Category Archives: Energy Efficiency News

The First Clothes Dryers to Earn the Energy Star Label Now Available Nationwide

ES DryerEnergy Star Press Release Date: 02/10/2015

Contact Information: Jennifer Colaizzi, colaizzi.jennifer@epa.gov, 202-564-7776, 202-564-4355

WASHINGTON –The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that Energy Star certified clothes dryers are now available nationwide through major retailers. At least 45 models of dryers earning the Energy Star label, including Whirlpool, Maytag, Kenmore, LG, and Safemate, are at least 20 percent more efficient and now available at prices comparable to standard dryers. 

“Dryers are one of the most common household appliances and the biggest energy users,” said U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “EPA’s Energy Star certified clothes dryers offer Americans an opportunity to save energy and do their part to combat climate change. By working with industry, we are bringing innovative technology to market that’s good for the planet.”

Clothes dryers consume more energy than any other appliance in the home, and 80 percent of American homes have dryers. But unlike clothes washers, which have seen a 70 percent drop in energy use since 1990, the energy efficiency of most dryers has not improved. If all residential clothes dryers sold in the U.S. were Energy Star certified, Americans could save $1.5 billion each year in utility costs and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equal to the electricity use from more than 1.3 million homes.

The efficiency specifications were developed with extensive input from manufacturers, retailers, the U.S. Department of Energy, and environmental groups. Manufacturers meet the specification requirements by incorporating advanced sensors that more effectively detect when clothes are dry and stop the dryer.

Energy Star certified dryers include gas, electric and compact models. The Energy Star label can also be found on dryers that feature new advanced heat pump technology and are 40 percent more efficient than conventional models. Heat pump dryers recapture the hot air used by the dryer and pump it back into the drum. By re-using most of the heat, a heat pump dryer is more efficient and avoids the need for ducts.
For the complete Press Release:

Energy Efficiency is America’s No. 1 Housing Concern

Home-Insulation-300x225Safety, affordability and privacy – it’s no surprise that these were some of top housing needs identified in a recent national survey of more than 10,000 households. But the No. 1 unmet housing concern, which the Demand Institute that carried out the poll defined as the “satisfaction gap” between what respondents actually have and what they said was important, was not as easily expected: energy efficiency.

Survey respondents were given a list of 52 housing and community concerns and asked to rank them, on a scale of 1 to 10, by how important they felt the issues were and how much their current home satisfied these needs. The result: 71 percent of U.S. households polled placed a great deal of importance on energy efficiency, but only 35 percent felt their homes were very energy efficient with low monthly utility costs (the respondents making up percentages answered these questions with an 8, 9 or 10 ranking).

Based on these numbers, energy efficiency was the housing concern with the largest gap between the rates of importance and satisfaction – beating out consumer needs and wants for updated kitchens, storage space, safe neighborhoods, affordability, landlord responsiveness and more.

Why the strong desire for energy-wise homes?

“Utilities are a significant and regular part of households’ budgets, and spending on utilities has risen more quickly than overall consumer spending – 56 percent vs. 38 percent growth since 2000,” said Louise Keely, president of the Demand Institute, a nonprofit think tank jointly created and operated by Nielsen and the Conference Board to monitor consumer demand.

To read more of this report:  The Demand Institute Poll on Triple Pundit.

Millennials Seek Smaller Homes, Energy Efficiency, Won’t Sacrifice Details

Originally Published on the NAHB Website
http://nahbnow.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/507029289.jpg

Laundry Room

The survey says: No laundry room = no sale.

 

As Millennials begin to enter the home buying market in larger numbers, homes will get a little smaller, laundry rooms will be essential, and home technology increasingly prevalent, said panelists during an International Builders’ Show press conference on home trends and Millennials’ home preferences last week.

NAHB Assistant VP of Research Rose Quint predicted that the growing numbers of first-time buyers will drive down home size in 2015. Three million new jobs were created in 2014, 700,000 more than the previous year “and the most since 1999,” Quint said. At the same time, regulators have reduced downpayment requirements for first-time buyers from 5% to 3% and home prices have seen only moderate growth.

