This article was originally published in the January/February 1998 issue of Home Energy Magazine. Some formatting inconsistencies may be evident in older archive content.
Home Energy Magazine Online January/February 1998
Wimpy A/C Standards Signed. In 1994, the Department of Energy infuriated air conditioner manufacturers by proposing a challenging new energy efficiency standard for air conditioning equipment. The proposed standard was supported by some utilities, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. The requirements have been weakened dramatically in the final rule, to go into effect in October 2000.
The proposed rules would have pushed minimum Energy Efficiency Ratings (EERs) as high as 11.1 for some types of air conditioner, approaching the maximum technically feasible EER of 12.8. The final rule, however, prescribes minimum EERs between 8.5 and 9.7, depending on the design. The standard was weakened when manufacturers showed that more efficient devices would have higher first costs, resulting in disproportionate hardship for people with below-average incomes. Energy and Housing Report, September 1997. Allan L. Frank Associates, 9124 Bradford Road, Silver Spring, MD 20901-4918. Tel: (301)565-2532; Fax:(301) 565-3298.
Superefficient Everything! In the past, the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE) pushed superefficient refrigerators. In a new step, they are now pushing superefficient appliances. So far, their new support is for room air conditioners and dishwashers; in the future, it may include clothes washers, water heaters, and even windows. CEE is urging utilities to join the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy's Energy Star Appliance program, promoting efficiency to retail sales staff, and advocating to the Federal Trade Commission for a more exacting EnergyGuide label. Contact CEE, 1 State St., Suite 1400, Boston, MA 02109. Tel:(617)589-3949, Ext. 207; Fax:(617)589-3948. Technologies for Utility Success, August 1997. Cutter Information Corporation, 37 Broadway, Suite 1, Arlington, MA 02174-5552. Tel:(800)964-5118; Fax:(800)888-1816; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guaranteed Energy Ratings. In the past, consumers may have had reason to doubt the energy cost estimates included in home energy ratings (see Home Energy Ratings Systems: Actual Usage May Vary, HE, Sep/Oct '97, p. 21). But now, Energy Rated Homes of Vermont (ERHV) is guaranteeing the fuel savings for the homes they give four or more stars. ERHV has surveyed 3,300 homes they have rated, and has found that actual energy consumption correlates well with projections--well enough that the agency is now putting money on it. Under the guarantee, if heating costs are more than 25% above the predicted level, ERHV will pick up the difference.
Since the biggest variable in home energy use is the occupant, the guarantee has conditions that attempt to prevent wasteful behavior. For example, homeowners must maintain the mechanical systems well, including changing furnace filters, and they can't have a thermostat setpoint above 70°F. For more information contact Richard Faesy, Energy Rated Homes of Vermont, at (802)865-3926, Ext. 16, or e-mail email@example.com. Resnet Notes, September 26, 1997. 12350 Old Seward Hwy., Suite 208, Anchorage, AK 99515. Tel:(907)345-1930; Fax:(907)345-0540; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Just When You Thought You'd Learned the Acronyms ... Heat pump manufacturer Nordyne has created two new ratings for all combined space heater/ water heater heat pumps. While seasonal energy efficiency ratios (SEERs) and heating season performance factors (HSPFs) are the most widely used ratings for whole-house heat pumps, manufacturers of water-heating heat pumps have never been satisfied with the ratings (see Air-to-Water Heat Pumps for the Home, HE July/Aug '97, p. 15). That's why Nordyne has developed the combined cooling performance factor (CCPF) and combined heating performance factor (CHPF). CCPF equals cooling supplied to the house plus heat supplied to the domestic hot water (in British thermal units--Btu) divided by energy consumed in watt-hours (Wh). One Nordyne system has a CCPF of 9.6 and a CHPF of 6.7. No other manufacturer is yet using these ratings, but the Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute has accepted the ratings as a standard. Popular Science, September 1997. 2 Park Ave., New York, NY 10016. Fax:(212) 481-8062; E-mail: email@example.com.
Fuzzy Standards. Adaptive control. Fuzzy logic. These microprocessor-based controls for dishwashers can save energy, but maybe not as much energy as the current Department of Energy (DOE) standards make it seem. Advanced dishwashers use less energy and water by sensing how dirty the dishes are. Under the current test procedure, dishwashers are run with clean dishes, giving the advanced machines an unfair advantage. Recent tests at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) show advanced machines using only 1.5 kWh per cycle, much better than the 2.27 kWh for a conventional model. NIST hopes to develop a more accurate test procedure, but the agency lacks funding. Technologies for Utility Success, September 1997. Cutter Information Corporation, 37 Broadway, Suite 1, Arlington, MA 02174-5552. Tel: (800)964-5118; Fax: (800)888-1816; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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