New and Notable

July 01, 2011
July/August 2011
A version of this article appears in the July/August 2011 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
Click here to read more articles about New and Notable

Labeling for a Cause

A new energy label has taken effect for refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, dishwashers, and TV sets in the European Union (EU) countries. It retains the distinctive design and classification of products into seven energy classes from A to G, color coded from dark green (high energy efficiency) to red (low energy efficiency). Novelties include the option of including three new classes: A+, A++, and A+++.

The new classes take note of the fact that there have been improvements in energy efficiency since the labels were first required in 1995. According to the EU, a triple-A-rated fridge/freezer will consume 60% less energy on average than the same appliance in class A, while a triple-A dishwasher or washing machine will use 30% less.

28.4 NN Shoemaker Energy Label RF_01

The labels, which will become mandatory in April 2012, have been changed in other ways as well. For the first time, TV sets will be required to carry the label; and the labels on all appliances will be text free. Up to now, labels have contained written descriptions of such features as energy usage (in kWh per year), water usage of dishwashers and washing machines, and the noisiness and capacity of these appliances. These descriptions presented problems because of the many languages spoken in Europe, and they are being replaced with pictograms.

Products delivered to retailers by suppliers must bear an energy label, and retailers must display the label on a clearly visible spot, at the front or upper part of the product. Products with the old labels may be sold until the inventory is cleared.

—Ted Shoemaker

Ted Shoemaker first went to Germany as a U.S. Army officer. He married a German woman and stayed on as a writer and editor. Now retired and based in Frankfurt, he keeps his hand in by acting as a correspondent for a number of American magazines.

learn more:

Learn more about EU energy labels at

For more information on energy efficiency in EU countries, contact Ted Shoemaker at

EPA Recognizes NYSERDA

EPA has honored the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) with a 2011 Energy Star Sustained Excellence Award in recognition of its continued leadership in protecting our environment by promoting energy efficiency. NYSERDA’s accomplishments were recognized at an awards ceremony held in Washington, D.C., on April 12, 2011.


This award recognizes NYSERDA’s ongoing leadership across the Energy Star program, including the promotion of energy-efficient products, services, and new homes and buildings in the commercial, industrial, and public sectors. The 46 Sustained Excellence Award winners were selected from more than 17,000 organizations that participate in the Energy Star program, and the selected winners have exhibited outstanding leadership year after year. The 2011 winners have reduced greenhouse gas emissions by setting and achieving aggressive goals, employing innovative approaches, and showing others what can be achieved through energy efficiency.

“We very much appreciate this recognition from EPA,” says Francis J. Murray, Jr., president and CEO of NYSERDA. “Energy efficiency is a cornerstone of New York’s energy policy. We view our Energy Star partnership as an important way to address climate change and reduce energy consumption in the state.”

2010 NYSERDA Highlights
  • With the goal of selling nearly 17 million Energy Star-qualified CFLs in three years, NYSERDA created the Shining Example campaign and was recognized for a 2010 Communication Award of Distinction and 2010 Bronze Telly Award for the campaign’s accomplishments in marketing and promotion. The campaign surpassed its 2010 CFL sales goal by more than a million.
  • More than 2,400 New York Energy Star homes were built in 2010, saving nearly $2.4 million in energy costs, 5,717,063 kWh in electricity, and 88,884 MMBtu in fossil fuels.
  • With the help of 117 vendors, NYSERDA’s Clean and Tune program provided preventive maintenance services to the heating systems of 2,315 Home Energy Assistance program households.
  • More than 6,000 Home Performance with Energy Star jobs were completed in 2010.
  • The low-income component of the Home Performance with Energy Star program accounted for approximately 20% (1,267) of all 2010 projects.
  • EmPower New York provided electricity demand reduction and home energy performance improvements to over 6,334 low-income households in 2010.
  • More than 1,300 Energy Star retailers now sell and promote Energy Star-qualified products, with more than 288 new retail partners added in 2010.

learn more:

To learn more about the Energy Star program, visit

For more information on NYSERDA, visit

100 Homes and Counting

Homes for Our Troops, a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to providing homes for veterans who have returned from combat with serious disabilities and injuries since September 11, 2001, recently passed a large milestone: 100 homes. Located in Fredericksburg, Virginia, the 100th specially adapted home conjured up a celebration that was nothing short of heroic—complete with donated building services, strong community support, and more than 100 motorcycles that escorted Marine Sergeant Kenny Lyon to his new home. Even more miraculous, Homes for Our Troops, Atlantic Builders, and 150 businesses and professional volunteers constructed the home in a record 76 hours and 41 minutes.

