Tag Archives: green building

Zero Electric Homes Get Charged Up in 5 States


Shea Homes Ardiente development features homes that have zero electricity costs. Shea developments in four other states offer the same feature. (Photo Courtesy Shea Homes)
Shea Homes' Ardiente development features homes that have zero electricity costs. Shea developments in four other states offer the same feature. (Photo Courtesy Shea Homes)

SolarCity®, a national leader in clean energy services, and Shea Homes, one of the country’s largest privately-held home builders, have partnered to make a “no electric bill” home available to homebuyers in all Shea Homes Active Lifestyle® and Trilogy® communities in Arizona, California, Florida, Nevada and Washington.

Branded as SheaXero the no electric bill home™, the partnership with SolarCity will make net-zero the standard offering at all ten of Shea’s Active Lifestyle and Trilogy Communities. SheaXero homes aim to achieve net-zero electric bills by generating Continue reading Zero Electric Homes Get Charged Up in 5 States

Consider the SRI When Choosing Cool Roofing Materials

Cool roofs feature very reflective material to keep the heat from building up. This one was installed on Kemper Hall at the Missouri State University in late 2011. (Courtesy Kirberg)
Cool roofs feature very reflective material to keep the heat from building up. This one was installed on Kemper Hall at the Missouri State University in late 2011. (Courtesy Kirberg)

The principle behind cool roof technology was no doubt born when humans noted the difference between how dark colored substances gathered and held heat compared to light colored substances.  Today, the scientific measurement applied to roofing that relates to this principle is called the Solar Reflectance Index, or SRI. Basically, the index states that a rating of zero defines how black deals with heat, and a rating of 100 defines how white does. When it comes to picking roof coverings, the SDI is one factor to consider when you want to minimize heat gain to help with cooling costs.

Late last year, Kirberg Company announced it had completed the installation of a new “Cool Roof” System at Missouri State University’s Kemper Hall,  in Springfield, Missouri.  The system specified was a Johns Manville product called DynaGlas® FR CR, (fire rated, cool roof). This roofing material has an SRI of 93 right after installation and one of 74, three years later.

According to Kirberg,  cool roof systems like the one installed for Kemper Hall are among the fastest growing commercial roofing systems in the industry. They’re a three-layer product with a cool roof, ceramic coating over top of a layer of fiberglass and a bottom layer of asphalt waterproofing. They are exceptionally resistant to wind and fire, as well as ultraviolet, ozone, and chemical exposure.

The Kemper Hall project is not the first roofing project that Missouri State has hired Kirberg Company to complete. The roof consisted of a total replacement, amounting to 400 squares. Earlier in the summer of 2011, Kirberg replaced the roof on the Plaster Student Union, the gathering and learning center for the students. The materials used for both roofs were Derbigum, a type of roof system that works to save and produce energy.  The student union roof took two weeks to complete, and amounted to 100 squares.


Gee, An Energy Efficient Hot Water Heater

The GeoSpring(TM) will save an average consumer $325 a year on their utility bills and curb costs related to the second biggest energy drain in the home. (Photo: GE)
The GeoSpring(TM) will save an average consumer $325 a year on their utility bills and curb costs related to the second biggest energy drain in the home. (Photo: GE)

It looks like General Electric has made headway in the battle to get electric hot water heaters to be more efficient. The company claims the average homeowner can save about $325 a year by installing its new hybrid hot water heater that uses a heat pump in conjunction with a standard electric resistance element. Gee.

Nearly all Americans (96 percent) think improved appliance efficiency is important for personal financial reasons, yet many homeowners don’t realize the water heater is the second single-biggest, energy-consuming appliance in homes, behind the HVAC system.

GE’s GeoSpring Hybrid Water Heater combines energy-saving heat-pump technology with traditional electric heating systems used in most conventional water heaters on the market today. This hybrid technology is designed to absorb heat in ambient air and transfer it into the water. Since this requires much less energy than the energy used to generate radiant heat – as used in a conventional electric tank water heater – the GeoSpring Hybrid Electric Water Heater is more economical to operate.

