This article was originally published in the January/February 1996 issue of Home Energy Magazine. Some formatting inconsistencies may be evident in older archive content.


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Home Energy Magazine Online January/February 1996


Green Fiberglass I read with interest Remodeling Kitchens: A Smorgasbord of Energy Savings (Sept/Oct '95). I was particularly interested in the author's references to green building materials and his apparent endorsement of cellulose on the basis of its greenness.

I would like to point out, however, that while not mentioned in the article, fiberglass insulation provides superior thermal and acoustical performance benefits as well as environmental benefits based on recycled content. For example, in 1993, the fiberglass industry recycled more than 718,000,000 pounds of waste glass with 1994 projections estimated at 870,000,000 pounds. In comparison, the cellulose industry reported using 840,000,000 pounds of newsprint and cardboard in 1994.

Catherine L. Imus
North American Insulation Manufacturers Association
Alexandria, VA Editor's note: The fiberglass industry does recycle a lot of glass. However, cellulose insulation is consistently 75%-80% recycled content, by weight, while fiberglass contains under 20% recycled glass, industrywide. Some fiberglass insulation, including all that is for sale in California, is over 30% recycled.

Superficial Efficient Refrigerator Program The SERP (Super Efficient Refrigerator Program) contest was supposed to promote energy efficiency and ozone-friendly refrigeration. Instead, the contest rewarded a design that is energy-inefficient and contains ozone-destroying HCFC-141b in its insulation.

The contest advertises side-by-side doors and through-the-door conveniences as energy winners. This encourages marketwide consumption many times more than the winner's saved energy. The U.S. produced about 24 million refrigerators in the last three years. At least one-fourth (6 million) will have the touted side-by-side doors and/or through-the-door conveniences, resulting in a 10% efficiency loss. Using the same SERP valuation for wasted energy as for saved, these units will cost an extra $40 each. That means over $240,000,000 in efficiency losses from a style trend now encouraged by energy saver advertising.

HCFC-141b contributes to ozone depletion. According to Susan Solomon and Daniel L. Albritton of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, writing in Nature in May, 1992, If HCFC-141b were continuously emitted at the present rate of CFC-11 release (in kilograms) and emissions of the latter were immediately eliminated, the total ozone destroyed in the next 10 years or so would be about half that which would be obtained if CFC-11 emission were continued. They state that long-term ozone losses would be 87% less with HCFC-141b than with CFC-11.

Honest consumer education could produce real energy saving and atmospheric damage awareness. The SERP contest just promoted an energy-inefficient style trend and ozone depletion deception.

Noah S. Root
Ecolaw Institute Incorporated
Tahlequah, Oklahoma Crime, Glazing, and Creature Comforts The recent letter to the editor (Sept/Oct '95) regarding unexpected benefits of energy-efficient compact fluorescent lights prompts me to add another unexpected reason for an efficiency improvement-this time for double-glazed windows.

In their book Burglars on the Job: Streetlife and Residential Break-ins, Richard Wright and Scott Decker interviewed hundreds of successful burglars. Among many conclusions, the authors found that burglars avoid houses with double-glazed windows and storm windows. Apparently burglars fear that the double-crash caused by breaking these windows while gaining entry is more likely to catch a neighbor's attention than breaking a single-glazed window.

So double-glazed windows may not be as effective as a Rottweiler, but Rottweilers don't save energy and increase comfort.

Edgar Doherty
Tampa, FL Editor's note: Many Rottweilers do indeed increase comfort, and may very well save energy too. The average 70-pound Rottweiler emits 500 btu/h, saving a natural gas-heated home about 16 ft3 per day of fuel, assuming it stays inside. Of course, in the summer, the latent and sensible cooling loads will be higher ...

Lamp Ban Bums Violet-Grower Hello-found your Web Page on Internet. I'm looking for information on the implications of the National Energy Policy Act of 1992 that requires manufacturers to offer bulbs that use less energy. I'm a grower of African violets and use many 48-inch 40-watt bulbs (as do my colleagues). I have heard that these bulbs will no longer be produced after October 31, 1995 and expect to see a public outcry like when Coca Cola changed its recipe. Hoarding and general unhappiness about the need to invest in new fixtures may resound in my community and other fluorescent light user camps. Ken Barbi
Annapolis, MD
( Editor's reply: The Energy Policy Act will affect incandescent reflector lamps and 4-foot medium bi-pin, 2-foot U-shaped, 8-foot slimline and 8-foot high output fluorescent lamps. Some 48-inch, 40-watt lamps will no longer be available (see following table), but no new fixtures (nor even ballasts) should be needed to make the change. The least efficient lamps, which are also the most commonly available and the cheapest, will be affected.

The Act does not set standards for specialty lamps, defined as:

  • Fluorescent lamps designed to promote plant growth.
  • Fluorescent lamps specifically designed for cold temperature applications.
  • Colored fluorescent lamps.
  • Impact-resistant fluorescent lamps.
  • Reflectorized or aperture lamps.
  • Fluorescent lamps designed for use in reprographic equipment.
  • Lamps primarily designed to produce radiation in the ultraviolet region of the spectrum.
  • Lamps with a Color Rendering Index (CRI) of 82 or greater.

Affected fluorescent lamp types
Lamp Type and Wattage Allowed Disallowed Exempt

T12 Full Wattage RE70  Cool White RE80 (rare 
(e.g. 40W, 75W, (rare earth, or Warm White earth lamps 
110W) triphosphor,  Lite White with a CRI 80-89)
  lamps with White  Natural
T10 (e.g. 40W) CRI 70-79) Daylight  CW Deluxe
    WW Deluxe

T12 Energy  RE70 Daylight RE80
Saving Cool White WW Deluxe Natural
(e.g. 34W, Warm White   CW Deluxe
60W, 95W) Lite White

T8 RE70 None RE80
(e.g. 30W-36W)

Source: National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA)

Education Needed I was amused by the title of an article in your Sept/Oct edition: Energy Education: A Kilowatt is a Terrible Thing to Waste. How can a Joule per second be wasted? It is not an amount, it is a rate, like MPH or RPM. Your author should have been concerned with wasting kilowatt-hours, or perhaps kilojoules (amounts of energy).

It is not uncommon in the general press to see statements such as The power station produced 100 megawatts of power last year. One would expect a magazine specializing in energy matters to do better.

Room for energy education perhaps!

Dr. Richard Burton
Principal Engineer-Renewable Energy
The Botswana Technology Centre
Gaborone, Botswana Editor's reply: Thanks for pointing out our gaffe. It is true that the press is notorious for confusing energy and power. And the title clearly mixes the two, adding to the confusion. But a flow of energy (power) can be wasted, and given that utilities charge at least their larger customers for kWh and kW, unecessary power demands are also of concern.



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