Keyword Exclusive — More Kentucky Living 2010 Energy Guide
Electric co-ops and other resources
More illuminating CFL facts
Clean up broken CFLs safely
CFL usage tips
When CFLs fail
Real cost of that old fridge
Weatherization Assistance Program
Energy Efficient Mortgages
Realtors go green
Invest in home improvements
Energy saving solutions for manufactured homes
Heating and cooling choices
Heat pumps and maintenance
Snow melt, icicles, and energy loss
Discover new products
Dispel energy myths
Kentucky Living 2009 Energy Guide
ELECTRIC CO-OPS AND OTHER RESOURCES
Your local energy cooperative has a wealth of energy-saving tips to help you reduce energy bills and increase indoor comfort levels.
Kentucky’s electric distribution cooperatives
(If you are an electric co-op member, then one of these co-ops provides your electricity.)
Big Sandy RECC
Blue Grass Energy Cooperative
Clark Energy Cooperative
Cumberland Valley Electric
Fleming-Mason Energy Cooperative
Hickman-Fulton Counties RECC
Inter-County Energy Cooperative
Jackson Energy Cooperative
Jackson Purchase Energy Corp.
Licking Valley RECC
Meade County RECC
Owen Electric Cooperative
Pennyrile Electric Cooperative
Salt River Electric Cooperative Corp.
Shelby Electric Cooperative
South Kentucky RECC
Taylor County RECC
Tri-County Electric Membership Corporation
(866) 441-1430 In-Home Energy Evaluation Program
West Kentucky RECC
Electric generation & transmission co-ops
Big Rivers Electric Cooperative
East Kentucky Power Cooperative
Tennessee Valley Electric Cooperative
Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives bring you energy-efficiency ideas on a wide range of topics. Go online to www.simplesavings.coop to download 18 informative bulletins and four videos for residential homes. You will also find eight bulletins for commercial and industrial owners.
Kentucky Department for Energy Development and Independence
Offers energy-saving tips for homeowners and information about renewable energy topics.
Kentucky Solar Partnership
To learn more about Kentucky’s solar initiative and incentives
United States Department of Energy (DOE)
Offers detailed information about everything from insulation options and how to use them, to choosing heating and cooling equipment.
For information about ENERGY STAR, how it works, and how appliances and other items qualify for ENERGY STAR ratings.
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MORE ILLUMINATING CFL FACTS
What are CFLs and how do they differ from standard incandescent light bulbs?
Incandescent lamps contain a filament—a piece of wire. Electric energy makes that wire glow. The glow provides the light. A CFL has a tiny cathode inside a tube coated with fluorescent material, which also contains a mercury amalgam pill. A ballast located in the CFL’s base controls the electrical flow. When electricity flows to the cathode, the cathode heats up and the mercury turns to a vapor that throws off ultraviolet light inside the tube. The fluorescent material absorbs the ultraviolet emissions given off by the mercury vapor, and the lamp then glows.
Do CFLs need longer “warm-up” time than standard incandescent bulbs to produce light?
Most people are familiar with linear fluorescent lamps (light bulbs)—the kind often found in offices. In the past, those lamps did require some warm-up time. CFLs are smaller versions of those lamps. The CFL was invented in the late 1980s and perfected in the 1990s. Over the years, the technology has gotten better.
Are CFLs appropriate for use in the majority of household lighting fixtures?
CFLs fit into most traditional household lighting fixtures. Newer CFLs are made to fit into the harp of an average lamp. Some are manufactured with a cover that has the traditional bulb shape to fit light fixtures with lamp shades that attach to bulbs. CFLs may not be appropriate for use in some fixtures such as antique lamps, but generally most CFLs will work just fine anywhere.
Do CFLs ever pose a fire threat when they are used to replace standard incandescent bulbs in standard household fixtures?
When a CFL responds to a power surge or a power failure, it can create a puff of smoke. Also, when CFLs are reaching end of use life, the light dims and might produce a more dramatic pop, emit a distinct odor, and maybe even release some smoke. However, CFL parts are not flammable and ballasts have systems designed to stop energy flow if CFLs get hot.
