Tag Archives: Emerging Technologies

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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NEEP’s Market Strategies team develops regional strategies to accelerate energy efficiency

Appliance Standards Project Manager

Market transformation, with respect to energy efficiency in products or buildings, involves continually advancing product baselines as new, more efficient products and technologies become available. The quicker we can advance this cycle, the better.

How do we, as a community of efficiency stakeholders, most effectively influence the shape and pace of this evolution?  Is “market push” — such as regulation with mandatory minimum appliance standards — the best path to accelerated market transformation? Or is “market pull” — meaning more voluntary mechanisms such as efficiency program incentives — more appropriate?  At NEEP, we believe the answer is usually a mixture of several strategies. Transforming markets involves utilizing several of the tools in the toolbox, and each specific technology may call on a different combination of tools.









NEEP’s Market Strategies team has been working to identify technology areas with significant amounts of potential energy savings through efficiency. Together with our partners in government, efficiency program administrators, peer organizations and other stakeholders, the team is currently working on:

  • Residential Lighting
  • Business and Consumer Electronics (BCE)
  • Emerging Technologies — currently heat pump water heaters (HPWH) and ductless heating and cooling products

For each of these areas, the team is at varying stages of development of Regional Strategy Reports. These reports will ultimately lay out a series of recommended activities that, with coordinated execution, will foster accelerated market transformations. Reports have already been completed for Residential Lighting and Heat Pump Water Heaters, and we have begun work on reports for Business and Consumer Electronics and ductless heating and cooling.

Because the Strategy Reports involve a range of policy and programmatic approaches, a broad group of stakeholders must be involved and engaged. We believe policymakers can and should play an active role in moving products and buildings towards increasingly levels of efficiency. As such, NEEP will place an increased emphasis on engaging state policymakers as we develop and implement regional strategies across the technology areas.  As a community of efficiency stakeholders, we all have a role to play in making that evolution happen as quickly as possible.

In order to keep the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic region a leader of energy efficiency, we must work together to effectively influence markets. The Market Strategies team will be, among other outreach activities, delivering a series of webinars this year to communicate the recommended strategy activities to the various efficiency stakeholders including policy makers.

In the following weeks, webinars will be held on Residential Lighting and HPWHs.  Click on the dates to register for these upcoming opportunities to learn more about your potential role.

May 17 - Residential Lighting Strategy Webinar

May 23 – Heat Pump Water Heater Strategy Webinar

June 18 – Business and Consumer Electronics Workshop (in conjunction with NEEP’s Annual Summit)

Please contact Claire Miziolek with questions regarding Lighting or BCE andDave Lis regarding HPWH efforts.

Appliance Standards Project Manager


Time is Savings-Connecticut’s Building Code Conundrum

Last week, a damaging bill (HB 5749) for building energy efficiency was heard in Connecticut. The bill describes itself as attempting to “save resources” for the Nutmeg State and creates a “more consistent State Building Code,” when in fact it would accomplish neither! Here is NEEP’s written testimony against the bill.

HB 5749, if passed, would have Connecticut revise the State Building Code only every six years! NEEP strongly recommends that all states update their state building and energy codes at least every three years, corresponding with the International Code Council’s (ICC) update cycle. It’s the surest way to align a state building code with the latest developments in building technologies and practices, and achieve the energy and cost savings, not to mention life/safety requirements, the codes are designed for.

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Question: How many heating systems does one house need? Answer: 6

At least this is how many heating systems my parents’ house has.  From electric baseboard heat to ductless mini-splits, the house is like a museum to the history of home heating systems.

Before you go thinking my parents are some kind of crazy heating system hoarders, it helps to understand that their house has gone through several remodels and additions since it was built 40 years ago. Continue reading

ENERGY STAR Set to Tackle the Future of Energy Efficient Products

A pat on the back for the ENERGY STAR brand was well deserved at this year’s Partners Meeting where attendees celebrated 20 years of the brand’s achievements in the market adoption of high efficiency products and billions of dollars and millions of metric tons of GHG emissions saved each year from ENERGY STAR products ($20 billion on utility bills and 195 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions in 2010 alone!).  Whether it was looking back at ENERGY STAR’s humble beginnings in 1992, or looking forward to the opportunities and challenges in deeper energy savings, the important role of energy efficiency for the environment and the economy was a key message. Continue reading

Vampires and Phantoms, oh my!

Yes Halloween is just around the corner, but we’re not talking about those types of vampires or phantoms. What we ARE talking about can be just as frightening — vampire or phantom loads refer to the appliances and electronics that draw electricity from your outlets even when they are turned off. The constant sucking of electricity these products produce not only are a drain on your electrical system but they are killer to your electric bill. So what can we  do to protect ourselves against these types of loads, become more energy efficient and save money on our electric bills? The answer is not garlic, a wooden stake, or even going around and unplugging every device. So what IS the solution? Continue reading

Heat Pump Water Heaters Offer Northeast Exciting Energy Saving Opportunities!

To the surprise of many, water heating is the third largest energy expense in the home behind space heating and cooling. On average, water heating represents 17% of energy use in the home.  Water heating in the Northeast is dominated by three main fuels; natural gas, electricity and oil.  While exciting efficiency opportunities exist in products fueled by gas and oil, game changing technology is re-emerging in the electric water heating market – heat pump water heaters (HPWH).  Newly designed HPWH that meet the ENERGY STAR® criteria boast efficiencies achieving 50% savings over the incumbent electric resistance water heating technology.  With 5.1 million homes or a quarter of all homes in the Northeast heating their water with electricity, there is reason to be excited about the potential energy savings if new and replacement electric water heaters can migrate to heat pump technology.

With such clear advantages in efficiency you may be wondering, “Why don’t all new electric water heaters in the region have heat pump technology?”  The answer to this question has some complexity.  The technology itself actually has a long market history of over 30 years, marred by unsuccessful starts and stops involving poor product offerings from small niche manufacturers.  Fortunately, the entrance of the major water heater manufacturers into this market a few years ago breathed new life into the technology.  Higher quality products are now available, but challenges remain.

Operating HPWH in the colder climates of the Northeast present a number of additional challenges for both the performance of the technology (i.e. meeting hot water demand) as well as to consumer comfort and satisfaction (i.e. cold exhaust, noise).  HPWH also carry a higher upfront cost compared to the traditional electric water heater.  In order to achieve the exciting savings potential that exists through the use of these products, we must find solutions to the barriers.  One of the key challenges is being able to differentiate between the “good” and the “bad.”  The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) has begun to address this issue through the developments of a special cold climate specification that adequately identifies the products that can perform well in a northern climate application – the  specification offers the Northeast a strong model to consider.

In order to address these and other challenges, NEEP believes regional approaches and solutions offer the Northeast the strongest likelihood of long term product uptake.  To this end, NEEP has begun a project to develop a regional strategy for heat pump water heaters to ensure a successful introduction of this water heating technology.  The strategy will provide guidance to important stakeholders who are crucial to making this effort work. NEEP is determined to help accelerate the market uptake of this product by identifying the key barriers and developing strategies to overcome them.   The efficiency community should not let this opportunity slip by.  Dissemination of poor product in the wrong applications could turn off consumers from this technology for many years and sacrifice significant amounts of energy savings in the process.

Contact Dave Lis (djlis at neep.org) for more information about the development of a Regional Strategy for Heat Pump Water Heaters.