Besides saving money, GE’s product general manager for water products, Stephen Downer explains the environmental benefits this way:

Approximately 50 percent of U.S. households use a standard electric water heater. If 25 percent chose a GeoSpring instead of a standard 50-gallon electric water heater, more than four billion pounds of CO2 emissions on the U.S. grid could be avoided annually – equivalent to the annual emissions of more than 360,000 cars on U.S. roads. That’s a powerful way consumers can help the environment.

Other features of the GeoSpring include:

  • It has same footprint and electrical connections as the standard electric water heater, making it easy to install.
  • It provides the same amount of hot water as traditional 50-gallon standard electric water heaters.
  • Its integrated electronics on the control panel offer exclusive features, such as Vacation mode, which will lower the water temperature to 50 degrees for the duration of a trip, and then automatically reenergize itself on the day before the homeowner’s return.
  • It offers more control over water temperature, allowing you to adjust in one degree increments from 100 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.

State and local tax credits and utility rebates for purchasing the ENERGY STAR-qualified energy-efficient water heater may also be available to benefit consumers.

Pricing and availability

GeoSpring will be available at national retailers in March such as Lowe’s and Sears and national plumbing distributors such as Ferguson as well as many local retailers and distributors. Estimated retail price: $1,199-$1,299. More information on features and availability is right here.

Home Energy Management Program Takes Its Cue From What’s Happening Right Outside Your Window

How about turning over the management of a home’s heating and cooling to a super smart web-based entity? That’s more or less what’s coming down the pike for Texans this summer with implementations planned across the country as more utilities sign on.

Earth NetworksSM the operator of the largest weather, lightning and climate observation networks, andEnergyHub, Inc., a leading provider of home energy management software and systems, announce a new home demand response and energy efficiency program called e5SM. The patent-pending e5 program, which stands for ease, energy, efficiency, environment and earth, incorporates for the first time live, neighborhood-level weather conditions and forecasts into demand response programs that aim to reduce peak consumer demand to better manage grid load during extreme weather. According to Dave Oberholzer, products and business development director for Earth Networks Energy:

“Many utilities are interested in rolling out demand response programs, but user adoption is limited because consumers want to retain control of their thermostat and remain comfortable while saving both energy and money”

The program is designed to provide home energy efficiency without sacrificing comfort, while putting the consumer in control.

Utility Company Opportunities

The e5 program takes the burden off utilities to supply, install and maintain home thermostats because consumers play an active role in the program. When consumers choose to join, they select and install a program-compatible Internet-enabled thermostat that is available at major home improvement retailers and online. The program is launching with the 3M Filtrete™ Wi-Fi-enabled programmable thermostat, which includes EnergyHub’s user-friendly software that guides the consumer through the setup process and provides them with ongoing remote HVAC control.

Based on the consumer’s own selections, the e5 program maintains desired comfort level while optimizing energy use by pre-cooling or pre-heating in response to local weather, and when a demand response event is anticipated by forecasted conditions. Further, the e5 program provides homeowners with a home energy audit, which ranks the efficiency of the house using local weather conditions including temperature, wind and solar fluctuations. From the rankings, e5 provides a customized and prioritized list of recommended steps consumers can take to save energy and reduce costs for their home energy systems, which drive the majority of consumer demand during peak periods.

Uses Local Weather Information

Weather is the largest variable impacting home energy demand. To maximize effectiveness, the e5 program integrates data from more than 8,000 state-of-the-art Earth Networks weather stations installed at schools and public buildings around the country to provide live, hyper-local weather data for a customer’s location. In contrast, other approaches rely on weather data from an often distant location, such as an airport, with delayed reporting that may not represent actual current local conditions.

In developing the e5 program, Earth Networks and EnergyHub sought to overcome a major factor overlooked by many existing demand response programs – occupant comfort. Unlike existing demand response programs that turn off or cycle home thermostats on a pre-defined schedule regardless of the actual indoor temperature, e5 puts the consumer in control. With e5, users dynamically adjust their comfort settings using EnergyHub’s website and mobile apps.

The e5 program is available to all utilities, whether they have existing demand response programs or want to replace their current programs with a more consumer-oriented offering.