“All these events lead me to believe that more people will come into the market, and as younger, first-time buyers, they will demand smaller, more affordable homes,” Quint said. “Builders will build whatever demand calls out for.”

Quint also unveiled the results of two surveys: one asking home builders what features they are most likely to include in a typical new home this year, and one asking Millennials what features are most likely to affect their home buying decisions.

Of the Top 10 features mentioned by home builders, four have to do with energy efficiency: Low-E windows, Energy Star-rated appliances and windows and programmable thermostats. The top features: master bedroom walk-in closets and a separate laundry room.

Least likely features include high-end outdoor kitchens with plumbing and appliances and two-story foyers and family rooms. “Consumers don’t like them anymore, so builders aren’t going to build them,” Quint said.

When NAHB asked Millennials what features fill their “most-wanted” shopping list, a separate laundry room was clearly on top, with 55% responding that they just wouldn’t buy a new home that didn’t have one.

Storage is also important, with linen closets, a walk-in pantry and garage storage making the Top 10 – along with Energy Star certifications. In fact, this group is willing to pay 2-3% more for energy efficiency as long as they can see a return on their power bills.

If they can’t quite afford that first home, respondents said they’d be happy to sacrifice extra finished space or drive a little farther to work, shops and schools, but are unwilling to compromise with less expensive materials.

A whopping 75% of this generation wants to live in single-family homes, and 66% prefer to live in the suburbs. Only 10% say they want to stay in the central city. Compared to older generations, Millennials are more likely to want to live downtown, but it’s still a small minority share, Quint said.

Panelist Jill Waage, editorial director for home content at Better Homes and Gardens, discussed Millennials’ emphasis on the importance of outdoor living and that generation’s seamless use of technology, and how those two trends play into their home buying and home renovation decisions.

Because they generally don’t have as much ready cash or free time as older home owners, Millennials seek less expensive, low-maintenance choices like a brightly painted front door, strings of garden lights and landscaping that needs less watering and mowing, like succulent plants and larger patios.

They’re also very comfortable with their smartphones and tablets, and increasingly seek ways to control their heating and air-conditioning and security and lighting as well as electronics like televisions and sound systems from their phones. “They want to use their brains for other things, not for remembering whether they adjusted the heat or closed the garage door,” Waage said.

Get more details about the NAHB survey in this post from Eye on the Economy.

I emphasized the two comments about Energy Efficient Features NAHB found.  If you would like help in addressing these in a cost effective manner for your buyers, Call The Energy Guy!

Poll: Energy Efficiency is America’s No. 1 Housing Concern

Safety, affordability and privacy – it’s no surprise that these were some of top housing needs identified in a recent national survey of more than 10,000 households. But the No. 1 unmet housing concern, which the Demand Institute that carried out the poll defined as the “satisfaction gap” between what respondents actually have and what they said was important, was not as easily expected: energy efficiency.Insulation

Survey respondents were given a list of 52 housing and community concerns and asked to rank them, on a scale of 1 to 10, by how important they felt the issues were and how much their current home satisfied these needs. The result: 71 percent of U.S. households polled placed a great deal of importance on energy efficiency, but only 35 percent felt their homes were very energy efficient with low monthly utility costs (the respondents making up percentages answered these questions with an 8, 9 or 10 ranking).

To read more continue here

World’s first 3D-printed apartment building constructed in China

A Chinese company has successfully 3D printed a five-storey apartment building and a 1,100 square metre (11,840 sf) villa from a special print material.

3D Printed BuildingWhile architectural firms compete with their designs for 3D-printed dwellings, one company in China has quietly been setting about getting the job done. In March of last year, company WinSun claimed to have printed 10 houses in 24 hours, using a proprietary 3D printer that uses a mixture of ground construction and industrial waste, such as glass and tailings, around a base of quick-drying cement mixed with a special hardening agent.

Now, WinSun has further demonstrated the efficacy of its technology — with a five-storey apartment building and a 1,100 square metre (11,840 square foot) villa, complete with decorative elements inside and out, on display at Suzhou Industrial Park.

