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​ENERGY EFFICIENCY: A 'zero' vision for California homes

mark handler

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ENERGY EFFICIENCY: A 'zero' vision for California homes

Super-efficient dwellings are intended to help reduce fossil-fuel use in California.

http://www.pe.com/articles/energy-801503-new-home.html?page=2

Eight years ago, when California regulators decided that by 2020 every newly built home should produce as much power as it used, the idea was novel enough to be nearly unimaginable.

Even in a state where energy-saving construction was already the norm, there was only a handful of such super-efficient dwellings, owned mostly by wealthy early adopters.

Today, a Golden State dotted with futuristic homes is in sight, the notion of thousands of new residences running tiny rooftop solar-power plants no longer far-fetched.

No law decrees a “zero net energy” landscape, although the state building code may require solar panels for new residential construction – not existing homes – by 2020. And no one is suggesting that Californians who buy brand-new houses in four years will be going off the grid or answering to energy inspectors, officials say.

Rather, their homes will be designed to use power so efficiently that they’ll get most of what they need from their own solar production or from renewable sources set up for neighborhood use.

“You are pretty much there if you add solar panels,” said Dave Ashuckian, manager of efficiency programs for the California Energy Commission, one of the regulatory agencies that created the policy.

Additional measures, such as use of electricity in off-peak hours, will help. Homeowners may even receive credit for sending energy to the state grid when it’s most needed.

The Energy Commission and the Public Utilities Commission are still deciding the best way to implement the “zero” energy vision, as the state moves to reduce the use of fossil fuels for a less carbon-choked California.

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A new law took effect this year to dramatically increase Californians’ use of renewable sources, such as sun and wind, and in the energy-efficiency of its millions of office and residential buildings, to slash power consumption in half within the next 14 years.

The law is not clear on exactly how this should be done. Regulators who are working out the details say the building code will be the key mechanism, at least in the short term.

In the meantime, new energy-neutral homes will help. And Gov. Jerry Brown has decreed that new and remodeled state-owned buildings meet that standard beginning in 2025.

California’s building code is already the strictest in the nation, requiring relatively high efficiency in newly built or significantly renovated homes and commercial structures. It is likely that a requirement for solar energy production will be added for new builds in 2020, according to Ashuckian.

It was Dian M. Grueneich, a member of the California Public Utilities Commission, who introduced the energy-neutral-home idea in 2007, a year after the state passed a landmark law to combat climate change. The agency formalized her standard in 2008.

At that time, the concept of a such commercially ready home was on a far horizon -- technologically achievable, but barely. Grueneich said then that it takes a “big, bold goal” to prompt innovation.

Now, the plummeting cost of solar energy and California’s new efficiency law will combine to carry the state “dang close” to its goal, said Mindy Craig, an energy-policy specialist who is consulting with officials on a plan to get all the way there. But it’s complicated.

New requirements must not cause homeowners undue financial hardship, officials say. And climate regions vary, as do home designs, defying straightforward, across-the-board calculations.

Craig said she’s been working to come up with a “solar-ready” concept, much as the city of Santa Monica already requires, in which builders leave space on the roofs of new homes so panels can be installed later.

And California has 16 designated climate zones, some where solar power is consistent and some that are sun-deprived for months each year.

Requiring solar energy production by every new home “will not be cost effective in every climate zone,” said the energy commission’s Ashuckian. “That will create a cost premium of thousands of dollars. We don’t want that to happen.”

A possible solution is zone-by-zone requirements, he said. And “it’s very likely we’ll say there are certain building types where it’s not cost effective.”

Ashuckian said officials were still studying what a new zero-energy home would cost – a calculation subject to a wide array of estimates and little agreement. He said a luxury model might be 10-20 percent more expensive than a similar but non-efficient home, but owners would save significantly on utility bills.

Joe Emerson, founder of ZeroHomes.org, a Bend, Ore., information clearinghouse, pegged the difference at 5 percent, after tax deductions and other incentives, such as rebates, are factored in.

“In the beginning, these homes were built for rich people who said, ‘I want one.’ They were expensive. Now, all the techniques and technology we use are off the shelf,” which has lowered building costs, he said.

He agreed an efficient home would ultimately save its owner money. In addition, he said, “it’s a more comfortable, better-made home.”
 

conarb

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Oct 22, 2009
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California East Bay Area
First of all new home sales have fallen off the charts, due to a combination or regulation and the loss of full time jobs to qualify for loans as low as interest rates are.

