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Energy Newsbriefs Blog

This current awareness service is prepared by the WSU Energy Program Library with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy State Energy Program. This information is provided for energy professionals and interested members of the public to highlight recent energy-related news, articles, and reports that discuss energy efficiency, energy conservation, and renewable sources of energy in engineering and policy circles.


Category: Residential


Energy Star Honors 2015’s Most Efficient Geothermal Units

Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration News, Sep. 28, 2015, by Herb Woerpel.

"Every year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Energy Star program acknowledges products it deems “Most Efficient” in the marketplace. This effort identifies leading products among those that qualify for Energy Star designation in numerous product categories. Here is a snapshot of Energy Star’s Most Efficient Geothermal Heat Pumps of 2015."

Smart Thermostat Initiatives Reveal Exciting New Horizons for Energy Efficiency Programs

American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, Oct. 6, 2015, by Steven Nadel.

"Today, Commonwealth Edison, several smart thermostat manufacturers, and the Environmental Law and Policy Center announced a major new initiative with a target to install one million smart thermostats in the homes of Commonwealth Edison customers over five years. Commonwealth Edison (commonly called ComEd) serves northern Illinois, including the Chicago metropolitan area. To start, the new smart thermostats will include the Nest and ecobee3, but over time additional manufacturers will be added."

How Solar-plus-Battery Systems Insulate Customers from Rising Retail Electricity Prices

Rocky Mountain Institute, Oct. 5, 2015, by David Labrador.

"In the face of rising retail prices for grid electricity, investing in solar-plus-battery systems can insulate grid-connected customers from those increasing prices and effectively lock in a peak price that won't continue to climb, according to a recent analysis by RMI. The result for customers across diverse geographies will be substantial savings relative to what they would have paid for a full-fare utility bill. For utilities and regulators this will be challenging—and present an opportunity."

Northwest Power and Conservation Council and Other Planners Systematically Underestimate Efficiency Savings From New Products

NW Energy Coalition, Sep. 30, 2015.

"The region’s soaring energy efficiency gains over the past several years have exceeded expectations. Northwest power planners continue to underestimate both the speed at which new energy efficiency products take over the marketplace and the total amount of achievable energy savings. That can lead to false conclusions about the need for new power plants, resulting in unnecessary expenses that raise consumers’ bills."

PV Modules Update & Trends

Home Power, Sep./Oct. 2015, by Justine Sanchez.

"Now that solar technology is cropping up on rooftops across the country, you might be finding your friends and neighbors looking for more information about this “new” industry. Here are some current solar industry statistics and PV module trends for those increasingly common over-the-fence conversations."

New Horizons for Energy Efficiency: Major Opportunities to Reach Higher Electricity Savings by 2030

American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), Sep. 2015, by Dan York, and others.

"Higher equipment standards and more stringent building codes are squeezing the amount of savings that energy efficiency programs can harvest. No single measure will yield a dominant share of energy savings for utility program portfolios, as have lighting programs in the past. This report examines the next large opportunities for energy efficiency savings. It analyzes 18 measures—including reduction of plug loads, conservation voltage reduction, and smart manufacturing—that could collectively save 22% of total projected electricity use in the year 2030."

Sizing Up Tesla Energy's Powerwall

Rural Electric Magazine, Sep. 2015, by Reed Karaim.

"Tesla Energy’s Powerwall, a home and commercial battery system expected to be available late this year, could be an important step forward in home energy storage, according to an assessment by NRECA’s Business and Technology Strategies (BTS) department."

Inverter Benchmarking Results in Smarter Residential Inverter Solutions

Solar Industry Magazine, Aug. 2015, by Michael Mills-Price.

"Today’s residential and small commercial solar photovoltaic inverter marketplace includes a myriad of solutions and choices... These products are expected to operate in electrically and environmentally harsh environments, with service lifetimes that can approach and exceed 20 years. The PV inverter landscape is also marked by many new entrants and products from established industry players. These dynamic market characteristics increase the importance of thorough due diligence in the inverter selection process. Independent third-party data can be very beneficial in choosing the optimal inverter solution. "

Pacific Northwest Residential Ventilation Effectiveness Study

Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, Sept. 14, 2015, by Ken Eklund and others.

"This report presents the findings and conclusions of the Pacific Northwest Residential Ventilation Effectiveness study in houses with low air leakage. The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) commissioned the Washington State University (WSU) Energy Program to conduct the study, which included a total of twenty-nine houses in Washington State with five different types of ventilation systems. Exhaust ventilation (Exhaust Only (EO) and Exhaust with Inlet Vents (EI)) and heat recovery ventilation (HRV)/energy recovery ventilation (ERV) systems made up the largest share of the ventilation systems studied."

It's All About the Data: How the Building Performance Database is Informing Decisions on Energy Efficiency

U.S. Department of Energy, Aug. 25, 2015.

"Filling a gap in the market, the BPD provides public access to anonymized data on hundreds and thousands of buildings and homes.  Increased access to energy-related information in buildings allows end-users to make key decisions on energy efficiency projects, policies and programs. For the first time, users can compare variables across regional markets, uncover data trends, and draw conclusions that would otherwise be impossible or costly to identify."
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