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January/February 2009 Editorial: Now We Know the Value of Energy Star
The elections overshadowed a press release by Energy Star announcing a settlement with LG, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of appliances and consumer electronics. That’s a pity because the settlement sends an important message to manufacturers. It also reveals how valuable LG thinks the Energy Star endorsement actually is. [continue reading]
November/December 2008 Editorial: Heat Pump Water Heaters—Another Prius in the Basement?
It was good news to learn that Energy Star has finally announced specifications for water heaters. The specification for heat pump water heaters is particularly welcome, since these products have an unusually large savings potential. A heat pump water heater can reduce water-heating energy by half, which translates into over 1,500 kWh per year in many homes. Nearly 40% of American homes use electric water heaters, so the market is huge. This market is unlikely to be ... [continue reading]
September/October 2008 Editorial: Libertarian Paternalism and Saving Energy
Remember the old TV show “Father Knows Best” from the mid 1950s? As with any TV sitcom, there were lots of jokes, funny dialogue, and plot twists often leading to difficult situations that needed working out. Of course, the one thing you could count on was Dad—played by Robert Young in the series—finding the solution, since he exemplified the paternalistic nature of American family life at that time. [continue reading]
July/August 2008 Editorial: Juneau Saves Electricity in a Hurry
What do you do when the price of electricity suddenly jumps fivefold? This was the dilemma faced by the residents of Juneau, Alaska, when an avalanche suddenly cut the transmission line to their source of cheap hydropower. The answer is conserve, conserve, and (in case you weren’t paying attention), conserve. In only a few weeks, Juneau’s electricity consumption fell 30% (see Figure 1). This represents the largest and fastest regional reduction in electricity ... [continue reading]
May/June 2008 Editorial: Who Is Going to Build the Zero Energy Home?
You could easily have overlooked a quiet change in recent statements by the world’s leading climate change researchers. Everyone knew that the goals set forth in the Kyoto Protocol were baby steps on the road to achieving much greater reductions in carbon emissions. Even though only a few countries—and the United States is not among them—will achieve those goals, plans for even greater reductions are under way. Now most ... [continue reading]
One Part Perspiration, Five Parts Inspiration
ACI trains home performance professionals through national and regional conferences and through the Web. Last week I participated in my eighth ACI national conference. The annual conference is where I go to network; learn about all aspects of home performance; recruit authors for Home Energy Magazine; and best of all, be inspired. Here are a few of the people that I ran into last week who inspire me: Don Fugler does research through the Canada ... [continue reading]
March/April 2008 Editorial: Reflections on the Consumer Electronics Show
The 2008 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is already ancient history, and the 140,000 participants, TV cameras, and bloggers have returned home to quieter lives. But it’s still worth reflecting on this most amazing assemblage of new products, trends, and controversies, all seen through the eyes of Home Energy. First, the name CES could sometimes have been taken to stand for Consumer Environment Show, Consumer Efficiency Show, and of course Consumer Energy Show. Being green is ... [continue reading]
January/February 2008 Editorial: The Afterlife of a CFL
The CFL is a poster child for energy efficiency but sometimes in ways that we might not want it to be. To be sure, the CFL has a wonderful record of constantly improving quality, applicability, and reliability all the while falling in price. After faithfully saving consumers electricity for 6,000 hours, the CFL eventually flickers out and must be thrown away. That’s where the adventure begins. CFLs contain minute amounts of mercury, which qualifies ... [continue reading]
November/December 2007 Editorial: Energy Efficiency Pioneers
OK, there’s a new energy-saving product on the market. It might even be the fruit of government-funded research. But it’s expensive and available from only a few, small manufacturers (or perhaps just one manufacturer). The price would surely fall if economies of scale kick in. But investors don’t understand the energy efficiency market and are reluctant to supply the needed capital. Nothing happens. The country—indeed the world&... [continue reading]
Alaska Solar Question
Michele writes, "I live in rural Alaska where the cost of fuel is close to 5.00 per gallon for stove oil. I am thinking of switching to electrical heaters. Our house has a great southern exposure. Is there any small solar power equipment that could power a 1350 kw heater? Thanks." [continue reading]