Alliance Board Funds Effort to Promote
by Stacey Hobart
The Board of Directors for the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance has approved $4.5 million through 2005 for a project to promote ENERGY STAR homes in the region. The new project is scheduled to begin in January 2004, and will work to make the construction of new homes built to a Northwest ENERGY STAR specification common practice in the states of Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.
The project will work with the region’s home builders to offer training and certification services and promote ENERGY STAR homes. To qualify as a Northwest ENERGY STAR home, builders will construct new homes with windows, lights, appliances, water heaters, insulation and heating and cooling equipment to specific energy efficiency standards. The standard includes a set of measures that are unique to the Northwest for ENERGY STAR certification of new homes.
The combination of measures will result in a new home that is at least 15% more energy-efficient than current residential energy codes. An objective of the project is to gain a 20% market share for ENERGY STAR new homes certified to the Northwest standards within five years of project start-up. The initiative is expected to save a total of 13 average megawatts (aMW) by 2010 and 210 aMW by 2025. One average megawatt is enough to power about 700 homes for one year.
In addition, the new Alliance project will work with manufacturers and suppliers of energy-efficient appliances and other products to encourage installation of qualified products in ENERGY STAR homes. The Alliance has been working with appliance and lighting manufacturers since the organization was established in 1996. These relationships have been developed under the Alliance’s current ENERGY STAR Residential Lighting and Home Products projects, which have saved the region nearly 73 aMW as of the end of 2002.
“The ENERGY STAR Homes Northwest project is a great opportunity for the Alliance to move forward with a comprehensive approach to improving the efficiency of new homes in the region,” said Margaret Gardner, executive director of the Alliance. “The potential for energy savings is great, which means consumers spend less money on monthly electric bills and environmental impacts from power production are reduced.” Energy savings from the initiative is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 850,000 tons by 2025.
The amount of energy that individual homeowners will save varies depending on how the home is heated. ENERGY STAR homes that are heated with gas can expect electricity savings of approximately 1,000 to 1,500 kWh per year compared to a code-built home. Electrically heated homes would save over 3,700 kWh a year. The average savings would pay for the added cost of the measures in just over four years. “Over the 70-year life of a home, that’s a pretty good proposition,” explains Jeff Harris, manager of development at the Alliance. “Money saved after those four years, goes directly to the homeowner.”
In addition to the energy savings, ENERGY STAR homeowners should enjoy other benefits such as increased comfort due to higher performance heating and cooling systems and water and gas savings from higher efficiency appliances, Harris said.
ENERGY STAR is a voluntary program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy and is the national symbol for energy efficiency. Consumers should look for the label to choose products that use less energy.
The Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance www.nwalliance.org
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