This article was originally published in the May/June 1998 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 1998


Let It Shine. Want a little more light in a house? Add a skylight. Want lots of light, with panoramic views? Add a sunroom or a patio room. However, while they contribute heat and light, additions can be beset with insulation and draft problems if incorrectly installed. And the Model Energy Code (MEC) is of little use when, for example, there are no energy codes for predesigned, prefabricated fixed-glass sunrooms. The National Sunroom Association (NSA) is working to change this. In conjunction with the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC), the NSA is developing a rating method for determining the thermal performance of sunrooms and solariums. The NSA hopes to educate code writers on the energy performance capabilities of sunrooms so that builders can assess the energy trade-offs of installing such additions. NFRC Update, Jan/Feb 1998. 1300 Spring St., Suite 500, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Tel:(301)589-NFRC; E-mail:

Unvented Attic in a Cold Climate? A test house in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is challenging the assumption that a house in a cold climate requires a vented attic. Traditionally, unvented attics have not been used in cold climates for fear of ice dam problems (see Out, Out Dammed Ice! HE Nov/Dec '96, p. 21). Innovative Business and Construction Solutions (IBACOS), under the Department of Energy's Building America Program, designed the building to keep heat and moisture off the underside of the roof with innovative framing, insulation, and HVAC techniques. IBACOS claims that the improved envelope made it possible to downsize the furnace and central air conditioner, saving an estimated 40% on heating and cooling bills. The performance of the vacant house is being monitored by National Renewable Energy Laboratory for a full year. Energy Design Update, Jan 1998. Cutter Information Corporation, 37 Broadway, Suite 1, Arlington, MA 02174-5552. Tel:(800)964-5118; Fax:(800)888-1816; E-mail:; Web site:

Home of Champions. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) announced the winners of its 1998 EnergyValue Housing Awards for outstanding energy and resource efficiency in the design, construction, and marketing of new homes. The winning homes share several features. These include air sealing and upgraded insulation levels of the shell and ductwork; properly sized heating and cooling equipment; building orientations that take advantage of solar energy; reduced construction waste; resource-efficient construction materials; and participation in energy programs and home energy rating systems. Innovative features of some of the winners include ground source heat pumps with desuperheaters (which use waste heat to produce hot water); solar water heaters; mechanical ventilation systems with heat recovery; insulated concrete forms; and structural insulated panels. Many winning builders guarantee annual heating and cooling costs. NAHB Research Center, 400 Prince George's Blvd., Upper Marlboro, MD 20774-8731. Tel:(301)249-9000, Ext. 700; Fax:(301)249-3265; Web site:

Clear Picture, Unclear Concept. As the United States prepares for the arrival of High Definition Television (HDTV), and digital television in general, word from Britain cautions that the new sets may trigger a surge in power consumption. Digital receivers may be designed to draw power 24 hours a day in order to update software that controls the program guide, the list of channels, and access to pay-per-view programs. Even as Energy Star has persuaded manufacturers to lower the standby energy use of analog TVs to less than 4 watts (see First Patch on Leaky Electricity, p. 7) digital receivers are being developed that draw at least 16 watts all the time. Britain's Consumers' Association (CA) believes that by 2005, all TVs in Britain will be digital. The standby energy leaks are predicted to consume an extra 325 megawatts, equivalent to 1% of the country's peak power consumption and roughly the same as a new gas turbine power station. The European Commission, worried that the rest of Europe will follow Britain's lead in digital TV, addressed this issue in April. New Scientist, Feb 14, 1998. Reed Business Information Limited, 151 Wardour St., London W1V 4BN. Tel:+44(0)171-331-2701; Fax: +44(0) 171-331-2777; Web site:

States Push for Home Energy Rating Systems. More and more states are lining up behind the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) (see Home Energy Rating Systems: Actual Usage May Vary, HE Sept/Oct '97, p. 21). In Indiana, an estimated 1,800 new homes have been rated, and the state energy office may permit a HERS rating in lieu of plan review/site inspections by code enforcement personnel. In Louisiana, the state created the Home Energy Loan Program as part of HERS. It kicked off January 1, and in March began offering lower interest mortgages for qualifying energy-efficient homes. In Florida, the state is revising its Building Energy Efficiency Rating System to adopt HERS guidelines. Regionally, the Southern States Energy Board is working with state energy offices in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North and South Carolina to encourage HERS adoption. Building Codes Assistance Project, Jan/Feb 1998. BCAP, 1200 18th St. NW, Suite 900, Washington, DC 20036. Tel:(202)530-2200; Fax:(202)331-9588; E-mail:; Web site:


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