More than one way to improve window efficiency

Window replacement strictly for energy savings carries a big price tag that can be well out of range for many homeowners. Fortunately, there are several lower-cost options for reducing energy loss through windows that utility program managers might consider adding to their incentive offerings.

Window coverings can offer surprising energy benefits at a lower cost than window replacements, making them a good candidate for utility rebate programs.
Window coverings can offer surprising energy benefits at a lower cost than window replacements, making them a good candidate for utility rebate programs. (Photo by DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy)

Reflecting on film
Window films help block against solar heat gain and protect against glare and ultraviolet exposure. According to the International Window Film Association, You are leaving professionally installed window film can block 30-60 percent of all energy being lost through window glass throughout the heating and cooling seasons. IWFA also claims that window film in commercial buildings can deliver seven times the energy saving benefits per dollar spent compared with installing replacement windows.

DOE’s Energy Saver blog explains that reflective films work best in climates with long cooling seasons, because they also block the sun’s heat in the winter. Other factors that impact the effectiveness of window films include:

  • Size of window glazing area
  • Window orientation
  • Building orientation
  • Whether the window has interior insulation

Incentives for professional installation of window films could be a winner for utilities serving low-income areas in warmer climates. Homeowners and businesses in such regions might welcome an affordable alternative to window replacement. Check with your state energy office You are leaving to see if it offers any tax incentives you can piggy-back on your program.

Drawing on curtains, shades
Carefully chosen window attachments can also save homeowners energy for less than the cost of window replacements. The Attachments Energy Rating Council You are leaving is a good place to begin exploring options. The two-year-old organization is working with DOE to provide credible and accurate information about the energy performance of residential and commercial window attachment products.

For an overview of AERC’s work, download “Window Attachments: A Call to Action,” the Council’s updated brief. AERC is holding its annual meeting in Annapolis, Maryland, May 22 to 24.

Efficient Window Coverings, You are leaving a guide supported by DOE and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is another valuable resource for evaluating different window products for energy efficiency. Website visitors will find a calculator to help them choose the best covering for their circumstances and a comparison chart to see how coverings stack up against each other. These functions can help utilities identify a range of options to appeal to different customer segments.

Check out tools for resource planning, program development

Everyone loves to get a new tool that will make their job easier, whether it is a power sander for refinishing furniture or a calculator to help you choose the most cost-effective renewable resource or efficiency measure. Here are some “gadgets” that might be just what you need.

Choose your clean power
The Green Power Partnership, a program of the Environmental Protection Agency, has released a new Green Power Supply Options Screening Tool to help you sort through the different supply options. There are many ways to purchase green power—such as green tariffs, competitive green power products and off-site power purchase agreements—and determining which purchasing method works for you can be difficult.

Users answer a few simple questions about their organizations, including their locations and annual energy consumption. The Excel-based tool will describe which supply options might be most feasible, according to the relevant federal, state and utility policies. Background documents accompany the tool to explain how the results are defined and the logic used to produce the result for each supply option.

Calculate equipment efficiency
The DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) created the Better Buildings Residential Program Solution Center as a repository for the lessons learned from other EERE programs dedicated to improving building efficiency. Utility program administrators will find resources here that help them plan, operate and evaluate residential energy efficiency programs.

Artwork by DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Artwork by DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

The Solution Center has recently been branching out with more information about the technical aspects of home performance programs. A new section focused on technology solutions explores innovative technologies, offers installation guidance and estimates potential energy savings.

New pages highlight HVAC systems and heat pump water heaters, two applications that account for about 67 percent of home energy consumption. Use the reports, best practices and other resources to support program offerings and help you to reach your energy-efficiency program targets.

Identify energy savings potential
Researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have developed ResStock, a versatile tool that takes a new approach to large-scale residential energy analysis.

The ResStock software achieves unprecedented granularity and accuracy in modeling the diversity of the single-family housing stock by combining:

  • Large public and private data sources
  • Statistical sampling
  • Detailed sub-hourly building simulations
  • High-performance computing

The research team has run more than 20 million simulations using a statistical model of housing stock characteristics. The results uncovered $49 billion in potential annual utility bill savings through cost-effective energy efficiency improvements.

Using ResStock analysis, utilities can target energy-efficiency improvements to specific customer segments to improve cost-effectiveness. Resource planners can determine which measures and distributed energy resources are best for relieving grid congestion and what housing stock segments can provide the greatest load flexibility.

