions in “home rule” states can apply for federal funds independently of the state.
    The AK legislature seems to informed about the program, and I have not heard of home rule applying to AK. ( I do not know.)

    If you look at the energy codes for commercial buildings, you’ll have a fit if you’re not familiar with the terminology, and the awful narrative.
    The bottom line is to figure out which part of the code applies to your kind of new building or major renovation, then see what needs to be done.

    Insulate ducts and pipes and ceilings walls and basements. Use efficient equipment. Don’t use lots of glass thats not well insulated ( U rating )
    Use high R rated insulation.
    Use timers on lights, and have switches that shut off all the office lights….

    Most of this technical type of work is done by licensed pros that can figure out the language in the code, and they do it in the planning phase of designing a building.

    The code includes climate classifications that include places with varying heating and cooling “degree days” for example:
    1 week of 10 degree weather is 65 – 10 degrees, times 7 days =1320 heating degree days.
    The code applies to all climates in the US.

    It is for sure NOT one size fits all, rather it works in ALL in 50 states… and internationally.

  34. Kath the Scrappy from Seattle Says:

    Not as technical as you all are discussing, but I was surprised to discover something a few days ago. I’ve got thermal windows and weatherized home, one of the main selling points when I bought.

    In a previous apt, the Landlord & I went together with City of Seattle weatherization program (both agreeing to split cost & pay over a 3 yr period for our share) for insulation & thermal windows. That cut my electric bill (all electric inc baseboard heat) about 40% in the winter – immediately.

    When Palin was refusing the Stimulus funds, I kept saying “Once a house is weatherized, it’s DONE for the life of the building, don’t have to re-weatherize 2 yrs later.”

    Anyway, something I discovered. I had my car windshield replaced last week. The guy mentioned that he also did house window repairs. So I took him in to see a window. Moisture running between the double panes. He said the thermal seal was broken, so it wasn’t insulating. I asked if he needed to replace the unit? He said NAH, the glass is fine, just need to reseal and blow gas up through some tiny plug in the window bottom seal. I expected it would be an expensive job, but it’s only $65. It won’t take long before that pays itself off, not to mention the comfort level. Rural AK seriously NEEDS these weatherization projects! Not only for the jobs, but it simply makes life more affordable.

  35. Kath the Scrappy from Seattle Says:

    Perhaps I should clarify. When the Landlord & I did the weatherization program, it was house where he lived upstairs and I rented bsmt apt. They weatherized the entire house all at once. Even though we agreed to crank up my rent (I THINK it was $50/mo) I saved much more than that in the electric bills.

  36. alaskapi Says:

    Alaska has no statewide code. Some local authorities meet or exceed the rules in draft Dr Chill notes above. Sate financed projects meet a slightly older measure. HOW these monies might work here is still very unclear…
    ‘The Building Energy Efficiency Standard (BEES) uses the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code, with Alaska Specific Amendments. This is the mandatory minimum energy efficiency standard for construction using state financing programs.” noted in state status of energy code relates to residential standard…
    Lots to learn and find on this subject…

  37. Jim Says:

    There is lots to learn, but I really, really doubt the federal government would ever penalize Alaska for non compliance if we accepted the stimulus funds.

    Alaska PI: I’ve been in contact with legislators, congressional staff, and even executive branch staff. All I can say is this stimulus act seems to invite diverse interpretations.

  38. alaskapi Says:


    You’re right on the “diverse interpretations”!
    Holy moley!
    The document noted by Dr Chill is an interim document so interpretation seems to be evolving as the whole thing unfolds for everyone involved.

    Am poking around trying to figure out HOW these funds would be disbursed and by whom- IF they were accepted in Alaska. so far…??

  39. Jim Says:

    I’m wondering what the difference would be between accepting stimulus funds in 2009 as opposed to 2010. It seems we’d almost certainly get more bang for the buck this year than next. I figure we may lose about a million dollars of buying power if we have to wait until 2010 (because of inflation). If you get more information about how the funds would be spent, please let us know!


  40. DrChill Says:

    I assume that the money is to offset administrative costs.

    I don’t think the document is open to wide interpretation, at all. It seems to give the states a free hand in implementing their own or the suggested codes.

    There are some items that are not fully spelled out, but the framework is there.

    Not stringy at all.

    This seems to be a poor example of too much regulation.

    1: pick a code.
    2: If you pick another code show it saves as much energy.
    3: show your state is complying with the code 90% of the time, by taking a random sample.

    Most of it is suggestion guidance and examples.

  41. DrChill Says:

    Ohh I cant believe it.
    BEES Building Energy Efficiency Standard has been updated and includes specifications from the same standards organization – ASHRE as the federal requirement.
    So, any one administering the BEES program should be familiar with the ASHRE efficiency standards.