View attachment 2209

Next, the perception of low quality in new homes is killing sales, a lady complained to the CBO in one of our cities that her new "green home" was making her sick, he advised to sell it and find a good 50 year-old home and "remodel it very judicially". Some comments about this on ZeroHedge.
Who wants to own a new home in the U.S.S.A.? They're giant cardboard boxes, unless you want to spend another 30-40% paying for upgrades and quality.
Homes built in the mid 70's-80s are the best imo.
You would actually be wrong, houses built right around 1940-1960 are the best built homes around. May need some work now, but structurally sound. A few upgrades and you are good to go. The stick homes they started putting up in the 70's are terrible, low grade materials and workmanship.
Stick homes--the so called ballon frame--homes have always been a feature of American home construction. As prices rose, quality materials fell. The integrity of the average "craftsman" on US homes is dismal. The thinking is if the kitchen appliances are flashy (granite counters) that's enough. The USA is a crap civilization.
I like the mold-impregnated, cancer-causing walls of the Gulf houses. My friend almost bought a house in Central Houstin until he realized the mold in the walls might kill him from cancer. Add to that the pesticides previous tenants used and you get a real need for that there MDAnderson Cancer Hospital [which is doing a booming business!].
Here is a white paper written by a guy who had to replace his washer with a new front loader (read little water usage), he is of the opinion that his problems are due to the fact that he required a 24" stackable washer, but the same applies to any full size low water washer. It's well-written and worth the time to read, if there is anything that gets wealthy people really pissed off it's the government telling them how much water they can use for their lawns, their showers, or to flush their toilets, or how much energy they can use to light and/or heat their homes. View attachment 2209

/monthly_2016_05/Capture6.png.c7f0eea032848abe2a05c2d0f3244780.png
 

tmurray

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Like anything, all of this only goes as far as the home owner's education on how to use the systems in their home. These products and practices in the hands of someone who is educated enough to use them are great ideas, but once the education is taken away, they can be a hazard. For instance, mechanical ventilation is required in Canada because we build houses very tight to reduce heat loss in winter. Most home owners when moving in turn the ventilation unit off because "someone told me it wastes energy" now they have moisture and mold issues in their home. So now we have someone blaming the builder that the house is making them sick, but is it the builders responsibility to show them how to use the products in their home? Many feel so and do show their clients how to use the features of their new homes. Individuals drafting legislation must put themselves in the place of the average home owner. Products and technology that do not require interaction from the building occupants are always best because people can't screw them up.

This is no different than modern construction materials. They have their use and it is not identical to the products they replaced. Education is required for the trades-person to correctly use these materials. We all know what happens without that critical understanding of something.
 

Msradell

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Louisville Kentucky
I noticed that one of the recommendations in the drawing of the energy-efficient home for California was for tankless water heating. There's so much controversy with that is economical or not and it's certainly not suitable for a solar powered home because of its huge instantaneous demand! It seems like a storage system would be much more beneficial for that type of application.
 

conarb

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Oct 22, 2009
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California East Bay Area
I think it's there to save water rather than energy. People let water run until it's hot unless they have a recirculating system that even with insulated piping is always heating water to keep it in the system
 

tmurray

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With all these measures, you're still looking at a grid connected system, so the demand of the instantaneous water heater will be handled by the power from the grid. Personally, I don't like mandating one type of system over another one, provided they can be constructed as equals. Instantaneous make sense in households with fewer people, but we are starting to see a trend of multi-generational living. This destroys the gains of the instantaneous system. Maybe a better way would be to also allow storage units provided a maximum horizontal run could be accommodated.
 
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mark handler

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ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES

For homes that use 41 gallons or less of hot water daily, demand water heaters can be 24%–34% more energy efficient than conventional storage tank water heaters. They can be 8%–14% more energy efficient for homes that use a lot of hot water -- around 86 gallons per day. You can achieve even greater energy savings of 27%–50% if you install a demand water heater at each hot water outlet. ENERGY STAR® estimates that a typical family can save $100 or more per year with an ENERGY STAR qualified tankless water heater. http://energy.gov/energysaver/tankless-or-demand-type-water-heaters
 
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ADAguy

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California
Yes Mark but a tank can act as a reserve in the event of a quake and when will reroofing require addition of solar panels?
We had solar tanks in Pasadena back in 1900, we often overlook past efficient products.
 

mark handler

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So. CA
Keeping water hot is not energy-efficienct.
Storage of water for a possible future disaster is a different issue.
Storage of water can also bring in issues like Legionella
 
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