New and Notable

July 01, 2012
July/August 2012
A version of this article appears in the July/August 2012 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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The German Sustainability Award for 2011 has been given to the ecoPOWER 1.0, Europe’s first micro-cogeneration system (mCHP) for detached, single- and two-family houses. Earlier CHP versions have been mainly for larger buildings or building complexes. The new, smaller version generates much of the electricity the building needs, and uses the remaining energy, which usually is wasted in electric generation, to provide heating and hot water.

The ecoPOWER 1.0 micro-cogeneration system. (Valiant)

The ecoPOWER 1.0, introduced to the German market in mid-2011, is a joint product of Honda, the Japanese producer of motor vehicles and engines, and Vaillant, a German heating and ventilation company. Operated by gas, it was cited by the award’s jury for its 92% efficiency and for the fact that it emits only about half the CO2 that conventional systems do.

It is the first European system to bring recent advances in gas engine technology into the home, and is made up of a cogeneration unit from Honda, a 300-liter storage tank, a wall-mounted gas condensing boiler for peak loads, and a control system. Vaillant Group CEO Carsten Voigtlander says the unit was the first “developed especially for optimal operation in smaller residential buildings.” He continues, “We are opening a wide market for the decentralization of heat and power generation.”

The sales potential looks good, as Germany offers a number of incentives to people who install this sort of system. They pay no tax on the electricity they generate, get their fuel taxes refunded, and even get paid if they feed excess electricity into the grid. Cogenerational systems for homes are in their infancy in the United States, but industry experts expect them to catch on as they become more commonplace in Europe and Japan.

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For more information on ecoPOWER 1.0, visit

The German Sustainability Award is presented annually by the Stiftung Deutscher Nachhaltigkeitspreis, an agency supported by the government and private-interest groups. The ecoPOWER 1.0 was the leader in the category Germany’s Most Sustainable Products/Services.

—Ted Shoemaker
Ted Shoemaker is a now-retired writer and editor based in Frankfurt, Germany.



RESNET App Available

(The Energy Conservatory)

The Energy Conservatory recently announced the new iTEC RESNET application, which can be downloaded for free from iTunes. The app is designed for HERS raters measuring building airtightness, and makes it easy to comply with the data collection and reporting requirements of the RESNET One Point Airtightness Test, as specified in chapter 8, section 802.5 of the RESNET Performance Testing Standards.

The app works with the blower door airtightness-testing equipment manufactured by The Energy Conservatory. It allows the users to enter data, calculate results, record information, display test results, and e-mail an HTML report. Project files can be geotagged and time stamped, and a single photograph from the camera roll can be linked to the project file.

The iTEC RESNET app is compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPod Touch 3G and 4G and iPad. It requires iOS 4.0 or later.

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Download the iTEC RESNET app at





Tankless Water Heaters To Buy or Not to Buy


One of the homes used in the study with two water heaters installed. (Ben Schoenbauer)

Water heating is the second-largest energy user in U.S. homes. It is also a very inefficient energy user, with typical equipment efficiencies around 60%. The Center for Energy and Environment, with funding from the Minnesota Office of Energy Security, recently completed a two-year field-monitoring project to determine if high-efficiency tankless water heaters could help to solve this problem.

The study monitored ten homes and found a 37% savings of water-heating energy per household (or about 6,000 kBtu per home per year) for replacing a typical natural-draft storage water heater with a tankless one. However, these savings were not enough to justify buying a tankless water heater due to the low cost of natural gas and the high installation costs. The study also determined that without considerable rebates, the simple payback for these heaters would be 20 to 40 years, making widespread installations seem unlikely.

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The full data on this study can be found in the report Actual Savings and Performance of Natural Gas Tankless Water Heaters. To download the report, go to the Center for Energy and Environment’s web site:








ClimateMaster Exceeds 40 EER

Trilogy 40 Q-Mode. (Climatemaster)

ClimateMaster recently announced an efficiency breakthrough in its new Trilogy 40 Q-Mode series. This is the first series of geothermal heat pumps certified by the Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) to exceed 40 energy efficiency ratio (EER) under ground loop (GLHP) conditions.

The Trilogy 40 utilizes variable-speed technology to provide a wide range of heating and cooling capacities, with the ability to perfectly match loads to as low as 30% of maximum. In addition, the product’s patent-pending Q-Mode technology produces year-round domestic hot water on demand, even when space conditioning is not required.

The Trilogy 40 Q-Mode series is the outcome of a five-year collaboration between ClimateMaster and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), sponsored by the DOE Building Technologies program. Based on field tests and analysis by ORNL, the Trilogy 40 Q-Mode can save 55–65% of annual energy use and cost for space conditioning and water heating in residential applications, versus new minimum-efficiency (13 SEER) conventional systems; and 30–35% versus current state-of-the-art two-stage geothermal heat pumps.

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For more information on ClimateMaster, visit

The Trilogy 40 Q-Mode series is currently in limited production, with full availability scheduled for late this year.

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