This article was originally published in the November/December 1994 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 1994
ASTM Addresses Loose-Fill Settling. The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) may be about to settle the debate between fiberglass and cellulose manufacturers over settled densities of their respective products. ASTM is currently evaluating a standard test method for installed density and thickness characteristics for fiberglass and cellulose. The ASTM committee will also produce a new Standard Guide for developing uniform coverage charts on bag labels of all loose-fill insulation. In addition to addressing the ongoing disputes between the fiberglass and cellulose industries, these two standards will also address the call for one standardized test for all loose-fill insulation materials by the Insulation Contractors Association of America. Energy Design Update, June 1994, Cutter Information, 37 Broadway, Arlington, MA 02174. Tel: (617)641-5118; Fax: (617)648-1950.
Build Tight and Ventilate Right. The Minnesota Department of Public Service revised the Minnesota Energy Code to include air-tightness and ventilation options. The minimum code includes some air-tightness and ventilation requirements, but the builders are encouraged to build the home to a higher standard called Category 1, making the house even tighter and adding mechanical ventilation. To qualify as a Category 1 house, a continuous vapor retarder and air barrier must be installed on the interior, along with a continuous barrier on the exterior, to protect against wind wash. Exterior joints, rim joists, electrical boxes, fans, the tops of interior partition walls, and rim joists and foundations between wall assemblies must be sealed to prevent air leakage. A mechanical ventilation system must provide 0.35 air changes per hour delivered to all habitable rooms. Home Builders' Energy Update, Spring 1994, Minnesota Department of Public Service, 200 Metro Square Building, 121 7th Place East, St. Paul, MN 55101-2145. Tel: (612)296--5175.
Fuel Switching in Wisconsin. An electric and a gas utility in Wisconsin are teaming up to encourage customers to convert from electric to gas water heating. Customers in 66 towns can get a rebate of $170 from Wisconsin Power & Light (WP&L), in addition to a rebate of $100 from Wisconsin Gas if they convert. The high-efficiency gas water heaters must meet standards mandated by the state's Public Service Commission. The total rebate of $270 can pay for about half the cost of the new water heaters, while savings on a customer's energy bill can make up the balance within three years, according to Ruth Wilson of Wisconsin Gas. Both utilities gain from the fuel-switching program: the gas company boosts gas sales in the non-heating season, and the electric company reduces its summer peak load. The rebates are being marketed through direct mail and newspaper ads. Utility Spotlight, July 11, 1994, Utility Spotlight Limited, P.O. Box 114, Orangeburg, NY 10962. Tel: (914) 359-1972; Fax: (914)359-3328.
Energy Labels for Doors. The National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC) has developed a procedure for rating and labeling the energy efficiency of doors. Since door components are often assembled by prehangers, labeling would be a two-part process. Door manufacturers would put a label on the edge of the door slab with a permanent NFRC energy label showing energy performance of the slab with various combinations of glass and frame. Prehangers would then use this information for a second label representing the completed door. NFRC expects to formally adopt the new rating system this year. Energy Design Update, July 1994, Cutter Information, 37 Broadway, Arlington, MA 02174. Tel: (617)641-5118; Fax: (617)648-1950.
Edison Provides Off-Grid PV Service. Southern California Edison is offering stand-alone photovoltaic electric service to homes, businesses, and government facilities too far from the grid for economical line extension. The systems will provide a minimum of 1 kilowatt (peak), providing approximately 2,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year. SCE will contract with independent businesses for installation and maintenance of the equipment. Under the $1 million, three-year pilot program, customers will lease, with the option to purchase, a solar system for a flat monthly fee based on the actual cost of installation. Average monthly energy and maintenance payments could range from $150 to $300, depending on energy use and backup power options. SCE's non-solar ratepayers will not bear any of the costs for the program. Energy and Housing Report, May 1994, Allan L. Frank Associates, 9124 Bradford Road., Silver Spring, MD 20901-4918. Tel (301)565-2532; Fax (301)565-3298.
Building Codes Assistance Project. A new initiative called the Building Codes Assistance Project (BCAP), will work with states to implement new and improved building codes. The Alliance to Save Energy, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy are collaborating on the project to help overcome ineffective compliance strategies, poor enforcement, lack of training, and resistance from the construction industry. BCAP hopes to bring states with inefficient residential codes up to the Model Energy Code standards, by providing direct advocacy, regulatory policy development, and strategic field support. According to BCAP, 28 states have inefficient residential codes and 40 states have inefficient commercial energy codes. Improving just the residential codes could save 7.2 trillion Btus annually, the group says. The Energy Newsbrief, June 16, 1994, IRT Environment, P.O. Box 10990, Aspen, CO 81612-9689. Tel: (303) 927-3155; Fax: (303) 927-9428.
Conservation Clips was compiled by Jeanne Byrne of Home Energy.
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