This article was originally published in the January/February 1993 issue of Home Energy Magazine. Some formatting inconsistencies may be evident in older archive content.



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Home Energy Magazine Online January/February 1993



Conservation Clips is compiled by Cathlene Casebolt of the National Center for Appropriate Technology, a non-profit organization working in sustainable energy, agriculture, affordable housing, and environmental protection. Conservation Clips contains brief summaries of useful research reports and articles in related magazines, and other publications collected by the NCAT staff. Contact NCAT, P.O. Box 4000, Butte, MT 59702. Tel: (800) 428-2525; Fax: (406)494-2905.


Sealed-Combustion Gas Range. A sealed-combustion gas range--one that uses only outside air for combustion and vents the byproducts of combustion directly outdoors--has been developed by the Canadian Gas Assoc. (CGA). In this unique design, venting is accomplished through a 2 in., stainless-steel exhaust pipe surrounded by a 4 in. intake pipe for combustion air. Cooking vessels are not directly exposed to the gas flame. CGA has applied for patent protection and Tennessee-based Magic Chef is interested in manufacturing the stoves. So far, though, CGA has developed only one prototype, with four more on the way. (Energy Design Update, July 1992)

Microwave Garbage Disposal. First there was the microwave oven, then the microwave dryer. Now a Japanese manufacturer, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., has developed a microwave garbage disposal in an effort to reduce the country's landfill problems. The unit dries garbage and reduces it into a pile of ash only 1/300 its original weight. The complete cycle for a 2.2 lb load of garbage takes about 4 hours and uses 6 kWh of electricity. Only a limited number of Japanese dealers have received these units, at a cost of $3,830 and $50,000 for residential- and industrial-sized units, respectively. Conventional garbage disposals are illegal in Japan because the sewage treatment facilities do not have sufficient capacity. (Popular Science, August 1992)

Products to Improve IAQ. Two manufacturers have developed products to address the ever-increasing concern over indoor air quality and the environment. The Glidden Co. recently introduced two new paints--Glidden Spread 2000: The Clean Air Choice, an interior latex, and Glidden Lifemaster 2000, a professional product. These paints do not release volatile organic compounds into the air and have no odor. Glidden wants to eliminate petroleum-based solvents from its architectural coatings by the year 2000.

Canon has developed a new technology to reduce ozone emissions from its laser printers. The redesign involves switching from a charged wire in the printers, which is responsible for the ozone emissions, to a charge transfer roller, reducing the likelihood of the charge coming in contact with oxygen, and, thus, reducing ozone production. (Indoor Air Quality Update, August 1992)

Thermal Bypasses And Heat Loss. Typical weatherization measures such as caulking and weatherstripping don't necessarily stop heat loss, nor does new construction always eliminate leaks in the envelope. According to an article titled Finding Hidden Heat Leaks by Thomas Blandy, thermal bypasses, which allow heat to escape from buildings, are common, yet many can be easily corrected once they are identified. Some common thermal bypasses include: wall-ceiling intersections, gaps in insulation, unsealed kitchen or bath soffits, furred-out masonry, recessed ceiling lights, unblocked joist spaces behind overhangs, folding attic stairs with no insulation or seal, and mechanical system pipes and ducts. A few warning signs of possible thermal bypasses are: mildew formation on a cold wall, draft from an electrical outlet, and cold air from a sink cabinet. Sealing these gaps means increased comfort and reduced moisture problems and energy consumption (as much as 20% according to Princeton researchers). (Journal of Light Construction, August 1992)

Energy-Efficient Home Office Equipment. A typical computer system--personal computer, monitor, and printer--can use as much as 1,000 kWh of electricity each year. And despite this high consumption, consumers often base their buying decisions on initial cost and equipment features rather than on energy efficiency. To encourage manufacturers to produce more energy-efficient computer equipment and consumers to purchase them, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is developing the EPA Energy Star Computers program. Manufacturers who have signed a commitment contract with EPA and whose equipment meets the established efficiency criteria--personal computers with the ability to enter a low-power state of 30 W or less, for example--will display an EPA Energy Star Pollution Preventer logo, making it easy for consumers to distinguish energy-efficient from inefficient equipment. The program, which is still being developed, has an estimated potential to save 25 billion kWh and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 20 million tons each year. (EPA Energy Star Computers: The Next Generation of Office Equipment, Proceedings of ACEEE 1992 Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings, Volume 6)

Automatic Shut-Off Computers. While EPA is promoting its Energy Star Computers program, Sweden's National Board for Industrial and Technical Development (NUTEK) has issued a challenge to computer manufacturers in that country to develop a computer that shuts itself off after standing unused for one hour. The machine would be reactivated with any keystroke. Unlike those currently available programs that turn off only the screen's writing beam, NUTEK's plea is for a machine that shuts off entirely. In addition to saving $4-$300 in energy costs per year, there are built-in bonuses to such a machine, including less exposure to electromagnetic fields emitted by computers and less ventilation required to remove heat generated from operation. NUTEK officials have learned from manufacturers that the technology is feasible--and likely without any added cost to consumers--and expect the new machines to be available soon, perhaps as early as this fall.

The leading supplier of computer chips has announced that it will offer a chip that allows computers to sleep when idle. The energy-efficiency feature, already in Intel chips for portable computers, will be incorporated in the company's entire product line beginning in the Spring of 1993. The EPA hailed the move and said it could cut electricity consumption by computers in half by the end of the decade. (Auto Turn-Off Monitors Save Money and Improve Working Conditions, NUTEK, 1992)


1. Energy Design Update, Cutter Information Corp., 37 Broadway, Arlington, MA 02174. Tel:(617)648-8700; Fax:(617)648-8707.

2. Popular Science, 2 Park Ave., New York, NY 10016. Tel:(212)779-5000; Fax(212)779-9468.

3. Indoor Air Quality Update, Cutter Information Corp., 37 Broadway, Arlington, MA 02174. Tel:(617)648-8700; Fax:(617)648-8707.

4. Journal of Light Construction, Builderburg Partners, Ltd., 1025 Vermont Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20005. Tel:(802)434-4747; Fax:(802)434-4467.

5. American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), 1001 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20036. Tel:(202)429-8873; Fax:(202)429-2248.

6. Department of Energy Efficiency, The National Board for Industrial and Technical Development, NUTEK, S-117 86 Stockholm, Sweden. Tel: +46 8 744 95 00; Fax: +46 8 744 09 39.


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