Consumers should always look for the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) symbol on CFL packaging. That means the UL, an independent laboratory, has tested the product and determined its best use and safety.
For more information about CFLs, go to www.KentuckyLiving.com and under the Keyword Search box type "cfl use."
Will standard incandescent bulbs ever be removed from the market? If so, when and why?
The Energy Efficiency Act of 2007 calls for a reduction in older lighting technologies beginning in 2012. The act pertains to the technology—not a particular product such as standard incandescent bulbs. However, 100-watt standard incandescent bulbs will be phased out in 2012. Standard incandescent bulbs of declining wattage will be phased out in succeeding years.
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CLEAN UP BROKEN CFLs SAFELY
Be sure to follow the instructions for the safe cleanup of broken CFL bulbs as given by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Here’s what the EPA recommends for cleaning up and disposing of broken CFLs:
• Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more.
• Shut down your forced-air heating or air-conditioning system.
• Restrict people and pets from the area where the breakage occurred.
Hard surface cleanup
• Use stiff paper or cardboard to scoop up fragments.
• Place fragments in a sealable plastic bag or a glass jar with a metal lid.
• Use duct tape or other sticky tape to remove any small remaining fragments or powder material.
• Use a damp paper towel or disposable wet wipe to wipe down the surface. Place the towel or wet wipe in the plastic bag or the glass jar.
• Do not use a broom or vacuum to remove fragments from hard surfaces.
Carpet or rug cleanup
• Carefully pick up broken fragments and place them in a sealable plastic bag or a glass jar with a metal lid.
• Use duct tape or other sticky tape to remove small fragments and powder.
• Vacuum the area where the CFL was broken if necessary.
• Remove the vacuum bag and put it in a sealable plastic bag. If your vacuum does not use bags, empty the canister placing debris in a sealable plastic bag. Wipe the canister with a wet paper towel or wet wipe.
• Discard clothing or bedding that comes in contact with broken glass or mercury-containing powder from a broken CFL. Do not wash clothing or bedding that comes in contact with broken glass or mercury-containing powder from a broken CFL because mercury fragments may contaminate washing machines or pollute sewage.
• Use a wet paper towel or disposable wet wipe to clean shoes that come in contact with broken CFL fragments or powder. Place the paper towel or wet wipe in a sealed plastic bag or glass jar for disposal.
• Dispose of cleanup materials by immediately placing them outdoors in a covered garbage container.
Future carpet or cleaning
• Shut off central forced-air heating or air-conditioning systems and open a window the next few times you vacuum a carpet or rug where a CFL has broken.
• When finished vacuuming, wait 15 minutes before closing the window and turning forced-air heating or air-conditioning systems back on.
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CFL USAGE TIPS
Consumers always want to make the most of products they purchase, including CFLs. To make sure consumers get the best use and longevity of CFLs, the U.S. Department of Energy offers these tips:
Get a grip Never hold the glass tube part of the CFL when installing it into a light fixture. Instead, hold the CFL by the ballast, the white plastic part.
Mind the switch For maximum use life and energy savings, keep CFLs on for 15 minutes or more each time you turn them on.
Choose for use Use CFLs labeled specifically for use on three-way sockets. Likewise, use only CFLs labeled for dimmer use on dimmer switches.
Check compatibility Electric timers and other controls are generally not compatible with CFLs. Check with manufacturers for controls before applying them with CFLs.
Open inside Install CFLs in open fixtures indoors. Because CFLs are sensitive to extreme temperatures, enclosed fixtures can shorten bulb life.
Close outdoors Use closed fixtures outdoors to protect CFLs from the elements.
Go online to www.EnergyStar.gov, click on FAQs, click on the “Search by topic” box, select “Lighting (CFS, Bulbs, Fixtures),” and hit “Go” for five pages of CFL topics.
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WHEN CFLs FAIL
If you don’t have a receipt from your retailer, ENERGY STAR offers these tips:
• Find the manufacturer’s name as printed on the CFL’s base.
• Visit the manufacturer’s Web site to contact that company’s customer service department to learn how to receive a refund or a replacement CFL.
