Rebuilt the Swiftsure Energy Services Website

Inviting you to stop by Swiftsure Energy Services to see what you think of the new site. While it looks very similar, we have updated the engines and things work much better. Plus, it works on all platforms such as phones and tablets.

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Coming Monday – ENERGY STAR Version 3

ENERGY STAR version 3 requirements are set to begin on any houses permitted after December 31. 

The builder rebates will continue.  We have heard mixed messages about whether the Federal tax credits will continue (we doubt it).  The smaller lighting rebate is set to continue but we are not sure for how long.

There are several key issues to be aware of.  We would be glad to meet with you prior to starting any of them, to make sure you hit the goals. 

 Some of the key factors to meet version 3:

  • 6 sided enclosures at stairwells, knee walls, tubs & showers etc.
  • Ensure equipment meets chosen pathway (HW & heating)
  • Thermal enclosure checklist
  • Water management checklist
  • Advanced framing methods
  • HVAC installer checklist
  • HVAC installer credentialed for version 3

You are probably already doing most of this already. Regardless, it’ll be a good idea to run through the requirements prior to constructing any new homes.  Although some of this is new and will have a learning curve we assure you in most cases, it won’t take too much to qualify.  

If your HVAC Company isn’t credentialed yet – there is a short webinar to get minimally trained:  This doesn’t cover anymore than just the basics and most (not all) installers will need to step up the quality of their installations.  They will also be required to fill out a form that gets submitted back to us. They will need to document proper sizing and accompanying house factors on the form.

Contact us at or 360-624-5523

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Solar in the Pacific NW!

As the rainy season begins here in the North West we feel it is a great time to share some information about solar options.  It is a common misperception that solar energy is worthless west of the Cascades.  However, the solar power that can be generated here is only slightly less that our sunny neighbors to the south.  With open access a photovoltaic system here can generate 4-5 kWh while our neighbors to the south may be able to produce around 6-7 kWh.  They also have trouble because of overheating their panels… we would rarely have that problem!

A couple of factors make solar a viable option here in the NW.

  • Costs have dropped about 50% the last year
  • Incentives for solar are still widely available

Done properly a system may be able to generate enough power to sell some back to the suppliers at a higher price than you would pay!  We are typically pay $0.08 per KwH but with the right system you could sell extra power back to the system for up to $0.54 per KwH!

For builders doing HERS ratings on their homes this will jump the rating by several points or more depending on the size system!  Alternative power sources are key to getting to a zero-energy or passive house level.  We’d be glad to work with any builders that would be interested in pursuing the zero-energy goals!

Solar thermal is another option.  Simply used for heating water or, it can be used for a radiant hydronic system, passive solar heat or better – as a hybrid of both of them!

For more details contact us or watch our future newsletters for more information.

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Builder Tax Credits Expiring Soon

The Federal tax credit for builders is about to expire and looks like it probably won’t be renewed. If you have any energy efficient homes you have built in 2010 or 2011 they may qualify and we can help you get this $2000 tax credit for each home. Contact us for more information. The homes will need to be rated by December 31st to qualify & it takes a day or so to produce the paperwork so schedule soon.  If you have already had a home certified then make sure your tax preparer gets the forms – let us know soon if you need another one.
360-624-5523 or

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Smart Grid & Utility Bills

You likely have heard of the efforts to build a Smart Grid but are not clear what that might mean?  The “smart grid” is an effort to better control & direct power (electricity).  Presently America’s electrical systems are isolated and segmented. So – some regions (for example, the Northeast) has very high demand but lacks ability to produce enough,… other regions (say the Northwest) produces a lot but has a moderate demand.  The smart grid will be able to divert excess power to areas that need it most.  Presently, if we look at the power costs of each region the prices reflect their supply & demand.  The NE pays about $0.14 per kilowatt while the NW is paying about $0.08 per kilowatt.   Thus, here in the NW we have low utility costs but the NE has high utility costs.

Bottom line – when the smart grid is implemented it will loosely level out the costs.  Those paying low utility costs will surely see a spike in their bills.  Logically, those with high utilities would also see a drop in their bills?  Not likely… we rarely see a reduction in costs or taxes.  Besides, how do you think they will pay for the added costs of the smart grid system?   So, here in the NW we should be prepared to see a big jump in our utility costs over the next 5 to 10 years.  This information is all the more reason for us to implement better building practices and energy efficiency measures.

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New Look Rating

New Look Energy Rating

To help our builders and remodelers marketing efforts, the signage and marketing tool for ratings has been redesigned.  This version is much simpler to understand and should require less explanation.  A yard sign is provided for spec & model homes.  PDF or other versions will be available for print or web marketing efforts.  Feedback is welcome!

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EPG for Homes

Sample EPG for Homes

What Builder wouldn’t like to distinguish themselves from the competition  including the fore closure home down the street?  We have an accepted method to put a rating on a home… similar to the MPG for cars, this is the EPG for homes or Energy Performance Guide. Continue reading

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NGBS Scoring Tool Overview (Part B)

This update will cover Chapter 6 of the NGBS standard. The chapter is focused on Resource Efficiency.

Resource efficiency is also about reducing jobsite waste. Creating an effective construction waste management plan and taking advantage of available recycling facilities and markets for recyclable materials, waste can be reduced by at least two-thirds, creating potential cost savings for builders and reducing the burden on landfill space. Continue reading

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NGBS Scoring Tool Overview (Part A)

As discussed, this will go through the NGBS Scoring tool. You’ll be able to get a better understanding over the next several posts as to how the NGBS tools works, some of the technical aspects of entering data, and how best to prepare.

Today, we head through Chapter 5 of the tool. Later, I’ll describe what is in Chapters 1-4, but those are overview chapters with the actual scoring information is in chapters 5-10. This chapter is focused on: Lot Design, Preparation, and Development. The chapter deals with the dirt, the location, and use of the land. You enter information that deals with sustainability and energy topics that should be considered while the property is still in its natural state.

For instance, site design principles such as saving trees, constructing onsite storm water retention/infiltration features, and orienting houses to maximize passive solar heating and cooling are basic processes used in the design and construction of green homes.

Continue reading

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Understanding the National Green Building Standard

Here at Swiftsure Energy Services, we are proud to announce that in addition to ENERGY STAR and RESNet certifications, we are now able to qualify projects using the NGBS Standard published by NAHB. Don’t worry, I’ll explain those terms next.

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has long been committed to setting building standards across the country. In 2008, they developed a standard that incorporates both energy efficiency as well as sustainable practices into one easy to understand process. This process is called the National Green Building Standard (NGBS).

Many builders and remodelers are going green with the help of NAHBGreen. The suite of services was unveiled in February 2008 to provide a comprehensive set of educational resources, advocacy tools, a credible green standard, and referrals to a national green home certification system by the NAHB Research Center, a qualified and independent third party. Collectively, these offerings help home builders anywhere build green.

Continue reading

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