Entries by Heather Rae

Separation Anxiety

When Home Performance with Energy Star launched in Maine in 2006, we defined the energy improvement process as test-in, upgrade, test-out. The parenthetical testing was part and parcel of the process, similar to a physician talking with a patient and running diagnostics to glean what’s going on – before prescribing remedies or lifting a scalpel. […]

Conducting Home Performance

“Home Performance” used to sound like something musically-inclined parents forced their children to do in living rooms. It’s catching on, slowly, for what it really is, and that is tightening up houses – with an ear for proper ventilation, humidity controls and other riffs on indoor air quality, and fuel-efficient climate controls. (There are geographic […]

Gertie Finds a New Home

Gertie is a camper — a “short” bus with a powerful International engine. In 2006, I drove her from Colorado to Maine while chronicling in this blog a quest for biodiesel fuel. This week, Gertie found a new home with the Maine Earth Walk Project. Her owner, the organizer and publicist for Maine Earth Walk, […]

Great Day

One upside to the economic downturn is the influx of finance and technology professional entering the sustainability sector. They are ubiquitous. (“And they are everywhere, too,” as an old friend used to say.) These professionals bring to programmatic endeavors around slow food, climate change, recycling and the myriad elements of sustainability not only valuable expertise, […]

Pressure Drop

In residential building science, the standard (accepted) method for determining air leakage is to depressurize the house, and use an infrared, or thermographic, camera to identify temperature differences of surfaces.  The infrared image — you’ve seen it, all yellow and red and green — makes a dramatic, colorful impression, and is a great tool to […]

SnuggHome Surges Ahead

About ten years ago, my employer was a large investor-owned electric and gas utility in Denver. I was hired to manage the marketing of new energy technologies. Problem was, we didn’t have any new energy technologies. Not really. Our little team of two (plus a consultant) traveled to Minnesota to talk with Honeywell about smart […]

Paving Path to Realistic Energy Modeling

Once upon a time, in a land called Maine, a girl (of a certain age) couldn’t help but wonder, “if you want to reward homeowners for saving energy in their homes, doesn’t it make sense to look at actual energy usage, something that accounts for behavior, as well as structures?” Soon, there were others, too, […]

A Geek’s Dream

The space where energy meets IT is a geek’s dream. Four years ago, about when I took an extended hiatus from blogging for cleantechblog, the available software and hardware options that supported residential energy efficiency were slim, and the solutions, clunky. Home performance and energy rating professionals had paper data collection sheets and time-consuming modeling […]

Ontological Shock

by Heather Raefor cleantechblog.com The term came up over lunch. A group of home energy evaluators convened at King Eider’s pub in Damariscotta. That morning, we had completed filming of an energy evaluation with the film crew from Maine Public Broadcasting Network. We were talking about the future of the country and the economy and […]

The Appraisal

by Heather Rae for cleantechblog.com A homeowner who recently relocated from New Jersey to one of the swishier towns of Maine asked me last week, in the context of his search for a home energy renovator in the State, ‘why is Maine so far behind?’ That same day, a friend delicately offered, in the midst […]

TheFreakOut: Button It Up, A Confession

by Heather Rae Here in Maine, politicos making hay of rising (and now dipping fuel) costs are calling for troops of weatherization crews to be unleashed into the homes of the state’s neediest residents. This initiative is not “low-income weatherization” which services the poorest, but an attempt to button up the homes of the next […]


by Heather Rae Installment 1: Fuel Switching Mounds of firewood dot the backroads of Maine, like warts on a toad. This old house will make use of the large maple that fell on my husband’s land; it’s mostly cut into mis-shapen hunks that will fit into the old leaky Home Atlantic wood stove that commands […]

Staying Warm, One Radio Show at a Time

Strategies for Staying Warm This Winter,A Call-in Program on Maine Public Broadcasting Network Radio “On Friday, August 29th, MPBN News & Public Affairs Director Keith Shortall spoke with two energy experts, Dan Thayer and Heather Rae, about home heating issues and tips. They took calls from listeners with questions and concerns about home heating issues. […]

My aura is…

by Heather Raefor cleantechblog.com One of three dealers of Benjamin Moore paint in my travel distance (which is getting shorter and shorter with the increase in gas prices) carries the new Aura line, as well as the EcoSpec low-voc line of paints.Farther north, along Route 1, another dealer is weighing the costs of the investment […]

The Compromised Kitchen

by Heather Raefor cleantechblog.com The dry wall was hung last week and the mudding of the new kitchen has begun. A cloud of compromise hangs over each step in attempting to make this renovation “green;” the kitchen is no exception. The stud cavities of the gutted space received a spraying of two-part foam, not the […]

Clothing, optional

by Heather RaeThe Richmond Saunas in rural Richmond Corners, Maine — about 40 minutes up Route 295 from Portland — are heated by wood. In the corner of each sauna, private and communal, stands a wood burning stove and a cauldron of water which is used to douse the cairn of rocks sitting atop the […]

Taking Control

by Heather Rae Maine Congressman Tom Allen hopes to dislodge Senator Susan Collins from her Senatorial seat. Allen spoke a few weeks back at an event sponsored by the Hydrogen Energy Center and other energy-oriented organizations at the Frontier Cafe in Brunswick. Allen said that without the right kind of leadership in the executive office, […]

Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters

Bob Metcalfe is a friendly, handsome, easy-going sort, and he sported a bit of Saturday stubble when we spoke over a Thai lunch in Boston a few weeks back. Bob, an MIT grad who wears the school ring, is also the founder of 3-Com and the interim CEO of a biofuel startup, GreenFuel. Over lunch […]

Blue Iris, Better than Green

by Heather Raefor cleantechblog.com Fashion faddies may take note of Pantone’s color of the year, Blue Iris (No. 18-3943). I’ll be using it in my new logo not because it’s hip, but because I admire its qualities. Pantone’s Leatrice Eiseman stated, “Blue Iris brings together the dependable aspects of blue, underscored by a strong, soul-searching […]

Clean, Green & Pristine…

by Heather Rae for cleantechblog.com The binder of information at our honeymoon cottage, Pink Sand, in North Palmetto Point, Eleuthera Island, Bahamas, reads (verbatim): “Some do’s and Don’ts1. Please Conserve Water as all our water is from rain that is collected from the gutters and placed in our Cistern that is under the Cottage.2. Please […]