Posts Tagged ‘home efficiency’
» posted on Friday, October 22nd, 2010 at 2:41 pm by Woody Wilson viewed 222 times
David Shepler Posted: October 22, 2010 09:12 AM
Interest in greener buildings has skyrocketed in the last decade. From commercial properties taking steps to add green spaces on their rooftops to home builders and do-it-yourselfers making residential buildings more sustainable, the push toward greater energy efficiency in construction continues to gain momentum.
Particularly with regard to home building and renovation, I frequently talk with people who want to turn their houses into net-zero-energy (NZE) living spaces, meaning that over the course of a full year, the residents consume no more energy than the home itself produces. Sounds tough, right? Maybe even downright impossible, especially for residents living in colder climates that demand home heating for six or more months each year?
Take it from me, I’m living proof that an NZE home is possible, even for someone who lives in the unpredictable climate of upstate New York, where temperatures can drop to 10-below zero in January and soar to over 100 in August. And as someone who moved here from the southwest, I wondered what kinds of challenges these seasonal changes would present someone aiming to achieve high energy efficiency in their home.
Because I’ve had a lifelong interest in sustainability, I wanted to build a house that reflected my beliefs. Fortunately for me, I found a builder named Anthony Aebi who had a similar dream: to create a repeatable, cost-effective approach to achieving zero energy in a development called Green Acres in New Paltz, NY. I eagerly signed up to become the first resident. Green Acres now has five occupied homes and we can find no other examples in the world of a NZE development that has proven its claim.
So how do you get started in building an NZE home, with or without a committed builder? First, there are several misconceptions about projects like this. In particular, many believe it’s an enormously expensive endeavor. That’s simply not the case.
In my experience, I’ve found that it cost only 10 percent more to include the many energy efficiency features, while the payback period will be seven to 12 years, depending upon the price of heating oil. Added to this, based on recent sales of homes in my development, I strongly suspect that if I were to sell, I would recover most, if not all, of these additional costs — even in this housing slump!
To help defray the costs, there are a number of federal and state incentives that can help as well. Take a look at the U.S. Department of Energy website to learn more about currently available tax credits and rebates.
Another common misconception is that adequate commercial technologies simply do not exist. As I can testify, this also is a myth. Many large home appliance companies, such as WaterFurnace, are producing wonderful systems that are reasonably priced and perform very well.
My home combines a geothermal heating and cooling system (HVAC) along with solar panels, superior insulation and sealing. I also recover energy that would normally be lost in air exchange through a heat recovery ventilation system. My house is located about 90 miles north of New York City. Because of its latitude and weather conditions, this region isn’t the easiest place to generate solar energy. Frankly, NZE is much easier to achieve in places like California, Arizona or throughout the south; so if we can do it here, it can be done virtually anywhere!
Now this is where taking a greener approach gets interesting. I pay $16 a month to the local utility here in New York in order to stay connected to their electrical grid. And last year, the utility actually paid me for the energy I sold back to them! Check out some of the features from my NZE home, then read on for some tips to put to use in yours:
Here are some more details on the specific features I’ve built into my NZE home. Perhaps you’re interested in incorporating some or all of these into your home building or renovation project.
- Solar panels. I used an upgraded 10 kilowatt system to ensure capacity to accommodate a plug-in hybrid or electric vehicle some day. Although installation of the solar panel system cost more than 85,000, state and federal rebates and tax incentives reduced the cost to less than27,000.
- Geothermal heating and cooling by means of a ground source heat pump, which is a highly efficient, electrically powered system that uses the earth’s constant ground temperature to provide heating, cooling and hot water for homes and buildings. A federal tax incentive will reimburse 30 percent of the cost of the total system.
- Superior insulation and sealing, including high-performance windows, insulated concrete forms and spray-foam insulation in the rafters. Most homes average 35 percent of air exchange per hour; my house limits the leakage of air to less than 7 percent. The basement is highly insulated, including double R-20 foam under the slab. Studies show that 40 percent of heat is lost through poorly insulated basements.
- Heat-recovery ventilation, which uses electronic systems to exchange energy from indoor, conditioned air to incoming outdoor air, which recovers up to 88 percent of available (and normally lost) energy.
The only way we as a country are going to get away from our fossil fuel dependence is to tackle the biggest areas of energy waste. Buildings (commercial and residential) are well established as the single largest consumers of energy worldwide. Moving toward the zero-energy model is a great step in the right direction. I live in a true dream house, and it didn’t require a huge trade-off to maintain environmental stability. I hope this inspires others to follow my lead.
Yet Few Believe Their Homes Are Very Energy Efficient
OCEANSIDE, Calif., Sept. 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Home energy efficiency is valued by the vast majority of American homeowners, with 89 percent of national survey respondents indicating that making their home more energy efficient is important to them personally.
Key findings from the September 2010 national survey include:
- Less than one in three homeowners believe their homes are “very” energy efficient
- While the majority reported knowing “a lot” about how to make their homes energy efficient, they mistakenly identified ”older windows” as the top energy-loss culprit
- 90% said it is important to have a professional energy auditor who is “certified by an independent national organization”
“These findings are a call to action to the industry to help consumers tap into the true value of an independent energy audit,” said Steve Baden, executive director, RESNET. “While the benefits of window replacement are obvious, it is often a less visible and less expensive repair – for example, sealing cracks around air conditioning and heating ducts – that can significantly improve a home’s energy efficiency and cut homeowners’ utility bills.”