• Report the failure
In order for their products to qualify for ENERGY STAR designation, companies that produce CFLs must offer a two-year limited warranty covering manufacturers’ defects. Also, ENERGY STAR monitors all early CFL failures. To report a product that failed before the time indicated on its packaging, e-mail the name of the CFL manufacturer and the product’s model number to email@example.com.
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A case of caulk may be your best purchase for sealing leaks.
Find a do-it-yourself energy checkup and extensive information on sealing and insulating by going to www.EnergyStar.gov and typing “2009 Energy Guide” in the Article Search box to download the 17-page guide.
Also, www.EnergyStar.gov offers a house chart and more information when you type in “seal and insulate” in the search box.
Beyond enhancing indoor comfort levels, there are economic reasons for insulating non- or underinsulated spaces inside your home. Noninsulated or poorly insulated spaces can be responsible for as much as 40 percent of a household’s energy use and high utility bills.
In attics, inadequate insulation allows warm air to escape in the winter and hot air to infiltrate the home in the summer. That’s why properly applying insulation in attics, knee walls, floors, ceilings, and walls where air leaks lurk is among the simplest, most cost-effective investments homeowners can make to keep heating and cooling costs down and indoor comfort levels high.
Here are insulation material options for doing the job:
Cellulose Made from recycled newspaper and packaged in bags, this material must be blown into household spaces. Machines are available on loan from home improvement retailers, and this is the easiest and most effective major weatherization project for homeowners to do themselves. Price varies according to the amount of material needed to achieve the desired R-value.
Fiberglass batts Pink, white, or yellow in color, this do-it-yourself-friendly material comes in various R-values. Price varies according to roll size and R-value.
Fiberglass loose fill Made from molten glass spun into fiber and packaged in bags, this material must be blown into household spaces using machines that should be blown in by professionals only.
Spray-on foam insulation Made from polyurethane material or polyurethane mixed with soy or another bio-based material, it is generally more pricey to purchase and must be applied by a professional contractor. That it can seal even the smallest leak source is an advantage.
For more information about insulation material alternatives and appropriate application, go online to www.energysavers.gov and type “Types of Insulation” in the search box to find the link.
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Note: This section was printed in the Kentucky Living 2010 Energy Guide in some regions but not the entire state, so we are including it again here.
When Alice Book began renovations on her 100-year-old house in Grayson, she never imagined that her local electric co-op would help out with the project. But right about the time Book’s contractor had removed the home’s century-old wood siding and was ready to re-insulate the entire building, she learned about Grayson Rural Electric Co-op’s Button Up program.
The Button Up program pays Grayson RECC members up to $400 for insulation upgrades—primarily insulation, windows, and doors—that homeowners make to reduce their residential energy usage. To qualify, a home must be at least two years old and use electricity as the primary heat source. At 100 years old and electrically heated, Book’s home was well within the program’s qualification guidelines.
The incentive covered half of Book’s $800 insulation costs.
“I applied for the program, bought the insulation, and had it installed,” she says. “After co-op personnel inspected what we had done, I received the payment.”
She received something else, too. One day while leaving the co-op office, a customer service agent handed her a case of caulk.
“It was extremely helpful because while we had the siding off we caulked every joint or other place air could infiltrate the house,” she says.
All told, Book says she’s already seen a 50 percent savings on her electric bill simply from applying insulation and caulking ductwork joints, seams, joints between duct sections, air handler supply plenums, flexible duct connections, and around windows and doors.
For more information about the Button Up program and other Grayson RECC incentives for their members, visit www.graysonrecc.com. Most Kentucky electric co-ops offer this program, including 16 co-ops who get their power from East Kentucky Power Cooperative.
Be sure to talk to your local electric co-op before doing anything. Some will have different incentives and programs to help you.
Before you build a new home, consider building an ENERGY STAR or Touchstone Energy home. Call your local electric co-op for incentives and suggestions for how to build a house that will use 20-30 percent less energy.
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REAL COST OF THAT OLD FRIDGE
So you’ve replaced your old refrigerator with a newer, much more efficient model. But what about that old fridge: will it wind up in the garage or basement to cool a couple of 12-packs or keep bait fresh for the weekend’s fishing trip? Or perhaps it remains on standby to keep the Thanksgiving turkey cold until the big day? Is that outdated appliance empty or near empty most of the time? If it is, it’s costing you some cash.
