This article was originally published in the November/December 1995 issue of Home Energy Magazine. Some formatting inconsistencies may be evident in older archive content.
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Home Energy Magazine Online November/December 1995
DOE Withdraws Tighter Water Heater Standard. The Department of Energy (DOE) has withdrawn a proposed electric water heater standard that would have increased the minimum efficiency to 189%. Because only heat pumps can meet this standard, it would have effectively banned the installation of electric resistance water heaters. DOE claimed it received over 8,000 comments from national trade associations, manufacturers, utilities, members of Congress, and retailers. These groups expressed concern about the higher cost of heat pump water heaters and the effect of proposed standards on low-income households and households with small electric water heaters placed in tight spaces. DOE will continue to study these issues. DEED Digest, Spring 1995. American Public Power Association, 2301 M St., NW, Washington, DC 20037. Tel:(202)467-2900; Fax:(202)467-2910.
A Window as Thick as a Wall. Thermotech Windows Ltd. recently unveiled a prototype window unit with an R-20 insulating glass panel. The window's five layers of glass have multiple soft low-e coatings and are separated by Edgetech's SuperSpacer, a silicon foam spacer with a high insulating value. Xenon gas fills are used to provide maximum thermal resistance. The frame, from Accurate Dorwin, has one of the widest glazing cavities available, and is made from foam-filled pultruded fiberglass. This frame, when combined with triple glazing and insulating spacers, forms the most energy-efficient window ever made. Thermotech's R-20 window is not currently in production, and no cost estimates are available; the company simply wanted to prove that it could be done. Solplan Review, May 1995. 208-1280 Seymour St., Vancouver, BC V7L 4L2. Tel:(604)689-1841; Fax:(604)689-1841.
Twin-Coated Glazings. Southwall Technologies of Palo Alto, California, has introduced a new window coating, TC-88, that is the first to be covered on both sides with optical control materials. Replacing Southwall's HM-88 coating with TC-88 raises the R-value of standard argon gas-filled windows from R-4 to R-6.3. Each side of TC-88 has two layers of indium oxide, with a layer of silver oxide between them. The individual layers are applied to each side of the film as it spins between refrigerated rolls in a vacuum chamber. Then the entire 6 ft x 8,000 ft film is rerolled in a particle-free clean room to avoid scratching it. Windows with the TC-88 coating will be available from Hur Millwork of Medford, Massachusetts, for about $35 to $42 per ft2. Popular Science, August 1995. 2 Park Ave., New York, NY 10016. Tel:(212)779-5000; Fax: (212) 481-8062.
Good News and Bad for Efficient Washers. Two separate studies of energy-efficient washing machines suggest that while the horizontal axis machines are considerably more efficient than their vertical axis counterparts, consumers balk at the more efficient design. A study conducted by the High-Efficiency Laundry Metering and Market Analysis (THELMA) project has finished laboratory testing and has issued its prelimary results: The six horizontal machines tested were found to be about twice as energy-efficient as the other machines, and they used 20% less water. In the next phase of the study, 92 homes will have their existing machines monitored before they are replaced with horizontal-axis machines, which will then be monitored in turn.
The other study, conducted by Staber Industries, which manufactures a horizontal-axis machine, suggests that mass retailers are not prepared to educate consumers about the benefits of these efficient, but higher-priced machines. But all is not lost: the Consortium for Energy Efficiency is reviving the washing machine initiative it launched two years ago, and, in Northern California, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is offering a $150-$225 rebate on energy-efficient washers through mid-November 1995. Demand-Side Technology Report, August 1995. Cutter Information Corp., 37 Broadway, Suite 1, Arlington, MA 02174-5552. Tel:(617)641-5118; (800) 964-5118; Fax:(617)648-1950.
NCAT Launches Clearinghouse for Multifamily Administrators. Thanks to a HUD grant, the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) is establishing a clearinghouse for information about energy efficiency and resource conservation in public and assisted housing. Aiming to demystify building science for housing project administrators, the program will collect, develop, and disseminate information about retrofitting multifamily buildings to make them more efficient. The program's staff will include housing and energy experts, as well as technical transfer specialists, and they will offer one-on-one technical assistance and training. The program should be in place by the end of this year, and should span at least two years. Appropriate Technology Voice, Winter 1995. NCAT, P.O. Box 3838, Butte, MT 59702. Tel:(406)494-4572; Fax:(406)494-2905.
DOE Pushes Setback T-stats. Having learned from a 1993 survey by the Energy Information Administration that only 11% of U.S. households have setback thermostats, the Department of Energy (DOE) advocates their use as a convenient and inexpensive way to save energy. However, the survey did find that 48% of the respondents turn down their thermostats manually before they go to sleep, while slightly more than 25% admit to keeping thermostats over 70deg. during the day in the winter. Drexel Insulation Report, March/April 1995. Center for Insulation Technology, MEM Department, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA 19104. Tel:(215)895-1833; Fax:(215)895-1478.
A More Efficient Fridge. Whirlpool's Super Efficient Refrigerator Program (SERP) has outdone itself. While its original unit achieved a 29% energy reduction, its new models exceed U.S. Department of Energy efficiency standards by 38%-41%. The design differs from that of the original SERP only in its incorporation of vacuum panel insulation, AURA Superinsulation from Owens-Corning, in the freezer sidewall panel. This insulation consists of rigid, high-density fiberglass enclosed in a sealed, evacuated stainless steel shell. The new models retain the high-efficiency compressor, improved condenser fan motor, and defrost control system of the original. The new unit comes in 22, 25, and 27 ft3 models, all of which are available in the regions of the twenty-four utilities that sponsor the SERP program. They use 561, 641, and 658 kWh per year, respectively. The 22 ft3 model will be marketed nationally under Whirlpool's Energy Wise label. Demand-Side Technology Report, August 1995. Cutter Information Corp., 37 Broadway, Suite 1, Arlington, MA 02174-5552. Tel:(617)641-5118; (800)964-5118; Fax:(617)648-1950.
Arizona a Holdout for CFCs. In April of this year, Governor Fife Symington of Arizona signed a bill which allows for the legal possession, use, and manufacture of CFCs in his state. The governor claims that the people of Arizona are sick and tired of bad science and big government managing their lives.... Arizona's people should have the authority to make decisions about Arizona's environment (emphasis ours). This bill defies federal law and international treaties banning these refrigerant chemicals because of their proven deterioration of the ozone layer. Contracting Business, May 1995. Penton Publishing, Inc., 1100 Superior Ave., Cleveland, OH 44115-2543. Tel:(216)696-7000; Fax:(216)696-7670.
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