Author Archives: Samantha Bresler

Getting into “Hot Water” is Exhilarating

The products that we use every day (Appliances, Electronics, Lighting, etc.) may sound mundane and not at all dangerous, but when accumulated, their electrical consumption contributes to climatic and environmental damage. One of those products that continues to draw large quantities of power is the home’s hot water heater. Up until recently we had no alternative – no opportunity to realize energy, financial, and environmental benefits. Now we have an opportunity to rebel against the status quo electric resistance water heater with an efficient Heat Pump Water Heater (HPWH). So go on. Be a rebel.

HPWH rebel

In past blogs we’ve suggested not to wait till the old water heater breaks down and to replace it with an efficient option.  We can assure you that taking cold showers aren’t very appealing in the interim. Purchasing a business-as-usual water heater could make the heating bills unnecessarily high. If you live in the Northeast or Mid-Atlantic, odds are your region or state offers rebates on Heat Pump Water Heaters.  HPWH, unlike standard electric resistance water heaters, function much like a refrigerator in reverse.  HPWHs pull heat from the surrounding air and force it, at a higher temperature, into a tank to hot water. So rather than generating heat, HPWHs extract heat from the ambient air and use it to heat water. This method requires less energy, which takes less money from you and is more environmentally-friendly.

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Sustained Excellence for Sustained Savings

POY_SustainedExcellence_2014April 29, 2014 was our night. This was the Oscars, the Grammys, and the Super Bowl for the Energy Efficiency industry. The ENERGY STAR Awards Ceremony was a tour-de-force event and it seemed like everyone was there.  The cheerful mingling, clinking china, and upbeat presentations made one wonder if the animated scenes from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby were inspiration for the event.

NEEP, and our Sponsors from New England and the Mid-Atlantic, were recognized for our collective outstanding contributions to protecting the environment through energy efficiency. In fact, the Northeast Retail Products Initiative, facilitated by NEEP, in conjunction with its sponsoring utility and energy efficiency program administrators, was awarded the coveted 2014 ENERGY STAR Award for Sustained Excellence –ENERGY STAR’s highest honor. When NEEP’s very own Executive Director, Susan Coakley, was called up to the stage to accept the ENERGY STAR Award, the room erupted into applause.

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Efficiency’s Climate Manifesto

Energy Efficiency has an impediment when it comes to being recognized as a climate solution – it lacks oomph appeal. It doesn’t have Solar energy’s dazzling solar arrays glinting in the brilliant radiance of the sun. Nor does it have Wind energy’s elegantly arching wind mills, so sophisticated and alluring so as to capture the mind of Don Quixote. It doesn’t even have Hydropower’s ferocious tumble and roar of water. Nope, it has none of that. What does it have? It has regulations, excel spreadsheets and technological advances. Energy efficiency is full of abstraction – at best it has cold data.

Climate change

“Energy efficiency needs to go from a ‘hidden fuel’ to a ‘first fuel’ as it exceeds the output from ANY OTHER fuel source.”

But guess what? Climate change is knocking at our door. Deniers troll the internet, Congress has been reduced to a sideshow of an all-nighter, and the international treaties are a stalled frustration.  Meanwhile, in the face of all that nonsense, energy efficiency is getting the job done. The United Nation’s Environmental Program launched a new initiative, ‘Sustainable Energy for All’ (SE4ALL), and will be relying heavily on Energy Efficiency as one of their main pillars for success. Voluntary efficiency programs, such as ENERGY STAR under the Environmental Protection Agency, have saved 1.9 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas over the past two decades. So, those excel spreadsheets end up looking pretty impressive.

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They use Incandescent bulbs? That was so 1879

As NEEP bids farewell to the incandescent light bulb, and congratulates ten cities in the United States for their embrace of efficient lighting, Congress has, unfortunately, yielded to obstinate consumers. Congress’ recent budget deal denies the U.S. Department of Energy funding to enforce new efficient lighting standards for lamps, which have disqualified the traditional incandescent light bulb. Thankfully, the new efficiency standard for light bulbs established by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) will go into effect, even though DOE is restricted in its enforcement of that standard. This is disappointing given that energy and cost savings are lost due to stubborn consumers and their outdated preferences for incandescent bulbs.

incandescent-stockpile-lady

I share my colleague’s belief in the winning recipe of ‘Innovation and Regulation’ to reduce energy consumption, fuel cost, and environmental degradation.  By ignoring the advances made nationally and regionally, this attempted halt of EISA would only harm the United States economy. American manufacturers have moved on, and have already innovated and adapted to the new standards. However, with DOE unable to enforce this standard, Congress’ actions would leave less-stringent foreign manufacturers to flaunt the law. In fact, since California adopted EISA’s standards a year before it went into effect nationally, manufacturers have been prepared ever since. In a recent study by ASAP, efficiency standards are found to have no drawback on performance, features, or price (including electricity bill savings). Congress’ misguided efforts can only hinder that innovation and development, especially when the Northeast is a leader in energy efficiency.