28.4%20nn_Homes%20for%20Our%20TroopsHomes for Our Troops

Adding to the organization’s noble goal is the fact that it is also committed to energy efficiency, says Dawn Teixeira, executive director of the nonprofit. “Energy efficiency is one of our priorities,” she says. “It is not only good for the environment, it makes sense to provide our veterans with all the health and economic benefits that energy-efficient homes provide.”

In order to comply with efficiency standards, Homes for Our Troops has joined forces with the Sierra Club Foundation, which has awarded it a grant that allows each one of the homes to be built to Energy Star standards, and to be Energy Star rated. “We have also been able to build several homes that have been LEED certified in Oregon, Colorado, and New Jersey,” Teixeira says. 

28.4%20nn_HFOTWallRaisingHomes for Our Troops

And they’re simply not slowing down. Homes for Our Troops has already kicked off the build of its 101st home (also in Virginia), and Teixeira says the organization will continue to build. Homes for Our Troops estimates that there are more than 1,000 veterans who have been so severely injured while serving our country that they qualify for a Homes for Our Troops home—which means there’s a lot of work to be done. “We are now looking toward funding 100 more,” she says. 

learn more:

To learn more about Homes for Our Troops, or to donate services, visit the organization’s web site

Energy Mortgages 101

Energy mortgages—a type of mortgage that credits a home’s energy efficiency in the home loan—are becoming more and more popular, and for good reason. For a home that’s already energy efficient, qualifying for an energy mortgage could enable the home buyer to purchase a larger or newer home due to the savings from lower monthly heating and cooling bills. For homes in which energy efficiency can be improved, qualifying for an energy mortgage allows the buyer to use the money saved on utility bills to finance further energy improvements.

learn more

Green Jobs in the Residential Energy Efficiency Industry, a report by the Home Performance Resource Center, and the 2010 Efficiency First Workforce Survey results are available through:

Efficiency First
70 Zoe Street, Ste. 201
San Francisco, CA 94107
Tel: (415) 449-0551

Laney College (Oakland, California)
Emily Courtney,
Director of Green Technology Education
Tel: (510)464-3380

Rising Sun Energy Center
(Berkeley, California)
Green Energy Training Services
Elena Foshay, Program Manager
Tel: (510)665-1501, Ext. 18

Alameda County Green Business Program (Alameda, California)
Pamela Evans, Coordinator
Tel: (510)567-6770

As of now, there are two types of energy mortgages. Energy improvement mortgages finance energy upgrades to an existing home in the mortgage loan, using monthly energy savings. Energy-efficient mortgages use the energy savings from a new energy-efficient home to increase the borrower’s home-buying power and capitalize the energy savings in the home’s appraisal.

Purchasing Power and Market Value

The ability to leverage a home buyer’s investment in energy efficiency increases the number of qualified home buyers and increases those buyers’ purchasing power. A recent analysis conducted by EPA confirmed that energy-efficient mortgages could dramatically increase opportunities for home ownership. The analysis found that an average of 6.8% more families would be able to qualify for a mortgage through an energy-efficient mortgage (as opposed to any other kind of mortgage.)

Another study, published in the Appraisal Journal, found that the market value of a home increased $20 for every $1 decrease in annual energy costs. According to a recent analysis conducted by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, building a home to exceed the Model Energy Code would result in an annual savings of $175–$425. Applying these findings to the analysis published in the Appraisal Journal would equate to an increased home market value of between $4,250 and $10,625.

Recent Changes to Fannie Mae

Major mortgage player Fannie Mae recently dropped its energy-efficient mortgage and replaced it with the new energy improvement mortgage, which applies only to the upgrading of an existing home through a purchase or refinance.

Fannie Mae’s energy improvement mortgage finances improvements found by a RESNET home energy rating to be up to 10% of the as-completed appraisal, and the cost of the home energy rating is included in the cost of energy improvements to the home. In addition, the new energy improvement mortgage makes appraisers accountable for determining the as-completed value of the home based upon the energy improvements that were made, and for verifying that the energy improvements being financed were actually completed. This makes the contractors doing the work accountable for helping the homeowner determine where the energy improvement loan money was actually spent.

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