A refrigerator’s annual operating cost is directly related to the size, model, and age of the appliance.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy:
A 1993-2000 (not ENERGY STAR) model 19.0-21.4 cubic foot, top freezer refrigerator
• Uses 857 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity annually
• At Kentucky’s average electric rate of $0.0763 per kWh
• It costs $65.39 annually to keep the appliance running
A new, more efficient ENERGY STAR-rated refrigerator of the same capacity and configuration
• Costs $31 per year to operate
• A savings of $170 or more over five years
Find out how much it costs to operate your older model refrigerator. Go online to www.energystar.gov and search for the “Refrigerator Retirement Calculator” and see if it’s time to get rid of your old fridge.
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WEATHERIZATION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
The Weatherization Assistance Program administered by the Kentucky Housing Corporation has help for some homeowners who want to increase their property’s energy efficiency and lower their electric bills.
Homeowners who qualify receive an on-site energy assessment by an expert who provides customized recommendations for making home improvements that will result in long-term savings on energy costs. Following the assessment, homeowners may receive insulation installation to uninsulated or underinsulated areas, air duct sealing and repair, or replacement of inefficient heating systems.
The program is especially aimed at helping low-income individuals, families with children, the elderly, and people with disabilities improve their homes’ energy efficiency and lower their electric bills. Local Community Action Agency staff help homeowners with the application process.
For details, go online to www.kyhousing.org or call (800) 633-8896.
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ENERGY EFFICIENT MORTGAGES
Some homebuyers who purchase energy-efficient homes or refinance their current homes in order to make energy-saving improvements to them could qualify for a special, federally guaranteed mortgage program.
Established by Congress as a pilot program in 1992, the Energy Efficient Mortgages (EEM) program was expanded nationwide in 1995. The mortgage program is designed to make homeownerships more affordable by helping owners save money on utility bills.
EEMs provide mortgage insurance for a prospective homebuyer to purchase a home or for homeowners to refinance their main residences and incorporate the cost of energy-efficient improvements into their mortgages. Borrowers do not need to qualify for the additional money contained in EEMs, and do not make a down payment on that money.
Local banks, mortgage companies, and savings and loan associations fund the mortgages. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) insures EEM loans.
Anyone who meets Federal Housing Administration (FHA) standard income requirements, and who can make the loan’s monthly mortgage payments, can apply for an EEM. The cost of energy-related improvements and energy-savings estimates must be determined by an energy consultant.
To learn more about the Energy Efficient Mortgage program. go to www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/eem/eemhome.cfm.
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REALTORS GO GREEN
Today’s homebuyers say that a house’s energy efficiency factors significantly into purchasing decisions. As consumers become increasingly aware of the connection between home energy efficiency and the overall cost of living in their homes, some National Association of Realtors (NAR) members are responding by becoming experts in ways to match energy-conscious homebuyers with energy-efficient properties.
According to Al Medina, director of NAR’s Green Designation program, member real estate agents are learning to market energy-efficient homes for sellers, match buyers with those homes, and to educate potential homebuyers about how a home’s energy-efficiency features will save them money in the long run.
Here in Kentucky, the designation program is also getting off the ground, according to the office of Communications and Education of the Kentucky Association of Realtors (KAR).
Local boards of Realtors should be able to identify agents who either have the Green Designation or are taking the courses necessary to earn it.
To find the KAR Board of Realtors offices in your area, go online to www.kar.com.
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INVEST IN HOME IMPROVEMENTS
Kentuckians’ interest in energy efficiency is not only good for saving on their own energy bills, it’s helping to improve the state’s inventory of housing stock as well, said Charla Jackson Peter, spokesperson for the Kentucky Housing Corporation (KHC).
According to the Kentucky Housing Corp., more than 59 percent of homes in the state were built before 1980. That means many do not contain features such as energy-efficient windows and doors, adequate and appropriate insulation, and efficient heating and cooling equipment. As a result, Kentucky ranks 22nd in the nation in terms of energy use consumption and 7th nationwide for total per capita energy consumption.
