Progress in Florida
June 08, 2006
A version of this article appears in the Hurricane Season 2006 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
Progress Energy Florida is committed to finding cleaner and more efficient ways to generate electricity. That commitment extends to the exploration of alternative energies in research projects such as a current trial of a hydrogen fuel cell at a Largo, Florida, nursing home that will provide hallway and safety lighting for the facility if hurricanes or other emergencies interrupt power. Until such projects one day yield practical and cost-effective results, Progress Energy Florida focuses on helping customers save money by making their homes as energy efficient as possible. That’s why the electric utility, which serves 35 counties throughout central and north Florida, partners with local builders to enhance the efficiency of new homes through its Home Advantage program.
Home Advantage is a comprehensive, cooperative program that not only provides builders incentives to construct energy-efficient homes, but also distinguishes their properties from others in the market.Home Advantage is designed to improve energy efficiency in the following three new construction segments: residential site-built homes,manufactured homes, and multifamily homes.
Through the program, builders receive cash incentives directly from Progress Energy for installing qualifying heat pumps, upgraded levels of insulation, or high-performance windows. Some of these homes can qualify for EPA’s Energy Star designation with guidance from Progress Energy. Builders also receive free promotional materials, such as yard signs, that target prospective new clients. Plus, they have the support of Progress Energy’s Home Advantage consumer advertising and promotional campaign.
Builders select from three levels of participation. At the entry level, they are installing electric heat pumps and centrally ducted systems with mastic.At the upper levels, they qualify for incentives ranging from $100 to $350 per home, depending on the efficiency of the heat pump installed, the R-factor of insulation, and/or the solar heat gain of the windows.
The three levels of the Home Advantage program are detailed below.
Level One—Home Advantage Energy Saver Homes
The heating source is an all-electric heat pump. The builder must agree to construct air-conditioning ducts using a mastic sealant on all connections and joints.This ensures the new home has a relatively tight system that won’t waste energy through air leakage.
Level Two—Home Advantage Energy Saver Plus Homes
In addition to sealing the duct system with mastic, the builder must install high-efficiency heating and cooling systems.New homes must have either R-30 attic insulation or R-19 with radiant barrier, or ductwork designed using the Air Conditioning Contractors Association (ACCA) Manual D calculation so the right amount of conditioned air is delivered to each room. Home Advantage program coordinators can provide efficiency requirements and recommendations.
Minimum standards are:
• a SEER of 14/heating season performance factor of 7.8 ($100 per system installed);
• a SEER of 16/heating season performance factor of 8.1 ($300 per system installed); and
• high-performance windows—windows must be labeled by the National Fenestration Rating Council with a solar heat gain coefficient of less than or equal to 0.50 and a U-factor of less than or equal to 0.75.
Level Three—Home Advantage Premium Energy Saver/Energy Star Homes
The home must be at least 15% more efficient than the 2006 Florida Energy Code, while maintaining or improving indoor air quality and comfort—one of the highest standards in new home energy efficiency.Also,buyers could qualify for an energy-efficient mortgage by installing high-efficiency equipment as part of the Energy Star program. Builders who have partnered with Progress Energy and EPA have pledged that they are committed to energy-efficient design and delivering energy-saving homes that cost less to own and operate.
“Our industry, overall, is taking on a greater role in environmental protection,” says Boris W. Diaz, professional building designer for Masterpiece Homes—one of the builders of Home Advantage Premium Energy Saver/Energy Star Homes.
“Customers expect it, and Masterpiece Homes is committed to doing what we can to help the healing process of our environment, world, and way of living,” Diaz says.“Our partnership with Progress Energy and Energy Star clearly conveys this to our customers; plus, our customers benefit in so many ways, both tangible— like lower electric bills—and intangible— a better world for their children.There is no downside to this program.”
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