Read More for C Net

Question about Builders

google_adwordsGoogle Adwords is one way to promote a product or service.  I have used their approach in the past and currently have an ad campaign going. This campaign promotes New Home Buyers asking Builders ‘What is the HERS Score!’  The HERS Score is a transparent method the Builder can use to educate the buyers, appraisers and others essential to a success of the sales transaction.

I saw an interesting Google Referral today that is worth Blogging about.

The search term used was:  “Best HERS Rated Builder in Wichita”

The short answer is, there isn’t a best builder. That is because a HERS Rating is for a specific home, not for a builder.

images-1A HERS Rating looks at the features of a specific home and evaluates how well they are installed. The builder can specify a great furnace. The quality of the workmanship that is put into installing that furnace will effect the HERS Score.  Insulation is treated the same way.

The HERS Score shows the difference between two or more homes.  A new home buyer may be best served with a HERS Index in the low 90s.  A second new home buyer may be best served with a HERS Index in the upper 70s.

That reasoning, on the best Index Score, is best covered in another post.

HERS-scaleVAny builder can choose to build with either HERS Score above. Using one or the other does not make a builder better, it means the builder is meeting the needs of the buyer.

The HERS Score is a way of demonstrating transparency from the builder to the buyer to the realtor, the appraiser and others involved in the transaction.

NAHB and Greening the MLS

I receive an email news letter each Friday as a member of Wichita Area Builders Association and NAHB, the local and national Builders Trade Groups.  This is titled Monday Morning Briefing.  There are usually 8 to 10 concise articles of interest to the residential building industry. NAHB has an outstanding Research Arm.  Every time they post something they have researched, I learn something.

Some of these posts are self-promotional.  I don’t blame them. They work hard and deserve to put that hard work out for everyone to know about.

In this case, the article that caught my attention relates to work the NAHB has done with other industry trade groups to advance the shared knowledge for builders, buyers, real estate agents, appraisers and others.  Everyone in the home sales transaction benefits from common, verified sources of information about specific homes.

Here is the actual article.  Thank You! NAHB!

NAHB_MLS

What Type of Hot Water Heater Do You Want?

Vent 3Most homes in this area have a gas fired natural draft hot water heater. They come complete with a draft diverter.  The purpose of the draft diverter is to send the exhaust gasses (containing Carbon Monoxide, Sulphur Dioxide etc) into the home if the chimney or flue doesn’t allow them to go up. Left is a picture of a properly installed heater with a draft diverter. Note the space between the tank and the flue. That is the design that allow the noxious gasses to back draft into the home.

Some have been replaced with a power vented unit, which like your new furnace has a fan that starts the air going up the flue before the burners light. Some have been replaced with a Tankless Gas Fired Hot water Heater. Some people choose to use an electric hot water heater.  Any of these are safer then the designed to fail builders grade low priced natural draft hot water heater.

Now General Electric has come out with a Heat Pump Hot Water Heater. In the past they have been great for warmer climates than Kansas. The improved models now available are great for Kansas and other cold weather areas.

GE is going after the New Construction Residential Market with these units.  Over 50% of the homes built in the US in 2013 were trusted by the builder to obtain a HERS rating.  The attached video (advertising) from GE shows how this unit will lower the HERS Scores and thus the home buyers energy bills.

GE and other companies are planning to meet an April 15, 2015 deadline for increased efficiency in Hot Water Heaters.  This is the start.

GeoSpring for Energy Efficient Homes

If you have questions,  leave a comment here.

 

 

 

International Code Council Adopts Energy Rating Index Compliance Option into the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code

This was released today!  The NAHB noted the approval through their Twitter Stream @HAHB on Tuesday!  More options to meet the Energy Code!  Great way to provide flexibility for all builders. One more reason for adoption of the 2015 Energy Code in Wichita/Sedgwick County.Factsheet on adding the HERS Index compliance path

TEXT OF ANNOUNCEMENT:
On October 7, 2013, the International Code Council (ICC) voted to incorporate an optional Energy Rating Index compliance path into the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) at its meeting in Atlantic City.

