New and Notable

May 01, 2013
May/June 2013
A version of this article appears in the May/June 2013 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
Click here to read more articles about New and Notable

Northwest Residential Energy Study Reveals Home Energy Usage

Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA), a nonprofit organization working to make area homes more energy efficient, has published the first two in a series of reports that will have a big impact on the future of residential energy efficiency in the Northwest. The Residential Building Stock Assessment (RBSA) is a comprehensive research study of energy consumption in more than 1,600 Northwest residential buildings. It will establish a regional baseline for single-family, manufactured, and multifamily homes that will inform the region’s future energy-planning efforts.

The final RBSA sample consists of households across the Northwest representing the service areas of 99 utilities. Of these, 89 are public utilities, 7 are investor-owned utilities, and 3 are natural-gas-only utilities.

Average Annual kWh per Home by State

This figure shows the average kWh usage per home in Washington, Oregon, Montana, and Idaho.

NEEA is conducting this study on behalf of more than 100 utilities throughout the Northwest region, which consists of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana. The region’s utilities, the Energy Trust of Oregon, and the Bonneville Power Administration will use the study results to identify opportunities for energy efficiency programs.

“Similar studies were implemented in the early 1990s, and since then much has changed in the way the region uses energy,” says Tom Eckman, manager of conservation resources for the Northwest Power and Conservation Council. “Data collected from the study will provide critical support for the Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s Seventh Power Plan development, as well as updated load shape information for our region.”

Utilities and experts in power planning and energy planning will also leverage the results of the RBSA to design energy efficiency rebate programs to help the Northwest meet its increasing residential energy needs.

The first two reports in the series focus on single-family and manufactured homes, respectively. These reports present a comprehensive view of the current state of residential single-family and manufactured stock characteristics through an understanding of the distribution of energy-consuming equipment and lighting. Some key highlights of the single-family report, titled “Residential Building Stock Assessment: Single-Family Characteristics and Energy Use,” reveal that

  • about 57% of single-family homes use natural gas for space heating, and of these, 49% use natural gas as their primary heating fuel;
  • electricity fuels approximately 55% of the water heating use in domestic hot water (DHW) tanks; and
  • the average single-family home has about 63 plug-in lamp sockets.

The report on manufactured homes is entitled “Residential Building Stock Assessment- Manufactured Homes Characteristics and Energy Use.” Some key highlights of the report on manufactured homes reveal that

learn more

Read the two reports described above at the NEEA web site.

  • about 70% of manufactured homes use electricity as their primary fuel for space heating, and about 11% use gas;
  • about 90% of manufactured homes use electricity for DHW;
  • the average manufactured home has about 35 plug-in lamp sockets; 28% of all lamps are CFLs;
  • and the uniformity in manufactured homes across the Northwest region is due largely to preemptive federal standards and the region’s energy efficiency programs.

Building America’s Top Innovations

Innovations sponsored by DOE’s Building America program and its teams of building science experts continue to transform our nation’s home-building industry, leading to more and better high-performance homes.

Building America researchers have worked directly with more than 300 U.S. production home builders and have boosted the performance of more than 42,000 new homes.

In 2012, DOE identified more than 30 game-changing research achievements from the years 1995 through 2012 as Building America Top Innovations. In the future, annual Top Innovations awards will recognize outstanding Building America research achievements. Shining a light on these achievements will encourage the industry to build more energy-efficient, healthier, and durable homes.

learn more

View the Building America Top Innovations.

Top Innovation awards fall into four categories:

  1. Advanced Technologies and Practices. Top Innovations in this category include research in thermal-enclosure improvements, HVAC components, ventilation, and other health and safety issues.
  2. House-as-a-System Business Case. Top Innovations in this category include profiles of Building America field research projects with production builders who have used a whole-house approach to achieve exceptional overall performance.
  3. Effective Guidance and Tools. Top Innovations in this category include research in tools, software, and guides that have significantly influenced design or construction practices.
  4. Infrastructure Development. Top Innovations in this category include research results that have influenced codes and standards, and improvements in education and in the transaction process.

Joe Thomas, General Manager, Renewal System Solutions (Renewal System Solutions)

Renewal System Solutions Selected as HPwES Contractor of the Year

The home performance professionals at Renewal System Solutions, based in Atlanta, Georgia, were recently honored as Southface’s 2012 Home Performance with Energy Star (HPwES) Contractor of the Year. Renewal System Solutions delivers customized whole-house solutions to clients looking to improve energy efficiency, health, and comfort. General Manager Joe Thomas and his team were recognized for generating the most improvements based on HPwES assessments while meeting all the quality assurance standards of the program.

“It is an extreme honor to be recognized for leadership in such a worthwhile program,” says Thomas. “As self-professed home performance geeks, we are committed to helping customers get the most comfort and efficiency from their homes. Receiving this award confirms that we are doing the right things to improve home performance by making homes more comfortable and healthy, improving energy efficiency through cost-effective improvements, and ultimately saving homeowners money through lower energy bills and rebate programs.”

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Get more information about Renewal System Solutions.

Learn more about Southface.

Renewal System Solutions is a sister company to Renewal Design-Build, one of Atlanta’s Top Five residential remodeling companies. Renewal System Solutions was specifically created to improve home performance in Atlanta.

Home Energy Saver Launches Online Forum for Homeowners

As a complement to Home Energy magazine’s forthcoming book, No-Regrets Remodeling, 2nd edition, Home Energy has teamed up with Home Energy Saver to create a consumer-facing web site to serve as a resource and discussion forum for people wanting to make their homes more comfortable and energy efficient.

Developed at DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Home Energy Saver is the first and most widely used online tool for calculating residential energy use; it can provide homeowners with a list of energy-saving upgrades tailored to their home, climate, and local energy prices. Already a trusted resource among homeowners, the Home Energy Saver tool serves as an ideal partner for the readership of No-Regrets Remodeling, 2nd edition. When you do a no-regrets remodel, you end up with an attractive home that’s more energy efficient, comfortable, and durable; less costly to operate and maintain; and healthier for you and your family. And you won’t make expensive, hazardous mistakes.

learn more

Visit the Home Energy Saver calculator and the new consumer-facing web site.

No-Regrets Remodeling, 2nd edition will be available for purchase this summer at

The new Home Energy Saver community is dedicated to everyday people who want to make their homes better and more energy-efficient places to live. Within the online community, homeowners can post their own stories about saving energy, participate in polls to see what others are doing, browse photos and videos, read blogs, and learn how to save money and energy in their homes.

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