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A Breeze of Innovation, Air Source Heat Pumps Hold Potential

We all know what the outdoors can do to revitalize our health.  We feel more connected, nourished, and energized after we venture out of our homes and take a deep, endless breath of fresh air, soak up vitamins from sunlight, or drop in on the crest of an interminable wave. What if I told you that the same raw nourishment from the outdoors can reduce your heating and cooling bill?

Energy efficient technology helps lay the groundwork for a more symbiotic relationship between the natural world and us.

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Hanging Underwear Out to Dry?

I get it.  No really, I do.  You’re an environmentalist – well, so am I. You wanted to lessen your carbon footprint just like the rest of us – and I applaud that. So in a desperate attempt to decrease the environmental burden of doing laundry, you decided to hang your clothes out to dry. But this isn’t Little House on the Prairie! This is an urban area and countless people just got a free look at your unmentionables. That guy down the street? Yeah, he saw them.  The old lady on your block almost tumbled over when she saw those, “new-fangled undergarments” of yours. Even now, small children are buckling over in peals of laughter at your expense.

urban-clothes-line-13559050

There is no need to continue this public shaming.  You can keep your laundry and privacy clean without damage to the environment.  Let me show you how NEEP and our partners can help. This year, NEEP joined forces with the Super Efficient Dryers Initiative (SEDI), who plans to introduce advanced clothes dryers into the North American market. NEEP and SEDI are especially interested in the prospect of heat pump clothes dryers, which are currently picking up speed in European markets.

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Ode to the Air-Source Heat Pump

In the distance, there is a soft humming of a compressor, the ticking of its meter, and the whirring of the fan.  The warm blanket of air envelopes the room.  The small metallic grating in the wall glints with polished cleanliness.  The faint scent, the very aroma, of money saved in your wallet perfumes the room.

 DRAMATICA bit melodramatic?

 Yes, well it can’t be helped. When one begins to imagine heating a home efficiently with an Air-Source Heat Pump, the senses simply ignite with excitement.

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Not your Grandma’s Electronics Workshop

This is your last chance to register for NEEP's BCE workshop at the 2013 Energy Efficiency Summit!

This is your last chance to register for NEEP’s BCE workshop at the 2013 Energy Efficiency Summit!

Business and Consumer Electronics (BCEs) programs have long been the cause of frustration for efficiency programs.  As described in a recent NEEP blog post, energy consumption per device is low, but the aggregated energy use of electronics is a staggering 15% of the household.  This sizeable potential for energy savings is like an object that is just out of reach.  The very innovation and diversity that makes electronics appealing to consumers creates enormous design challenges for efficiency programs.   How can you earn savings when each product uses a small amount of energy, but added together have a large effect?  Continue reading

The Cold Shower: Plan Ahead and You’ll Avoid It

Heat Pump Water Heaters (HPWH) pay back big in the long run.

Heat Pump Water Heaters (HPWH) pay back big in the long run.

Your water heater lives an inconspicuous life.  It is often over looked, hidden away in some far recess of your basement, collecting a thin film of dust.  If you’re like most folks, only when it ceases to function properly (or at all) do you become aware of it.  When it needs to be replaced you don’t know what’s worse, the cost of new equipment or another arctic rinse.  But let’s face it; your tolerance of cold showers quickly erodes after the first plunge.

After your core body temperature returns to normal you have to call a plumber. Unless your house is in constant disarray, your plumber isn’t on speed dial. While online to find a decent plumber in your area, do some background research to get a sense of what you need and how much it will cost.  You quickly conclude that the average installed cost for a standard electric resistance water heater is roughly $600.  Unfortunately, despite your internet prowess and proficiency in cyberspace you may have over-looked the sparse information about heat pump water heaters (HPWH).  Rather than an electric resistance water heater, HPWHs function much like a refrigerator in reverse.  HPWHs pull heat from the surrounding air and force it, at a higher temperature, into a tank to heat water. Continue reading

NEEP’s Retail Products Initiative receives ENERGY STAR’s Partner of the Year Award

  The Northeast Retail Products Initiative, facilitated by NEEP, in conjunction with its sponsoring utility and energy efficiency program administrators, has been awarded the coveted 2013 ENERGY STAR Award for Sustained Excellence –ENERGY STAR’s highest honor.

Sustained Excellence

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