Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Extech Awards Scholarships to Waltham High School Seniors

Waltham, MAJune 5, 2010

Extech Instruments is pleased to announce we have awarded two scholarships to class of 2010 seniors at Waltham High School. The two graduating seniors received the Extech Instruments Award Scholarship which is presented to outstanding students in the Vocational Electronics and Electrical programs. This year’s recipients are Nicholas Benoit (electronics studies) and Peter Dennison (electrical studies). Each student also received an Extech EX505 Industrial Multimeter and IR250 Laser Infrared Thermometer. The awards were presented at the high school’s scholarship and awards night held Thursday, June 3rd at 7:00 p.m.

Award Recipients N. Benoit and P. Dennison
Award Recipients N. Benoit and P. Dennison
Arpineh Mullaney, Extech vice president spoke about the awards, “As part of the FLIR Systems family, Extech has been able to support a number of local programs with a Waltham-based giving program. We’re pleased to once again include our scholarship program at Waltham High School among the recipients. At Extech, we recognize the growing urgency for training young men and women in the United States to pursue studies in the electrical and electronics fields. We hope that our scholarships not only aid Mr. Benoit and Mr. Dennison in achieving their studies but also serve to recognize their success as students at Waltham High School. We wish them the best of luck in their studies and professional pursuits.”
As part of the FLIR mission, FLIR believes that it is our responsibility to support our countries and our communities. In addition to our Corporate Charitable Giving Program, each of our locations supports various local community initiatives as well as contributes to national and international disaster relief efforts. It is another way we make a difference in our world.
About Extech Instruments, a FLIR Company
Extech Instruments is recognized as the source for the best handheld test and measurement tools worldwide. Founded in 1971, Extech is known for its depth and breadth of innovative testers and meters suited for electrical, HVAC, building/restoration, as well as a host of environmental testers for measurement of sound, light, humidity and other factors. All Extech meters are distributed worldwide through leading representatives, distributors and OEMs. The company is headquartered in Waltham, Massachusetts, USA and is ISO 9001 2000 certified. Extech is a wholly owned subsidiary of FLIR Systems, Inc.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Extech Dissolved Oxygen Meters Used by EPA in Oil Spill Monitoring

Waltham, MA – Extech Instruments (www.extech.com/instruments), makers of the world’s best test and measurement tools, announced today that Extech dissolved oxygen meters are being employed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The EPA is using the Extech meters to monitor the effectiveness of oil dispersants being used underwater to manage the oil that is continuing to leak from the damaged Deepwater Horizon wellhead located on the seafloor of the Gulf of Mexico seafloor.

According to the EPA website, www.epa.gov, “When this crisis occurred, Coast Guard and EPA granted BP [British Petroleum] authorization to use an approved dispersant on oil present on the surface of the water in an effort mitigate the impact of the spill.” Then, the EPA and the U.S. Coast Guard authorized BP to use dispersants underwater, at the source of the Deepwater Horizon leak. Preliminary testing results indicate that subsurface use of the dispersant is effective at reducing the amount of oil from reaching the surface – and can do so with the use of less dispersant than is needed when the oil does reach the surface.

Concerned about the potential adverse effects of dispersant use below the surface, the EPA enacted an aggressive dispersant monitoring plan to be implemented by BP and that findings are routinely and carefully analyzed to ensure toxicity data is collected that may indicate any significant effects on aquatic life in the region. The good news so far is that the decreased size of the oil droplets is a good indication that, so far, the dispersant is effective.

An important parameter of these subsurface water quality studies is the monitoring of dissolved oxygen levels. Dissolved oxygen (DO) analysis measures the amount of gaseous oxygen (O2) dissolved in the water. Adequate dissolved oxygen is necessary for good water quality that is conducive to marine life. Normal ranges for DO in the Gulf area are 4 milligrams per liter (mg/l). The lower the concentration of dissolved oxygen, the greater the stress is on aquatic life. The evaluation criteria to determine further use of subsea dispersant include DO levels that are less than 2mg/l and the results of toxicity tests.

Concern initially arose when dissolved oxygen levels appeared low when first measured with one device. Fueled by the need to corroborate these findings, the EPA used an Extech dissolved oxygen meter for increased accuracy. According to the EPA, “In order to conduct a more thorough analysis, more sensitive equipment was then employed, called an Extech Probe. The subsequent dissolved oxygen readings from the Extech Probe indicate that dissolved oxygen levels are within the normal range.” So far, using the Extech dissolved oxygen meter, DO measurements continue to remain in the normal range. Read the EPA’s coverage for additional details. http://www.epa.gov/bpspill/dispersants.html#bpdata

Findings related to dissolved oxygen, water conductivity and temperature, oil droplet size, and other physical characteristics will serve as indicators of the effectiveness of BP’s efforts to manage the oil spill using
dispersants. If any negative impacts on the environment or public health are identified, the EPA can use that data to direct BP to discontinue the use of this dispersant method.

Extech Instruments offers a range of handheld, easy to use meters for the measurement of a variety of metrics related to water quality. In addition to Dissolved Oxygen Meters like the ones used by the Environmental Protection Agency, Extech also provides over 25 accurate, affordable, and durable meters and test kits that measure chlorine, conductivity, fluoride, and more.


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Energy Star Fraud - Beware, Applicable to Homes Too

A new report from the auditing arm of Congress shows that the federal Energy Star program has a sloppy certification process that can be easily abused.