Utility program managers, municipalities and state energy agencies can use ResStock to identify the most cost-effective—and energy-saving—home improvements. The tool is also valuable for helping cities and states figure out how buildings contribute to energy or emissions targets. NREL is pursuing partnerships with industry to adapt ResStock for specific utility, manufacturer, state and local applications.

NREL will be offering the ResStock software at no cost, leveraging DOE’s open-source building energy modeling ecosystem of OpenStudio® and EnergyPlus. These cloud-based collections of software tools allow users to model energy use for heating, cooling, ventilation, lighting and plug-and- process loads without a supercomputer.

To learn how ResStock can help your utility contact Eric Wilson at NREL.

Source: US Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, 1/30/18

New resource added to Energy Services Water Conservation page

Coal, the most abundant fossil fuel, currently accounts for 52 percent of US electricity generation, and each kilowatt-hour generated from coal requires withdrawal of 25 gallons of water. That means US citizens may indirectly depend upon as much water turning on the lights and running appliances as they directly use taking showers and watering lawns.

Photo by Sandia National Laboratory
(Photo by Sandia National Laboratory)

Utilities can expect water conservation to play a growing role in their efforts to comply with the Clean Power Plan. In fact, Water/Energy Nexus: Claiming Energy Savings for Water Measures and the Associated Calculations was chosen by utilities as a topic for the pre-forum workshops You are leaving Western's site. at the Utility Energy Forum.

Working out these issues will take time, but you don’t have to wait to encourage your customers to save water. Summer is the season for gardening, swimming and—yes—extra showers, so take a moment now to explore Energy Services’ Water Conservation resources. This page is loaded with information about drought management, irrigation and water-saving tips for commercial and residential customers.

In that last category is a new resource from the Southwest Florida Water Management District You are leaving Western's site. that could help motivate your customers to get on board with a water conservation program. The Water Use Calculator is an easy-to-use tool that allows the user figure out how much water they consume at home, both individually and as a family.

Most people will be surprised—even a little alarmed—to discover how much water everyday activities use (the Energy Service staff was, and we think about these things a lot). Try placing the link on your website or running it in your online newsletter to get your customers’ attention. Then follow it up with customer communication on tips for cutting down water consumption, such as Water Use it Wisely You are leaving Western's site. for residential customers. You can find those resources on the Water Conservation page as well.

While you are there, check out the information on water efficiency for commercial and agricultural customers. This customer segment is already motivated to cut water use, so be ready to help them with Best Management Practices for Water Efficiency and Water Efficiency Case Studies.

For many utilities, water conservation is already an important part of their resource management activities. If you have a favorite tip sheet, calculator or strategy for determining savings, share it with Energy Services. Once an esoteric concept, the water-energy nexus is now everybody’s business.

Ask the Energy Experts: Measuring results for appliance rebate programs

Our utility is designing a rebate program for customers who purchase energy-efficient refrigerators. To help us estimate potential savings, we need information on the energy consumption of older refrigerators that may run longer (during each on/off cycle) or even continuously.

The average cycle times of a well-maintained refrigerator should not change as the appliance gets older, unless it is somehow damaged. If a refrigerator does run continuously, something is wrong. Possible reasons for older refrigerators running longer or continuously include:

  • Dust and debris buildup on the condenser coil
  • Blocked internal vents inside an overloaded refrigerator
  • Damaged door seals or door misalignment
  • Frost buildup on the inside of manual-defrost refrigerators, or a malfunctioning defrost mechanism on automatic-defrost refrigerators
  • Partial loss of the refrigerant charge due to slow leakage of refrigerant

Adding a repair component to your program may expand its reach to increase energy savings and build trust with your customers. Also, consider using bill stuffers and other outreach opportunities to educate customers on routine refrigerator upkeep. Find more tips for efficient refrigerator operation and Energy Saver, a website by the Department of Energy to help consumers reduce their carbon footprint.

ENERGY STAR-qualified refrigerators use 15 percent less energy than non-qualified models. Models with top-mounted freezers use 10 to 25 percent less energy than side-by-side or bottom-mount units.
ENERGY STAR-qualified refrigerators use 15 percent less energy than non-qualified models. Models with top-mounted freezers use 10 to 25 percent less energy than side-by-side or bottom-mount units. (Artwork by DOE Energy Saver)

Calculating savings
Once a refrigerator reaches the end of its useful life—which it may be if it is running continuously—it is going to be replaced anyway. Usually, the goal of an incentive program is to encourage customers to replace older, less-efficient, but still functioning, appliances with high-efficiency models. A properly functioning older refrigerator uses less energy than the continuously running one, so calculating your program’s energy savings based on the latter will give you an overly optimistic estimate.