Whenever owners invest in home improvement projects, they increase the quality of their properties. And now that homeowners are particularly mindful of their homes’ energy costs, they are more likely to make energy-related improvements such as replacing outdated and inefficient heating and cooling systems, household appliances, roofing, and other equipment. Likewise, weatherization projects such as adding insulation to uninsulated or underinsulated areas and sealing ductwork make homes more efficient and increase the quality of the property. Such improvements are especially key to enhancing the quality of older homes.
Though these investments may not translate to higher prices at the point of sale, they can make a difference to prospective buyers who are concerned about the amount of money they can expect to spend on monthly utility bills.
As more and more homeowners make energy-wise improvements, the number of better quality homes will rise. Over time, the number of improved older properties will outstrip the number of outdated, less efficient homes.
“That’s good for the entire inventory of housing stock,” Jackson Peter says.
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ENERGY SAVING SOLUTIONS FOR MANUFACTURED HOMES
Many energy-conscious mobile homeowners believe there’s not much they can do to make their manufactured homes more energy efficient. And though mobile home construction does make some energy-saving improvements more complicated, there are many other simple steps mobile homeowners can take to increase their homes’ energy efficiency and reduce energy costs as well.
“There really is no way to add insulation into the walls of mobile homes unless you rip out entire walls,” says Dan Hitchcock, assistant customer service manager, Inter-County Energy Co-op, in Danville. “But there are other energy-saving changes mobile homeowners can make.”
According to Hitchcock, mobile homeowners can start saving both energy and cash by replacing standard incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) in fixtures throughout their homes.
He also advises mobile homeowners to:
• Replace windows standard in mobile home construction with more energy-efficient windows.
• Exchange exterior doors standard in mobile homes with energy-efficient alternatives.
• Swap standard manufactured home furnace with more efficient heat pump system.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers a handbook specifically designed to help mobile homeowners increase the energy efficiency of their manufactured homes. The guide includes an energy audit checklist specifically for manufactured homes and step-by-step guidelines for replacing windows and doors, sealing ductwork, and maintaining heating and air-conditioning systems.
Download the free handbook: Manufactured Homes: Saving Money by Saving Energy
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HEATING AND COOLING CHOICES
Geothermal heat pumps represent just one way Kentuckians can heat and/or cool their homes. Electric furnaces and air-source heat pumps are other options.
Geothermal heat pumps use looped lengths of pipe buried underground or placed in ponds or wells to draw heat from soil or water, then deliver warmth to a duct or radiant floor system inside a home. In the summer, the system delivers cool air by drawing warm indoor air through the duct system and passing it outdoors.
Geothermal systems may also be used to help heat water for bathing and other household uses.
A geothermal heat pump is one unit that functions as an air conditioner and a heater, and will heat and cool the house for less than one-third that of an older AC unit and resistance furnace (or split system).
Systems generally have a use life of about 20 years, and can save homeowners up to 60 percent on heating and cooling bills. Although a geothermal system costs more up front to install, it will pay for itself over time with lower energy bills.
Electric furnaces use electricity to generate warm air and deliver warm air though a duct system located throughout the home. The system uses fans to move air over either three or seven coils. The heated air is then moved through supply ducts. Return ducts deliver the air back to the furnace.
Resistance heaters are about one-third as efficient as geothermal heat pumps. Resistance coils within the system are generally set at 5 kilowatts each. As a result, they use 5 kilowatts per hour. At 7.34 cents per kilowatt, it would cost 36.7 cents per hour to operate each element.
Electric furnaces have a general service life of between 10 and 15 years. Separate air-conditioning systems are required to cool homes in summer.
Most Kentucky homeowners us air-source heat pump systems to warm and cool their homes.
Air-source heat pumps use electricity to draw heat from outdoor air to warm a home in the winter and extract warm indoor air to cool a home in the summer.
Air-source heat pump systems are about twice as efficient as electric furnace systems, and have a service life of between 10 and 15 years.
Go online to www.energystar.gov and click on “Heat and Cool Efficiently” for general information.
But before you install a new heating and cooling system, always do weatherization or seal your home as this will affect the heat loss/gain calculation, not only saving you money on the size of unit required but also on future energy bills. The higher the cost or outlay for an HVAC system, the more important it is for you to weatherize first to try and cut down on the size of unit required.