Just released from GreenEcoClub the DIY Easy-Energy-Audits. This step-by-step guide will show you how to do energy audit on your home like the pros. Easy-Energy-audits
D.C.-based Clarus Research Group, a Qorvis company, conducted a market survey of 800 U.S. homeowners(1) on behalf of RESNET, an industry leader in the energy efficiency marketplace. The sample was defined as adults over 21 years of age who currently own a home or plan to purchase one within the next year. The survey was conducted by Ron Faucheux, Ph.D., president of Clarus and a nationally recognized research and polling expert.
Key among other survey findings:
- 86% of homeowners would trust an energy audit performed by someone who was “certified by an independent national organization” over someone who was not
- 80% of those surveyed said that if they were in the market to buy a home, an energy audit conducted by an “unbiased professional” would be important to them
RESNET is a national nonprofit organization that sets the standards for the inspection and testing of the energy performance of homes. RESNET saw 119,000 homes rated last year, and has had over 1,000,000 rated since its inception. RESNET is recognized by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for Energy Star Homes, the U.S. Department of Energy for the National Builder’s Challenge, and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for the federal tax credit for builders building energy-efficient homes. For more information, please visit www.resnet.us
(1) Poll conducted Sept. 1–4, 2010 via live telephone interviewing of a nationwide, scientifically-selected random sample. Margin of error: +/-3.46%.
GE Chooses EcoView Residential — a Feature Rich, Cost-Effective, Flexible and Scalable Wireless Energy Monitoring Dashboard That Helps Lower Homeowner Energy Usage, Utility Bills and Carbon Emissions
SAN DIEGO, CA, Sep 14, 2010 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) — Advanced Telemetry (www.AdvancedTelemetry.com), developer of the EcoView(TM) smart energy management system for light commercial and residential applications, today announced that General Electric Co. /quotes/comstock/13*!ge/quotes/nls/ge (GE 16.19, -0.10, -0.61%) (“GE”) has adopted its “EcoView Residential” solution for select energy conscious home builders across North America.
General Electric is working with a select group of home builders and developers to design homes that are not only comfortable, but also achieve at least a 20% reduction in household energy usage, indoor water consumption and overall carbon emissions as compared to industry-accepted average new homes. Now a key component of the program, the EcoView Residential energy management system is integral in helping homeowners easily and consistently achieve this high level of energy efficiency — and also benefit from the related cost savings.
“EcoView Residential is an innovative solution addressing the rapidly growing smart grid industry, enabling homeowners to actively participate in taking the pressure off our overloaded grid infrastructure,” notes Advanced Telemetry President Gus Ezcurra. “This helps improve grid reliability and security, while reducing residential energy bills and environmental impacts.”
“We worked closely with GE’s builder and developer affiliates to deliver a feature rich, cost-effective, flexible and scalable product to meet their needs today and in the future,” continues Ezcurra. “We’re honored to partner with General Electric and its esteemed builder and developer partners from coast to coast to help homeowners reduce resource usage, utility costs and their overall environmental footprint.”
In addition to EcoView Residential, all homes being built by the GE customers are equipped with an array of GE products that address today’s environmentally conscious consumer values. These include GE’s ENERGY STAR(R) appliances and Energy Smart(TM) compact fluorescent lighting package. Homeowners can now maximize benefits with these products when used in combination with the EcoView Residential energy monitoring touch screen, which gives them the power to measure and control utility use and better understand the true value of their home’s energy-efficient features.
About EcoView Residential EcoView Residential provides homeowners with an array of world-leading features, including real time information on energy and resource usage that allows owners and tenants to pinpoint and minimize consumption from devices ranging from flat screen televisions to computers to light bulbs. The system, which is easily installed by a qualified professional in under 2 hours, may be readily connected to wireless control devices like thermostats and light switches, enabling users to quickly, easily, and even remotely make adjustments to a home’s energy consumption.
EcoView Residential’s high resolution, flat screen interactive touch-screen communicates wirelessly with metering devices that measure a home’s electricity and water consumption, providing real-time, graphical illustrations of-and control over-energy usage or generation. The system also takes advantage of an existing broadband Internet connection enabling homeowners to remotely access their system to view current consumption and make adjustments to settings and schedules for thermostats, lighting controls and other appliances from any Web-enabled device outside the home.
About Advanced Telemetry, LLC With a corporate belief that energy and fiscal conservation begins with an awareness of wasteful consumption habits as they occur, Advanced Telemetry offers EcoView(TM) — a proprietary, smart energy and resource management system for both residential and small commercial applications. Server-based and entirely Web accessible, EcoView is the most cost-effective, future-proof system available that — completely independent of a utility company — enables users to easily view, manage and reduce their resource consumption — and thus utility bills and carbon footprint — in real-time. These are among the many reasons Advanced Telemetry’s has been chosen as a General Electric Co. Ecomagination(SM) program partner. Founded in 2007, Advanced Telemetry is headquartered in San Diego, California. More information may be accessed on the Advanced Telemetry blog at http://at-cto.blogspot.com or through the company’s Web site at www.AdvancedTelemetry.com.
EcoView is a trademark of Advanced Telemetry, LLC. Other product, program and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners. Copyright 2009 Advanced Telemetry, LLC. All rights reserved.
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