This article was originally published in the September/October 1995 issue of Home Energy Magazine. Some formatting inconsistencies may be evident in older archive content.



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Home Energy Magazine Online September/October 1995


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Insulation for Concrete Blocks. Exterior Insulation and Finish Services has developed a rigid 11/2-in thick expanded polystyrene insulation panel that can be applied to the exterior of concrete block structures and then covered with a coat of stucco. Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) tested the insulation on eight single-family homes in Phoenix, Arizona, and found that the retrofit resulted in an average reduction of air conditioner electricity use of 9%-10%. ORNL estimated a savings of 1% for similar homes in Florida, using DOE 2.1D energy simulation software, while the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) estimated the savings to be about 6%, using the same simulation with different assumptions. FSEC and ORNL, also conducted a field test in Florida on two homes, with their thermostats set at 74deg.F and 79deg.F. The savings for the first site were 9%-12%, while those at the second site ranged from -1% to -5%, suggesting that significant savings result only when occupants prefer indoor temperatures of 74deg.F or lower. BDAC Energy Files, Vol. 3, No. 1, 1995. Building Design Assistance Center, 300 State Road 401, Cape Canaveral, FL 32920. Tel/Fax: (407)783-2571.

More Energy Star Products. The EPA's Energy Star label will be appearing on a new array of products that meet target efficiency levels, since the EPA has formed six partnerships with manufacturers of furnaces, air source heat pumps and air conditioners, geothermal heat pumps, and gas-fired heat pumps. Furnaces that qualify for the Energy Star logo are 90% efficient and can cost as little as $525 annually to operate, compared to an average $732 annual bill (derived from the 1993 American Gas Association Survey of the Mid-Atlantic Region). Energy Star geothermal heat pumps have water heating capabilities, and may reduce water-heating bills by 20%-60%, according to the EPA. An electric-resistance furnace and electric air conditioner can cost $2,500 a year to operate, a typical heat pump slightly under $2,000, and a new heat pump $1,600. Yet the annual cost for an Energy Star geothermal heat pump would be a tad over $1,000. Energy and Housing Report, April 1995. 9124 Bradford Road, Silver Spring, MD 20901. Tel:(301)565-2532; Fax:(301)565-3298.

Publicity for EEMs. Energy-efficient mortgages (EEMs) have been around for over a decade, but a lot of home buyers still don't know about them. The California Energy Commission is working to generate greater demand for EEMs by doing outreach in several areas. It will begin by soliciting the support of executives at mortgage lending and real estate companies. Then the Commission will fund training for those who process energy-efficient mortgage loans, develop a correspondence course on the mortgages with the California Association of Realtors, and inform the public about them at first-time home buyer seminars. Training will also be provided for energy retrofitters and weatherization workers with help from the Air Conditioning Trade Association and the Insulation Contractors Association. Conservation Update, March 1995. Kentucky Division of Energy, 691 Teton Tr., Frankfort, KY 40601. Tel:(502)564-7192; Fax:(502)564-7484.

RESNET Seeks to Develop HERS Nationwide.In the hope of increasing the number of Home Energy Rating Systems (HERS) and EEMs beyond the 16 states that currently have them, a network of state energy offices, HERS, state weatherization offices, and state housing finance agencies has been established by National Association of State Energy Officials and Energy Rated Homes of America. Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) aims to develop a national market for EEMs, create a forum for developing HERS programs to consult with preestablished ones, provide technical assistance to states developing HERS, and inform its members about national issues in this field. Energy and Housing Report, May 1995. 9124 Bradford Road, Silver Spring, MD 20901. Tel:(301)565-2532; Fax:(301)565-3298.

CFLs Get Dimmer. A ballast allowing any fluorescent bulb to be dimmed to 10% of its original brightness without flickering is now available from CSL Lighting Manufacturing. The dimmer has been a long time coming. Invented by C.R. Stevens and William Alling in 1981, it remained hostage to the company that bought the patent for it, Universal Manufacturing Corporation, until the inventors filed a lawsuit last year. After winning $96 million and the rights to their invention in a federal court, the inventors sold the patent to CSL, whose line of residential and commercial fixtures uses a GE-produced compact fluorescent bulb. The ballast will cost $10 more than the typical CSL fixture. The Journal of Light Construction, June 1995. RR 2, Box 146, Richmond, VT 05477. Tel:(802)434-4747; Fax:(802)434-4467.

CO Detectors Not Created Equal. A Consumer Reports article rating carbon monoxide (CO) detectors deemed the Nighthawk 2000 superior to 11 other models tested. CR looked at eight plug-in units, which heat a metal-oxide sensor that reacts with CO, and three battery-powered units, which use a translucent disk that darkens on exposure to CO, a change that is noted by an infrared sensor. The plug-in units generally scored higher in the response to CO category, with the Nighthawk getting the highest marks because it has an LED display offering up-to-the-minute assessments of CO levels. Other recommended models include the Enzone Air-Zone II, Pama GHD-2010, S-Tech COAH-2, and Radio Shack 49-463. Two models to be avoided are the Argus II Protector and the Macurco CM-11, which failed to sound even when bathed in CO. Consumer Reports, July 1995. 101 Truman Ave., Yonkers, NY 10703. Tel:(914)378-2000; (800)288-7898.

Occupants Need Less Fresh Air? ASHRAE's Standard 62,Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality, may soon be returned from the current outdoor-air ventilation rate of 20 cubic feet per minute (cfm) per person to the 1981 rate of 5 cfm per person, in situations where the intent is to satisfy only the occupants of, rather than visitors to, a given space. The revised standard will recommend that the CO2 level be maintained at no more than 650-700 parts per million (ppm) above the level outdoors. But this may be changed to allow for a CO2 level of 2,000 ppm above outdoor concentration in areas with occupants but no visitors. Those favoring the revised standard argue that indoor air acceptability is strongly tied to occupant perception, but this view has not yet been documented. Indoor Air Quality Update, January 1995. P.O. Box 129, Center Stratford, NH 03815-0129. Tel:(603)664-6942; Fax:(603)664-6947.

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