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HEAT PUMPS AND MAINTENANCE
In order to get peak performance and optimum service life from heat pumps, regular maintenance is key. Here’s what to do:
Change filters monthly during peak heating and cooling seasons, and at least every three months in off-peak seasons to prevent clogged filters from slowing airflow and forcing the system to work harder to provide necessary heating and cooling.
Clean and re-adjust the equipment at least once a year or hire a professional heating and cooling contractor do it for you.
Go online to www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=heat_cool.pr_maintenance for a heating and cooling maintenance checklist.
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SNOW MELT, ICICLES, AND ENERGY LOSS
A housetop may be a fine place for shouting good news, but it’s an even better place to identify energy loss in winter. That’s because heat escaping from non- or underinsulated attics or other spaces is most likely to become apparent on the roof just after a frost or snowfall.
Here’s why: bare spots on roofs indicate that warm air is leaking from the home’s interior—most likely from non- or underinsulated attic spaces or severe air leaks. Conversely, completely snow-covered roofs indicate minimal heat loss through attics or joint spaces between roof rafters and walls.
Icicles that form near a roof’s edge may indicate that heat escaping from noninsulated areas is causing snow on the roof to melt. Water produced when the snow melts creates the icicles that sometimes form all around a house’s roof. However, icicles can also form simply from solar heat or rising temperatures melting the snow.
Snow melt and icicle formation will also point out exactly where a home is leaking energy. Generally non- or underinsulated areas in kitchens and bathrooms are culprits.
To get a jump on buttoning up before the snow falls, step outside the morning after the season’s first frost. Bare spots could point to energy loss areas.
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All replacement windows contain at least two panes of glass. Panes are separated by spaces that create an insulating air pocket between the panes. The pocket acts much like the space between a thermos bottle’s core and its outer shell.
Low-E—or low-emissive—windows feature an invisible metallic coating. The coating allows visual light in, but keeps heat from light from escaping in the winter and in the summer prevents heat from penetrating the indoors. They also make the indoors more comfortable in the winter by reflecting heat back in.
In gas-filled windows, argon, krypton, or another colorless, odorless inert gas placed between the window’s panes prevents chemical interaction from breaking down the sealing gasket between panes, making these energy-efficient windows last longer.
Costs of replacement windows vary according to size, model, and the number of panes the window contains.
The amount of energy savings can vary depending upon the number and size of windows, and how many windows are situated in areas of the home receiving west or southwest sun exposures.
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Asphalt shingles are probably the most common of roofing materials because of their reasonable cost and ease of installation. Most are made of fiberglass embedded with ceramic granules that protect the shingles from sun deterioration and add the “sparkle” to the material’s appearance. The fiberglass shingles are then coated with asphalt to make them waterproof.
Asphalt shingle materials are available in an array of colors. Black shingles have long been popular with homeowners because its neutrality matches any home siding color scheme.
Don’t buy shingles by color, but look at the package and the rating for your material shingles based on the rating first if you would like to save energy. Solar reflectance is the fraction of solar energy that is reflected by the roof. All shingles are rated by their solar reflectivity, i.e., .25 means they will reflect 25% of the energy, or .5 means they will reflect 50% of the energy.
Generally, asphalt shingle roofs can have an up to 20-year service life, depending on the home’s location.
To learn how shingle roofing material and alternatives can affect home energy use, go online to www.roofcalc.com or to www.energystar.gov and type in “Cool Roofs and Emissivity” in the search box.
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DISCOVER NEW PRODUCTS
Consumer interest in energy savings is on the rise. Manufacturers are responding by offering new products designed to help consumers use less energy and hopefully save on their energy bills, too. Here are some of those new products.
Waste Management Inc.’s Compact Fluorescent (CFL) Recycling Kit
Each kit consists of a box designed to hold up to 13 13-watt CFLs, a prepaid return shipping label, and a sealable VaporLok bag for safely collecting and containing spent CFLs.
All you have to do is place spent CFLs in the resealable, bag then place in the box. When the box is full, affix the prepaid return label, and ship spent bulbs from your mailbox to Waste Management for recycling.