The ICC action establishes a new voluntary performance compliance path for the 2015 version of the IECC the “Energy Rating Index”.  The Energy Rating Index is a numeric score where “100” is equivalent to the 2006 IECC and “0” is equivalent to a net-zero energy home.  The current HERS Index Score is compatible to the Energy Rating Index requirements.  This means a builder can use a HERS rating to comply with the 2015 IECC.

The adopted new performance path also requires that a builder must meet the mandatory envelope requirements of the 2009 IECC.

The rating scores that were adopted by the IECC are:

Regions 1 and 2               52
Region 3                           51
Region 4                           54
Region 5                           55
Region 6                           54
Region 7 and 8                53

The new compliance path was proposed by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Institute of Market Transformation and the Britt/Makela Group.

RESNET backed an amendment that represented a compromise on higher rating scores that was reached between the Leading Builders of America and the cosponsors.  This amendment, however, was defeated.

RESNET Executed Director Steve Baden lauded the ICC’s action as a “victory for consumers and builders.  Homes complying through this path will be higher performing hence having lower utility bills while at the same time provides more flexibility to builders in meeting the code.  The action is also a big step for RESNET and the HERS industry.  With this new responsibility RESNET has to step up its game and make a concentrated effort to ensure consistent and accurate HERS Index Scores.”

Much appreciation must be expressed to our partners for their effective leadership.  Without the leadership of the by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Leading Builders of America, Institute of Market Transformation and the Brill/Makela Group this would not have been possible.  Support from the National Home Builders Association, North American Insulation Manufacturers Association, DOW, Green Building Coalition and the Southwest Energy Efficiency Program was critical as well as the more than 150 RESNET member companies and organizations added their voices in support of this effort.

Comments on The Previous Post

A few minutes ago, I posted a Press Release on changes to the 2015 Energy Codes.  If you read the list of groups supporting this change, you will find me listed.

Energy Codes have been in existence since 1992. They require levels of insulation, other energy efficient features and address how these items are installed.  There have been adjustments to them over the years. As the cost of electricity and other forms of energy rise, increasing the levels of insulation makes financial sense. As companies develop new products, for example the green sheathing used on many new homes in the Wichita area.

Wichita / Sedgwick County have not chosen to adopt an Energy Code. There is no legal requirement to build a home or building in Wichita and install insulation.

I support this change in the enforcement of codes because it is a ‘Free Market’ approach to the problem.

When people hear a home can be legally built with no insulation, they are very surprised.  Their expectation is that government requires that.  When my daughter was looking at buying a home in 2007-08; I heard one builder’s sales person tell her: “We build Energy Efficient Homes! We used to put R-19 in the attic; now with put R-25! That is Energy Efficient!”  Yet, the recommended code at that time for Wichita called for R-38 in the attic.

A ‘Free Market’ has been defined as the price a willing and informed seller and a willing and informed buyer agree upon!  I think that is important, to have willing and informed sellers and buyers.

If you don’t have an informed buyer; you can’t have a free market.  Consumers want something they value, if they are informed, they can make a decision that meets their needs. It may be a different decision than you would make with the same information.

This proposal would allow a builder to choose to add extra insulation to a home or to install more efficient equipment to his home as they choose to meet or exceed the competition.

This proposal allows a local government to require a level of energy performance from new homes. It allows the builder to decide how he wants to achieve that level. It doesn’t not require the local government to hire any additional inspectors or add training to existing inspectors.

When you look at buying a car, you can look at the Mileage Sticker on the window.  You may or may not use that in your final decision.  With this in the code, you can look at the sticker on the electrical box.  Then you can choose to use it or not use it in your decision.

A few years from now, when a new home is resold, the sticker will be there. Consumers can look at it and make informed decisions again.

Disclosure:  Yes,  part of our business is to Rate Homes for Energy Efficiency! This proposal if adopted by local governments could increase business.  It would also spur competition. It would not stop a home builder from training one of his employees to Rate his homes.  It would not stop an independent group, for example the Builders Association, from training someone and offering Ratings services to their members. It would not stop Energy Related Subcontractors from training an employee and offering Ratings to their customers.

The Press Release with links is found HERE