Tag Archives: Energy Cost Reduction

Free class on cold-climate building to be offered in Bethel

From The Tundra Drums, Friday, October 14, 2010:

A free class will be offered in conjunction with Bethel’s second annual energy fair.

The Advanced Cold Climate Building Techniques will take place Oct. 28 and 29, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. in room 118 at UAF’s Kuskokwim University Campus in Bethel.

For those who wish to earn CEUs, or Continuing Education Units, the cost is $45. This class gives licensed builders and construction folks a residential certification. (This is a $480 class in Anchorage.)

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AHFC’s Home Energy Rebate Program Receives National Recognition

From Alaska Housing Finance Corporation:

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) recently announced that AHFC’s Home Energy Rebate Program is one of the exceptional state-led energy-efficiency programs in the United States. ACEEE recognized a total of just 18 top programs from 14 states. AHFC’s Home Energy Rebate Program received one of 10 honorable mentions awarded.Alaska’s Home Energy Rebate Program helps homeowners reduce energy costs by providing rebates toward the cost of energy-efficiency improvements. Energy ratings are required before and after improvements. Homeowners pay all costs upfront, and the rebate is paid out based on increased energy efficiency and eligible receipts. The maximum rebate is $10,000. Homeowners have 18 months to complete the program.

Dan Fauske, AHFC CEO/Executive, said, “Our calculations show people reduce energy use by about 30 percent and save nearly $1,600 a year on average. We are thrilled to be recognized for successfully rolling out this program in an extremely short timeframe. Although we had some bumps along the road, the response from those completing the program has been overwhelmingly positive.”

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University of Alaska gets $3 million grant for rural hybrid energy

From The Associated Press, Friday, September 17, 2010:

A University of Alaska group will receive $3 million to study options to optimize wind-diesel hybrid energy systems in rural Alaska.

The Alaska Center for Energy and Power, based at UA Fairbanks, was awarded the grant by the federal Department of Energy.

The university says Alaska already has systems pairing wind turbines with diesel power plants but many are not performing as designed due to extreme weather and remote, distributed grid systems.

Research paid for by the grant will investigate technical issues related to power stability, long-term energy storage and control systems to better use fluctuating wind power.

Research also will investigate turbine performance in cold climates and remote locations and challenges such as icing, foundations in poor soils and remote monitoring.

DOE Answers Your Weatherization Questions

From US DOE, Monday, August 20, 2010:

Last week as part of Vice President Biden’s announcement of 200,000 homes weatherized under the Recovery act, we asked you to send us your questions and comments about the weatherization process. Today, we’re following up with answers experts from the Department’s Weatherization and Intergovernmental Program:

1) From edmooney via Twitter: @Energy Besides caulking, what are the best values in weatherization for the Northeast region. #weatherization

Nationwide, the energy-efficient retrofits that consistently provide the best return on investment involve sealing gaps in the building envelope which allows conditioned air – either heated or cooled – to escape the interior of the home. States in the Northeast region, which on average have an exceptionally high number of heating degree days each season, are particularly susceptible to energy loss through poor air sealing of the building envelope.

These gaps in the building envelope can include joints between materials, gaps around doors and windows, and penetrations for piping, wiring, and ducts. A blower door test can be used identify these gaps and measure the aggregate degree of air infiltration into your home. Retrofit measures such as caulking, weather stripping, gaskets, and duct sealing can be used to seal these gaps and improve the energy efficiency of your home.

Continue reading: Response to Weatherization Questions

Taking the chill out of Arctic homes

From The Arctic Sounder, Wednesday, August 25, 2010:

The success of an innovative new home in Anaktuvuk Pass – which uses a wind power, solar panels and design features of traditional Nunamiut sod housing – is changing the way houses will be designed and built on the North Slope.

“This is a huge leap forward – I hope it has tremendous impact,” said Daryl Kooley, of the Tagiugmiullu Nunamiullu Housing Authority.

The house used just 87 gallons of heating fuel from November to June. Other homes typically use about 100 gallons of fuel per month.

It also cost a lot less to build – just $220,000, compared to a normal three-bedroom home in Anaktuvuk Pass, which runs upwards of $570,000.

