This article was originally published in the May/June 1997 issue of Home Energy Magazine. Some formatting inconsistencies may be evident in older archive content.


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Home Energy Magazine Online May/June 1997

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Efficiency Going Mobile. Cavco Industries of Phoenix, Arizona, has developed a new line of energy-efficient manufactured homes. According to independent energy modeling, the new homes can expect 70%-75% reductions in site energy use compared to Cavco's standard homes. Last year, Cavco produced about five thousand 1,000- to 2,400-square foot homes, ranging in price from $30,000 to $70,000. Energy-saving features in the new line include enhanced insulation, fixtures designed for compact fluorescent lamps, double-glazed windows, and efficient appliances. Ducts are one-piece aluminum structures built at the factory; Cavco reports that crossovers have had no problems. The energy improvements added between $1,500 and $3,500 to the baseline cost. The homes are also designed to work with off-the-grid photo-voltaic systems of under 2 kW. ?kchnologies for Energy Management, January 1997. 37 Broadway, Suite 1, Arlington, MA 02174-5552. Phone: (617) 641-5118 or (800)964-5118; Fax: (617) 648-1950.

Filtering the Filters. Until recently, HVAC filters have been hard to compare, as there were no reliable measures available to evaluate performance over time. ASHRAE Standard 52.2 now gives consumers information they can count on. The new test measures efficiency on filters that are new, partly dirty, and fully loaded with dust. Unlike previous test procedures that have relied on atmospheric dust, Standard 52.2 mandates the use of an aerosol dust with known characteristics. This feature will increase the accuracy and reliability of results, possibly increasing the popularity of high-efficiency filters. Traditional disposable furnace filters---which exist to protect the furnace, rather than the occupants--don't even receive the lowest rating on the new test. Energy Design Update, January 1997. 235 W 102nd St., Suite 7J, New York, NY 10025. Phone: (212) 662-7428; Fax: (212) 662-0039.

Do-Net-Yourself Energy Auditing.  Utilities recently started offering ratepayers sophisticated energy auditing software via the Inter-net. For example, customers of Chicago's Commonwealth Edison can access their electric bills on the Web and receive a fairly accurate disaggregation of energy consumption by end use. Similarly, customers of Central and South West, a Dallas-based utility can access their electric bills on line. When they input their gas use, the computer combines the information and provides a rough disaggregation. A more comprehensive energy audit is available through Electrotek's Residential Energy Bill Analyzer, which no utilities yet offer their customers. This program gives users access to energy bills and asks for more in-depth information. Users type in how their home is built, their lifestyle, and what appliances they own. Based on this information, the software uses algorithms from Oak Ridge National Laboratory to disaggregate the energy use. Along with the detailed bill breakdown, all of the programs give users generic tips on how to conserve energy. Technologies for Energy Management, November 1996. 37 Broadway, Suite 1, Arlington, MA 02174-5552. Phone: (617)641-5118 or (800) 964-5118; Fax: (617) 648-1950.

The Heat Pumps Are Coming! Connecticut's Northeast Utilities is in the process of installing 2,600 subsidized air source heat pump water heaters. The heat pumps are predicted to reduce household water heating energy by 50%. To qualify for Northeast's program, a home must have at least three residents and must use an electric resistance water heater. The existing water heater must have at least a 50-gallon capacity, must be easily accessible in an area of the house that is not electrically heated, and must be in good working condition. To help with the last requirement, Northeast Utilities is willing to provide new 80-gallon glass-lined tanks at cost. The utility will pay about $850 of the installation cost, leaving the customer to pay about $1,500. Technologies for Energy Management, February 1997. 37 Broadway, Suite 1, Arlington, MA 02174-5552. Phone:(617)641-5118 or (800)964-5118; Fax:(617) 648-1950.

Polyiso Sheathing--Cheap and Efficient. Polyisocyanurate house sheathing is known for its excellent insulating ability. But it has been faulted for its high price. However, according to the Polyisocyanu-rate Insulation Manufacturers Association, polyiso sheathing saves both operating costs (by cutting heating and cooling bills) and construction costs (by reducing the use of wood). Wood use can be reduced without reducing thermal performance, as a house that would have needed 2 x 6 walls to accommodate adequate batt insulation can sometimes use insulated 2 x 4 walls and polyiso sheathing. Energy and Housing Report, January 1997. Allan L. Frank Associates, 9124 Bradford Road, Silver Spring, MD 20901-4918. Phone: (301)565-2532; Fax: (301) 565-3298.

Basement Efficiency Wins in Iowa. The Home Builders Association of Iowa recently petitioned that state's Building Code Advisory Council to eliminate the statewide requirement for basement insulation. The petition led to a vigorous debate in which the existing energy code was supported by academics, utilities, Habitat for Humanity, independent home builders, and the state Association of Building Officials. The change was supported by the secretary of state, Des Moines area building officials, and the Iowa Home Builders Association. Following arguments about home buyer choice, cost, builder flexibility, and big government, the Code Advisory Council voted four to one to keep the basement insulation requirement. Press release from Building Codes Assistance Project, 1200 18th St. NW, Suite 900, Washington, DC 20036. Phone:(202)530-2221; Fax: (202) 331-9588.

Air Conditioners Sprout Like Mushrooms. In 1996, manufacturers shipped over 5.7 million central air conditioners and heat pumps, an 11% increase over 1995 sales. According to the U.S. Commerce Department, air conditioning is now included in 80% of new residential construction, including 81% of multifam-ily and 74% of manufactured homes. Projections for the next five years predict that almost half of all new housing will be built in the South, and that about 98% of these units will have air conditioning. Press release from Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute, 4301 N Fairfax Dr., Suite 425, Arlington, VA 22203. Phone:(703) 524-8800; Fax: (703) 528-3816.


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