DOE funds development of energy-saving building technologies

As part of its efforts to help homeowners and businesses save money by saving energy, the Energy Department (DOE) is investing $9 million in leading-edge building envelope technologies, including high-efficiency, high-performance windows, roofs, and heating and cooling equipment.

In his announcement, Energy Secretary Steven Chu noted that a typical American family spends nearly $2,000 per year on their home energy bills, much of which is wasted on air leaks and drafts in houses’ roofs, attics and walls. “By bringing new, affordable energy-efficient products to the market, we can help families save money by saving energy, while strengthening U.S. manufacturing leadership in technologies that are increasingly in demand worldwide,” said Chu.

This new investment focuses on improving whole-home energy performance through six advanced manufacturing projects in California, Connecticut, Idaho, Maryland, Missouri and Tennessee. Funding includes:

  • About $6.5 million in four projects to develop highly efficient, cost-effective heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems
  • About $3 million to two projects targeting building envelope materials.

In Western’s territory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will develop and test highly insulated, easy-to-install windows that use automated shading that can capture or repel heat depending on the season. Projects elsewhere include the St. Louis, Missouri-based Unico developing a cold climate heat pump with a variable speed compressor that will maintain capacity and efficiency even at very low temperatures. The University of Idaho will design and demonstrate a roof sandwich panel that uses foam material to increase building thermal efficiency and helps reduce construction costs by 25 percent.

From 1990 to 2007, U.S. energy use per capita remained fairly consistent. In the last five years, however, improvements in building efficiency for space heating and air conditioning have helped to reduce consumption. Nearly 60 percent of homes now feature energy-efficient, multi-pane windows—up from 36 percent in 1993. About 40 million households have sealed air leaks with caulking or weather-stripping, and 26 million have added insulation. The U.S. Energy Information Administration expects that energy use per capita will continue to fall by an additional 15 percent through 2040.

Greater savings can be achieved through more improvements. A typical residential or commercial building loses about 42 percent of energy through doors, roofs, attics, walls, floors and foundations—the building envelope. In the winter months, windows alone can account for 10 to 25 percent of a home’s utility bill through heat loss. The projects receiving funding will help bring new, affordable technologies to market and create opportunities for improved building performance and cost savings.

Learn more about these projects and find additional information on how the Energy Department is helping American homes and businesses save money by saving energy at and through the Buildings Technologies Program. Source: DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, 12/21/12