Documentation of Calculation Methodology, Input Data, and Infrastructure, by Home Energy Saver and Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, is a useful publication for calculating the energy consumption of major appliances, including older refrigerators. Updated in 2008, this reference includes energy factors for several different refrigerator styles from 1972 to 2003. A table gives typical refrigerator sizes and there are equations for calculating adjusted volume and energy consumption.

Home Energy Saver also provides a chart that gives default energy consumption estimates for a variety of home appliances and systems.

Other resources you may find helpful include the Energy Star Refrigerator Retirement Savings Calculator. It allows visitors to estimate the energy savings for replacing refrigerators manufactured up to 2008 with an Energy Star-qualified model. Top Ten USA shows annual energy cost savings for the 10 most efficient refrigerators on the market. Knowing what refrigerator models are readily available in your area might be helpful as well in estimating program savings.

Estimating Appliance and Home Electronic Energy Use, an article on the Energy Saver blog, makes good reading for customers who are particularly engaged in managing their home energy use. Cultivating a relationship with your “true believers” is a good way to gain anecdotal data on the real-life performance of your programs. This information can be valuable in refining existing programs and developing new ones.

Be a hero to your C&I customers with Power Factor Correction Calculator

March 20, 2014   
1:00-2:00 p.m. (Mountain Time)

Learn how to use a new tool to help your commercial and industrial customers reduce their operating costs.  Western and the Energy ExpertsRedirecting to a non-government site at Washington State University are presenting a webinar March 20 to introduce the spreadsheet calculator.

Don’t make the mistake of dismissing power factor as a complicated concept that only electrical engineers need to understand.  Especially for customers who use large electric motors, power factor can have a huge impact on the bottom line. Find out what poor power factor is doing to your customers’ electric bills and how power factor correction can make a key account’s business stronger. This webinar will explain why power factor is important and how correcting poor power factor can reduce your demand charges.

Member services managers and key accounts representatives, and their commercial-industrial end-users will benefit from this webinar. Register todayRedirecting to a non-government site for this free event.   

Learn more
Feel free to download the spreadsheet before the webinar and familiarize yourself with its features. Your customers can use a sample utility bill to put the calculator through its paces. We encourage end-users to bring a utility bill to the webinar as well.

Here is some additional information about power factor you and your customers might find useful:

Western sponsored the development of this calculator by the Washington State University Energy Program. Western’s Energy Experts hotline has received and evaluated many questions regarding power factor, what it means and how to resolve this issue.

The webinar will be recorded and available on the power factor calculator page.

Around the web: LED streetlight retrofit calculator Redirecting to a non-government siteAroundTheWeb

In just a few short years, LEDs—light-emitting diodes—have jumped from being a specialty product to being the standard for new lighting. From small towns like Fountain, Colo., to megalopolises like Los Angeles Redirecting to a non-government site, municipalities are updating their public spaces with highly efficient, easy-to-maintain LED streetlights.

There are many reasons for cities to consider upgrading public lighting to LEDs. According to the Energy Department, the United States could avoid 1,800 million metric tons of carbon emissions by switching entirely to LED lights over the next two decades. Municipalities with Dark Sky ordinances Redirecting to a non-government site might choose LEDs that provide cutoff and semi-cutoff Redirecting to a non-government site for compliant solutions.

When it comes to capital projects, however, the bottom line often carries the day, and here, too, LEDs justify their installation. By reducing the cost of ownership, LED lighting quickly offsets the higher upfront costs of the technology. For example, Los Angeles estimates that the new streetlights will reduce its annual electric bill by at least $7 million, and save another $2.5 million through reduced maintenance needs.

Still, every case is different, so before presenting a proposal to your city council, get the hard numbers from the LED Universal ROI [return on investment] Calculator. Developed by Street Lighting Equipment Corp., this calculator gives payback time, both the annual and lifetime savings for energy, maintenance and carbon dioxide production. You can also use it to calculate return on investment for other types of lighting technology. 

The cost of LED fixtures continues to drop as the technology improves, so high-efficiency streetlights are increasingly within the reach of many municipal budgets. Visit the ROI calculator today to find out what LEDs could do for your city’s operating costs. If the results look good (or great), you may not want to wait for the next round of capital replacements. Funding for retrofit projects may be available through your state energy office Redirecting to a non-government site or the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Program. You can also search for federal grant opportunities.