This article was originally published in the July/August 1998 issue of Home Energy Magazine. Some formatting inconsistencies may be evident in older archive content.


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Home Energy Magazine Online July/August 1998


Filling In the Gap. Hoping to learn more about potential health hazards related to installing cellulose insulation, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is conducting a one-year study. The agency will recruit 15 to 20 insulation contractor guinea pigs from various parts of the United States and assess the installers' exposure. Cellulose manufacturers and installers should benefit greatly from the study, as there are no specific standards for exposure to cellulose and little research in this area has been done. Cellulose contractors interested in participating in the study can contact Robert McCleery, NIOSH, 4676 Columbia Parkway, R-11, Cincinnati, OH 45226. Tel:(513)841-4112; E-mail: Energy Design Update, March 1998, Cutter Information Corporation, 37 Broadway, Suite 1, Arlington, MA 02174-5552. Tel: (800) 964-5118; Fax:(800)888-1816; E-mail:; Web site:

An Efficient Move? Does the advent of a smaller federal government and utility deregulation spell doom for utility energy efficiency programs? At a minimum, the trend is toward lower funding for these programs across the country; in the Northwest, the trend continues. The federal power marketing agency for the area is the Bonneville Power Administration. It sells roughly half the electricity in the region and controls about 85% of the power transmission system. The agency is looking to cut costs for its fiscal years 2002-2006, and high on its cost-cutting list are energy conservation programs. In order to compete more effectively with new competitors arising from deregulation, Bonneville is hoping either to have energy efficiency products and services pay for themselves, to have the states take over the programs, or to have the states require all power providers to offer energy-efficient programs. Bonneville is attempting to honor its previous commitments to energy conservation, but its core business strategy will no longer include development of new renewable resources or additional related research. The recommendations are expected to be accepted or rejected by July. Bulletin, April 1998. Northwest Power Planning Council, 851 SW Sixth Ave., Suite 1100, Portland, OR 97204-1348. Tel:(800)222-3355; Fax:(503)795-3370; Web site:

The Spin on Energy Guide Labels. Sophisticated new dishwashers may use more energy than what the Energy Guide stickers say they do, according to Consumer Reports. The new dishwashers claim to save energy by using water more judiciously. But the federal government's labels, which supposedly show a typical annual energy bill, may underestimate the real cost of running the machines because the machines are smart and can tell just how dirty those dishes really are. Tests for the EnergyGuide call for dishwashers to be loaded with clean dishes, but smart models have a dirt sensor that adjusts the water level accordingly. With dirty dishes, the washers will use more hot water. More hot water use means more energy use, which in turn may increase the machine's true running cost by $20 or more per year. A spokesperson for the Department of Energy said that work is under way to solve the problem. Consumer Reports, March 1998. Consumers Union, 101 Truman Ave., Yonkers, NY 10703-1057. Tel:(914)378-2000; Web site:

No More Tin Shacks. There are many kinds of outdoor water heaters. One is an indoor gas-fired tank people put outdoors. Another is a gas-fired heat exchanger that heats water and pumps it into an indoor storage tank (see Take It Outside: Water Heaters Get Fired Up, HE Nov/Dec '96, p. 9). And, of course, there is rooftop solar thermal. Now, American Water Heater has designed an outdoor gas water heater. The 50-gallon Weather-Pro does not need a separate enclosure, and an internally balanced flue eliminates the need for a chimney. The unit is touted as saving valuable living space and easing installation by making it unnecessary to cut through roofs and walls to install vent pipes and gas lines. It has an input rate of 50,000 Btu per hour (compared to 15,000 Btu per hour for standard residential electric water heaters) and has been certified by the American Gas Association after more than two years of field testing. However, space considerations would have to be the main reason to buy a Weather-Pro: its efficiency is only 55%. From a Gas Research Institute news release. Contact Mike Szeremet, GRI, 8600 W Bryn Mawr Ave., Chicago, IL 60631-3562. Tel:(773)399-8124; E-mail:

A Not-So Baffling Study. There has been some controversy over whether ridge vents should have baffles on the outside or on the inside, or whether baffles matter at all. The big question is whether any of them create the negative pressure necessary to draw excess heat and moisture out of an attic. Air Vent Incorporated (a maker of externally baffled ridge vents) contracted with the University of Illinois to test five ridge vents. They tested molded, rolled, and corrugated vents to ASHRAE standards. The results--verified by ASHRAE--showed that all externally baffled systems produced the requisite negative air pressure. The systems that had internal baffles or no baffles at all--the rolled and corrugated styles--failed to create a negative air pressure in the test attic. In fact, they created a slight positive pressure, meaning air was being blown into the attic. Ridge Vent Airflow Performance Tests Conducted at the University of Illinois is free from Air Vent Incorporated, 3000 W Commerce St., Dallas TX, 75212. Tel:(800)247-8368. Web site:

Certified Window Installers. Last issue, we reported on Canada's new certification program for window installers. Now, a similar program is being developed inthe United States. The Building Environment and Thermal Envelope Council (BETEC) and the American Architectural Manufacturers Association (AAMA) have funding and plans to have the program operational within two years. Update, Winter 1998. BETEC, 1090 Vermont Ave. NW, 7th Fl, Washington, DC 20005-4905. Tel:(202)289-7800; Fax:(202)289-1092; E-mail:; Web site:


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