    To be sure, the federal program would expand the existing program, but its not some strange new standard cooked up by the “Feds” in DC.

  42. alaskapi Says:

    The document itself is not open to wide interpretation as best I can see and you are right it is a poor model of over-regulation. :-)

    SEP is known in Alaska…
    SEP grants have already been used in Alaska- for practical, technical, and educational assistance .

    The “diverse interpretation” remarks come from trying to understand why this has turned into such a flap…

  43. DrChill Says:

    Why the flap?
    Sarah Palin.

  44. alaskapi Says:

    “trying to understand why this has turned into such a flap…”

    I don’t mean a flap here but newswise instate.

  45. alaskapi Says:

    Dr Chill- I disagree.
    There are a lot of Alaskans – and places in Alaska- who have resisted, and continue to resist codifying anything…
    Second class cities and unincorporated boroughs routinely have no building codes- inc energy efficiency standards.

  46. alaskapi Says:

    Home rule… I forgot.
    There’s a provision in AK Constititution for cities to charter themselves as home rule. My city is a home rule city by charter.

  47. Jim Says:

    But I wonder if, despite our second class cities and unincorporated boroughs that routinely have no building codes or energy efficiency standards, if we’d still be in compliance at least 90 percent of the time today– in other words, aren’t most places in Alaska already in compliance? Fairbanks? Anchorage? MatSu? Seward? Kenai? Soldotna? Juneau? Sitka? Ketchikan? etc. . .

  48. Jim Says:

    And what would be the consequences if we were, say, only 85 percent compliant? Would we have to refund 28 million dollars?

  49. DrChill Says:

    alaskapi Says:
    June 8, 2009 at 10:11 pm
    Dr Chill- I disagree.
    There are a lot of Alaskans – and places in Alaska- who have resisted, and continue to resist codifying anything…

    & Home rule.

    I don’t think I guesses about how people would accept it. I did suggest its easy for states to implement the regulation.

    BUT With all the other energy money floating around, I find it hard to believe that some would people resist insulating fully, and accepting money for it…

    I read on a blog somewhere, that the requirements only apply to towns of 2500 + population. ( true?)
    There is a provision for home rule states, but its unclear to me how that would work. Some jurisdictions can apply for the funds themselves.

    Anyone who has accepted BEES money, is familiar with ASHRE codes, and the ‘strings’ attached to government ( state ) money.

    Non compliance?
    I think it would require annual monitoring until 90% is achieved.

    the feds would come in control everything and take away your freedoms and turn you all into socialists…

    I heard they’re planning to ‘spread the wealth’ around by controlling the oil and paying off the citizens.

  50. alaskapi Says:

    Dr Chill-
    I just need to know more.
    The state has oversight and responsiblity to unincororated (2nd class cities) cities . Home rule (1st class cities) do seem to have the ability to apply for themselves though the audit procedures might be tangled in real use.
    I am less concerned about the latter and the BEEs code thingy ought to be manageable as a vehicle for the state to build on . Whether the state can or would for villages is what concerns me…and what concerns us all here at anonyb.
    The state weatherization program , which was so helpful in my community and Anchorage,etc, was unusable in bush communities until some changes were made this last winter. We are still waiting to hear if the changes are actually making the program work for our neighbors in villages…

    Phht on non-compliance… you’re right , it does sound like the feds just nag you til you do…and they’re 1st class naggers.

    I am related to hundreds of Alaskans who get pretty worried about what the gubbamint might REALLY be up to and have listened to endless arguments from those who think codes of any type are the 1st step down the road to perdition…so my guess is- IF Alaska gets the monies- education will be almost as important as energy efficiency gains :-)

  51. DrChill Says:

    You seem to have a handle on it. I think I’ve shared everything I know.
    A bit more than most non-Alaskans.

    IMO, I think the government is really up to avoiding energy waste, as this is the easiest and most effective way to close the gap between production and consumption.

    I’ve been in correspondence with Victoria about getting rural Alaskans together for the purpose of coordinating the effort to take advantage of the energy funds.

    In a nutshell, the idea is to create a mechanism for training locals to do the inspection and renovation work, and create local jobs.

    – and negotiate to buy materials in bulk at favorable cost and credit terms,

    -train experts in customer relations, job specification, cost estimation, and provide job oversight.

    – develop local expertise in the process with the state programs

    There may also be opportunities to help provide people with financial credit during the process.

    Maybe she can post a message about her progress writing up/outlining a plan.

  52. alaskapi Says:

    Have been in contact with Vic as well…
    This is where we find out if the re-vamped weatherization program is gonna work for the bush!

    Waiting for her to have time tween fish and chicks to pop in with a post on it…!
    I keep wondering if we ever manage to get a supply co-op going , whether super energy efficient frigs and so on could make their way into the inventory… but that’s down the road … plug the drafts and shore up r values first!

  53. DrChill Says:


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