Consumers who sign up for the company’s “My Green Activity” program automatically receive a replacement box for spent CFLs when they return one, a certificate confirming that their CFLs have been responsibly recycled, and other benefits. Cost is $16.95 per kit. Go online to www.thinkgreenfromhome.com or call (866) 699-6466 for details.
GE’s GeoSpring Hybrid Electric Heat Pump Water Heater
This electric water heater combines heat pump technology with traditional electric elements. A compressor and evaporator are integrated into the electric water heater unit. The evaporator draws in ambient heat from surrounding air using two variable speed fans. Condenser coils wrap the tank all the way to the bottom to transfer this heat into the tank and heat the water.
GeoSpring Hybrid Electric Heat Pump water heaters are currently made in China, but plans are in the works to begin manufacturing them at GE’s Louisville manufacturing facility by the end of 2011. GeoSpring Hybrid Electric Heat Pumps are available online and at home improvement retailers for around $1,600. Go online to www.geappliances.com or call (800) 626-2005.
Insulating paint additives
Designed to be mixed with ordinary paint, these additives use ceramic microspheres to increase paint reflectivity to reduce heat loss. They may be mixed into paint applied indoors to walls and ceilings, and outdoors to decks, siding, and other outdoor surfaces.
Go online to www.hytechsales.com or call (321) 984-9777 to learn more.
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DISPEL ENERGY MYTHS
Now that people are more conscious of their energy costs, there are plenty of theories about how to reduce them. Unfortunately, some popular “facts” about energy use and savings are not facts at all.
Here are some common energy use myths and the truths to replace them.
Myth—The higher I set my heater's thermostat, the faster my home will warm up.
TRUTH—It will take the same amount of time for the temperature to reach 70 degrees whether the thermostat is set at 70 or 90 degrees. Setting the thermostat all the way up only wastes energy and increases heating costs.
Myth—Setting my air-conditioner thermostat to its lowest setting when I start it will cool my home faster.
TRUTH—This practice will not cool your home any faster, it just uses more energy.
Myth—It is more energy efficient to leave a computer running when it is not in use.
TRUTH—Turning off your computer any time can save energy. But turning a computer off and on several times a day may cause excessive wear and shorten its life. It’s better to use the “sleep” feature when the computer will not be in use for a few hours or so.
Myth—Closing off registers in unused rooms will save energy.
TRUTH—According to a study conducted by scientists at the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, turning off the hissing heat radiator in an unused room might have made sense in older, noninsulated homes, but it doesn’t save energy with more modern forced-air heating and cooling systems. Setting that room’s thermostat a degree or two higher in the summer or lower in the winter makes more energy saving sense.
Myth— Leaving a ceiling fan on will help cool a room.
TRUTH—Operating a ceiling fan will only make a room’s occupants feel cooler. That’s because fans circulate air within the room’s space. The air movement makes people inside the room feel cooler, but the air temperature remains the same. To save energy, turn the fan off when the room is unoccupied.
Myth—An appliance uses no electricity when it is turned off.
TRUTH—Some appliances such as VCRs, TV sets, phone chargers, window air conditioners, and even your trusty toaster continue to consume electricity—or so-called standby power—even when they are turned off. Unplugging unused electronic devices when they are not in use is a better energy-saving bet.
Myth—Insulating my attic or ceiling will only force more heat to leak out of the windows.
TRUTH—Adding insulation to one part of your home will not increase heat losses elsewhere. In fact, inadequately insulated areas are sources of major heat loss. To save energy, it’s best to apply insulation to uninsulated or underinsulated areas and seal ductwork. Replacing inefficient windows with new energy-rated models will help save energy, too.
For more energy saving tips, visit www.energysavers.gov.
To calculate your home’s energy usage, go to http://hes.lbl.gov or locate the Residential Calculator or Home Energy Calculator on your local electric co-op’s Web site.
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KENTUCKY LIVING 2009 ENERGY GUIDE
Download our 17-page 2009 Energy Guide for many more energy-savings tips. Go to Kentucky Living 2009 Energy Guide.
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To read the November 2010 feature that goes with this supplement, go to Kentucky Living 2010 Energy Guide.