The 18-year-old program, which is administered jointly by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy, offers consumers rebates and tax credits on appliances that meet certain standards for energy efficiency. American consumers, businesses, and federal agencies rely on the Energy Star program to identify products that decrease greenhouse emissions and lower energy costs. Companies use Energy Star certification to market their products to consumers in the hopes they will buy products based on government certification of their energy consumption and costs.

Given the millions of dollars allocated to encourage use of Energy Star products and concerns that the Energy Star program is vulnerable to fraud and abuse, GAO was asked to conduct proactive testing to (1) obtain Energy Star partnership status for bogus companies and (2) submit fictitious products for Energy Star certification. To perform this investigation, GAO used four bogus manufacturing firms and fictitious individuals to apply for Energy Star partnership and submitted 20 fictitious products with fake energy-savings claims for Energy Star certification. GAO also reviewed program documents and interviewed agency officials and officials from agency Inspector General (IG) offices.

But in a report issued today, the Government Accountability Office says its auditors obtained Energy Star certifications for 15 of 20 products it submitted using fictitious companies and individuals. Those certifications led to requests from real companies to buy some products because they had received Energy Star endorsements.

The phony products included a gasoline-powered alarm clock, which was approved by Energy Star without a review of the company web site or questions about the efficiency claimed for it. Auditors also submitted a geothermal heat pump, which they claimed to be more efficient than any product listed as certified on the Energy Star Web site. The product was certified and its efficiency data was not questioned. Two bogus products were rejected by the program and 3 did not receive a response. One of the products that an outside company wanted to buy was a computer monitor that had been approved by Energy Star within 30 minutes of submission.

This clearly shows how heavily American consumers rely on the Energy Star brand.

At briefings on GAO's investigation, DOE and EPA officials agreed that the program is currently based on self-certifications by manufacturers. However, officials stated there are after-market tests and self-policing that ensure standards are maintained. GAO did not test or evaluate controls related to products that were already certified and available to the public. In addition, prior DOE IG, EPA IG, and GAO reports have found that current Energy Star controls do not ensure products meet efficiency guidelines.

In 2008 Energy Star reported saving consumers $19 billion dollars on utility costs. Energy Star is slated to receive about $300 million in federal stimulus money to be used for state rebate programs on energy-efficient products.

Energy Star fraud not only affects products, but your house. Many homes are Energy Star “approved”, while a quick thermal scan can determine whether the house is, in fact, energy efficient. As a licensed home inspector, I have come across many homes that were “Energy Star compliant” but consistently had gaps of missing insulation among other problems with air leaks, thermal barriers, duct issues and other energy efficient problems. Beware of an Energy Star rated home, get an infrared energy audit before investing in a property.

Below are some sample pictures of mine from home inspections of Energy Star approved houses:

Monday, March 29, 2010

"Home Star" Program to Plug Home Energy Retrofits

(re-published from CNET news, Isaac Savage)

You heard of Cash for Clunkers, get ready for Cash for Caulkers, a proposed multibillion program designed to create jobs and give homeowners lower energy bills.

Representatives from building efficiency advocacy groups on Friday held a “Webinar” to outline the Home Star program–nicknamed Cash for Caulkers–and said that its prospects for becoming a law should be known within several weeks. A Home Star Coalition has been formed, which includes large retailers Home Depot and Lowes, equipment suppliers such as Dow and GE appliances, along with energy-efficiency contractors, labor groups, and environmental advocacy groups.

For homeowners, the proposed legislation provides incentives to weatherize homes, through the the inspection of an energy audit, and upgrade to more efficient lighting or heating and cooling systems. Another part of a comprehensive energy audit is a blower door test, which measures how air tight a home is by measuring air flow at a given air pressure.

It will be structured on two levels; silver and gold – depending on the level of investment made, said Matt Golden, the chair of the EfficiencyFirst advocacy group.

To get up to $2,000 in tax credits for an energy efficiency retrofit, a homeowner needs to do at least two approved improvements and work with contractors that meet certain “basic standards,” said Golden, adding that Home Star is designed to fit with the EPA’s Home Performance EnergyStar standards and state programs.

The gold level involves having a building’s energy “performance” rated by contractors accredited by the Building Performance Institute. The more stringent performance goals, which could reduce a building’s energy consumption of 20 percent, would be eligible for up to $4,000 of tax credits, according to the description on the EfficiencyFirst Web site.

The intent of Home Star is to create jobs in the short term, either through training or creating demand for home efficiency products and services. But given the amount of money being discussed and its standards-based approach, Home Star has the potential to be “transformative” in the building efficiency industry, Golden said. “This is a moment in time where we are going to have a foundation to drive a strong industry,” he said.

President Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, which includes venture capitalist and green-tech investor John Doerr, has endorsed the plan as it meets economic and environmental goals, Golden noted. There’s also the potential to create demand for green building products. Among some of Home Star Coalition members is Serious Materials, a Silicon Valley company that makes energy-efficiency building products including windows and sheet rock that’s manufactured in a relatively low-polluting way.

Golden cautioned that Home Star is not yet law. But it does have clear support from President Obama, who has touted the benefits of home weatherization many times and called insulation “sexy” during a Home Depot visit last month.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

New i Series of Extech Infrared Cameras