Net Zero Energy Homes by 2015?

GE announced that by 2015 it hopes to make available a turnkey product portfolio that will allow consumers — both new home builders and existing homeowners — to efficiently consume, manage and generate electricity to achieve an overall net zero annual energy. In addition, GE plans to develop residential power generation products like solar PV and residential wind products.

The GE net zero energy home offerings will be comprised of three major groups within the product portfolio: energy-efficient products, energy management products and energy generation/storage products.

GE’s portfolio of energy-efficient appliance and lighting products will help enable the net zero energy home by reducing energy consumption in the home, the company says.

Demand response products will enable consumers to manage their costs and energy consumption while helping reduce utility demand peaks, thereby reducing the need for more power generation — depending on utility participation.

GE plans to offer a full suite of demand response appliances that will work with utility smart meters to help shed load from the grid, while helping consumers save money during peak demand usage and pricing times. GE appliances and products will work with smart meters to delay or reduce energy use, according to the company.

As the second single largest energy users in the home, incorporating highly efficient water heaters into the net zero energy homes is critical. GE will offer its GE Hybrid Electric Heat Pump Water Heater with demand response technology in late 2009. The water heater is designed to use about 2,300 kWh per year, which is less than half of the energy of a 50-gal. tank water heater that uses approximately 4,800 kWh per year.

In 2010 GE plans to introduce a home energy manager — the central nervous system for the net zero energy home that will work in conjunction with all the other enabling technologies in the home to help homeowners to optimize how they consume energy.

Products like solar PV, advanced energy storage, next generation thin-film solar and small wind are other products being developed and are expected to play a part in the net zero energy home.

Lighting

New Standards Announced

New national minimum energy efficiency requirements for light bulbs will save more energy than any other standard ever issued by any administration, according to a coalition representing environmental and consumer organizations, state government, and utilities.

The new standards, announced by President Obama, are expected to make the hundreds of millions of fluorescent tube lamps that light offices, stores and factories more efficient. They also will phase out conventional incandescent reflector lamps, effectively extending the phase-out of inefficient incandescent products initiated by Congress in 2007 to the common cone-shaped bulbs used in recessed light fixtures and track lighting.

The new lamp standards, which will take effect in 2012, will have little effect on the outward appearance or lighting performance of the affected light bulbs. For fluorescent lamps, highly efficient T8 lamps (lamps with a 1-in. diameter) will replace T12 lamps (which have a 1.5-in. diameter). For reflector lamps, standard incandescent and halogen technology will be replaced with highly efficient halogen infrared reflector technology, a change that will save consumers energy, but not result in any outward change to reflector lamp appearance.

Solar

Window Seller Adds Solar Division

American Vision, a large California seller and installer of replacement windows, is launching a new division, American Vision Solar, that will provide sales and installation of photovoltaic solar panels.

American Vision Home Solutions will be offering this alternative energy solution throughout California, but intends to focus its initial efforts in the areas where Southern California Edison is the primary utility provider. Mike Smith, American Vision Solar CEO, says that each of the three main utility providers in California has a credit allowance from the state which they pass on to customers who invest in solar power. “And SCE,” says Smith, “has a lot to give.”

Market Outlook

Conference to Address Recession

The long- and short-term impacts of the recession on the home improvement industry will be addressed at the 28th annual fall conference of the Home Improvement Research Institute (HIRI) to be held October 14 at the Holiday Inn Mart Plaza in Chicago.

Among topics to be covered during the conference:

  • A Wall Street view: What today’s financial markets and economic conditions mean for home improvement
  • What’s happening to remodeling contractors in this down market
  • Younger consumers’ attitudes and behaviors related to the home
  • What’s ahead for housing
  • What’s hot and what’s not in home improvement projects
  • How consumers use the Web for home improvement projects

For more information, visit www.hiri.org or call 813-627-6976.

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