This article was originally published in the March/April 1994 issue of Home Energy Magazine. Some formatting inconsistencies may be evident in older archive content.
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Home Energy Magazine Online March/April 1994
Toilets and Energy Consumption. Believe it or not, in cold climates toilets can indirectly use up to 1,400 kilowatt-hours of energy each year. Each time the tank fills up with cold water after being flushed, heat from the house is robbed as the tank slowly warms up. Installing water-conserving toilets and tank liners can help minimize this unnecessary use of energy. Solplan Review, August/September 1993), The Drawing Room Graphic Services Limited, Box 86627, North Vancouver, BC, CANADA, V7L4L2. Tel. and Fax: (604) 689-1841.
The Best Products for Saving Energy and Money. The October 1993 issue of Consumer Reports contains an entire section devoted to saving energy in the home, with articles on caulking, weatherstripping, setback thermostats, furnace retrofits, high-efficiency furnaces and heat pumps, energy-efficient dishwashers, and windows. The publication tested and rated weatherstripping, exterior caulking compounds, setback thermostats, replacement windows, and even dishwashers. Contact: Consumer Reports, P.O. Box 20156, Yonkers, NY, 10703, Tel: (914) 378-2000 or (800) 288-7898.
Plastic Fiber Batts. A Canadian company, E2 Development Corporation, is developing a new insulation batt product made entirely from recycled plastic soda bottles. The company is reported to have solved obstacles to producing strong fibers that can be made into a firm batt. These batts are much like fiberglass batts, but their fibers are twice as thick, they don't cause itching or scratching, they're easier to handle, and exposure to them doesn't pose health risks. Laboratory tests show the product to have R-values from R-3.8 to R-4.6 per inch. E2 Development plans to initially produce a 3-1/2 in. R-17 batt, which is expected to be available in late 1994. Energy Design Update, September 1993, Cutter Information Corporation, 37 Broadway, Arlington, MA 02174. Tel: (617) 648-8700; Fax: (617) 648-8707.
Thermal Energy Storage. The British have found that integrated thermal energy storage heating systems, originally designed for individual applications, also work well in group applications. In these systems, a central boiler is connected to a buffer store, which is in turn connected to individual energy storage by a distribution system. Each apartment or unit has independent thermal energy storage that provides space heating and water heating. When the individual store's energy level is drained, water from the central distribution system recharges it from the buffer store. By keeping the buffer store at a stable temperature, the boiler need only satisfy the buffer, which can then recharge several individual stores. This means that the boiler cycles less frequently, and the boiler and distribution systems can be smaller and less expensive. Other advantages include lower energy and installation costs, higher efficiencies, and rapid warm-up. CADDET Newsletter, No. 3, 1993, Swentiboldstraat 21, 6137 AE Sittard, The Netherlands. Tel: 31-46-595-224; Fax: 31-46-510-389.
Incredible Shrinking Fluorescents. In response to the National Energy Policy Act, which prohibits production of standard (T12, 4-ft.) cool-white fluorescent lamps after October 1995, some manufacturers are now producing skinnier lamps, which are reported to offer greater energy efficiency and color rendition. For example, a T8 (1 in. diameter, compared to 1.5 in. for T12s) uses about 20% less energy than a T12; using it in conjunction with electronic ballasts could boost energy savings to as much as 40%. While the T8s produce 5 to 10% less light than T12s, their color rendition ranges from 70 to 85, compared to about 62 from a T12, which means that things look more natural under them. Northwest Builder, October 1993, Iris Communications, Incorporated., 258 East 10th Ave., Suite E, Eugene OR 97401. Tel: (503) 484-9353; Fax: (503) 484-1645.
Permanent Light Socket Conversion. A company in Colorado - AWXCO in Arvada - is marketing a table lamp that has a compact fluorescent ballast inside the hollow base. The ceramic, ginger jar-style table lamp uses a Panasonic Quad lamp and a Toroidal (magnetic) ballast. The ballast has a design life of 130,000 hours, compared to a typical design life of 9,000 hours for electronic ballasts and 30,000 for magnetic ballasts. Also, purchasing replacement bulbs is less expensive than purchasing the whole CFL (with ballast). The lamp comes in three colors and is expected to be used in hotels, motels, and weatherization programs. American Public Power Association Deed Digest, Summer '92, 2301 M Street N.W., Washington, DC 20037-1484. Tel: (202) 467-2900; Fax: (202) 467-2910.
EPRI's Heat-Pump Water Heater. The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and Crispaire Corp of Atlanta have developed an advanced heat-pump water heater that is more efficient, less costly smaller, and easier to install, than conventional models. Designed for residential and small commercial applications, the unit can reduce water heating bills by as much two-thirds and can heat 200-300 gallons of water per day - far more than the average 64.3 gallons used by residential customers. The heat pump uses simple refrigeration technology (vapor compression) to heat water by absorbing heat from the air. The EPRI E-Tech unit was developed to overcome such barriers. Once in volume production, the cost is projected to be under $400, compared to $750-$4,000 for conventional units. End-Use News, Fall '93, EPRI, P.O. Box 10412, Palo Alto, CA 94303. Tel: (415) 885-2661).
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