The house was the prototype in an effort to find ways of building better, more cost-effective houses in rural Alaska, which “grew out of the fact that estimates for new housing were so extraordinary,” Kooley said. A modest, three-bedroom home in Nuiqsut constructed in the usual way, for example, can cost over $1 million to build.

That is a real problem in North Slope villages, which suffer over-crowded, crumbling homes in desperate need of replacement. To find a solution, TNHA teamed up with the Cold Climate Housing Research Center, a nonprofit that works on developing housing designs for the circumpolar north.

“We are going to have diminishing financial resources for building in rural Alaska given the economic reality of the U.S. So how can we together address the high cost of housing? We can do that together so the future is a little brighter for these communities,” said CCHRC president and CEO Jack Hebert.

The Anaktuvuk Pass prototype house was the first structure built as part of CCHRC’s Sustainable Northern Communities project, a program begun in 2008 to engineer housing solutions for rural northern communities.

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Delusions Abound on Energy Savings, Study Says

From NYTimes.com, Wednesday, August 18, 2010:

When it comes to saving energy, many Americans seem to get it — and at the same time they don’t get it at all.

That’s the takeaway from a new study by researchers from Columbia University, Ohio State University and Carnegie Mellon University who found that people are far more likely to focus on switching off lights or unplugging appliances than on buying new bulbs or more efficient refrigerators. But people’s perceptions of the relative savings of various actions are significantly at variance with reality.

“Participants estimated that line-drying clothes saves more energy than changing the washer’s settings (the reverse is true) and estimated that a central air-conditioner uses only 1.3 times the energy of a room air-conditioner (in fact, it uses 3.5 times as much),” the researchers wrote.

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Fairbanks Borough Assembly gives it approval to plan to truck liquefied gas

From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Friday, July 30, 2010:

The Borough Assembly passed a resolution approving the port authority’s plan to purchase Fairbanks Natural Gas LLC and launch a natural gas trucking operation.

A separate measure calling for a public vote on the plan narrowly failed.

The $250 million project now goes before the Regulatory Commission of Alaska.

“People are waiting for energy relief,” Assemblywoman Kelly Brown said. “I don’t believe they need to wait anymore.”

Architects of the plan include municipal officials who belong to the Alaska Gasline Port Authority’s board of directors. The agency is backed by the Fairbanks North Star Borough and the city of Valdez.

They say the trucking operation will result in a 25 percent drop in natural gas prices in Fairbanks and a 6 percent drop in electric bills.

Continue reading: Fairbanks Borough Assembly gives it approval to plan to truck liquefied gas

Criticism mounts for call to truck liquefied natural gas to Fairbanks

From The Fairbanks Daily Newsminer, Thursday, July 29, 2010:

A plan to transfer Fairbanks Natural Gas LLC from private to public ownership and truck liquefied natural gas to Fairbanks from the North Slope is doomed, according to an Alaska Gasline Port Authority board member.

Board member Merrick Peirce wrote in an e-mail that the assumption behind the $250 million business deal — that crude oil prices will continue to rise — is flawed because more crude oil production is coming online in Iraq, increasing the world’s supply.

In interviews, other port authority board members defended the plan and refuted Peirce’s claims. They said the proposal, to be financed with bonds, provides the best possibility of quickly lowering energy prices in Fairbanks.

Decades of talk about building a natural gas pipeline have yet to produce results. “We have not given up on the pipeline,” said Dave Cobb, Valdez Councilman and vice chairman of the port authority governing board. “That is still our No. 1 priority, but you have to do something in the interim.”

The port authority is a partnership between the Fairbanks borough and the city of Valdez that was created to build a gas pipeline to Valdez. Peirce offered his criticism in an e-mail to the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly, which tonight considers a resolution to accept the authority’s proposed purchase of Fairbanks Natural Gas. The assembly also will consider an ordinance that would require a public vote to broaden the port authority’s mission statement before it goes ahead with the trucking plan.

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Report: Home Size is Declining, Energy Efficiency a Factor

From the US Dept. of Energy:

The size of new U.S. single-family homes completed in 2009 declined, dropping to a nationwide average of 2,438 square feet and reversing trend of the past three decades, according to a National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). New single-family homes were almost 100 square feet smaller in 2009 than they were in 2007, according to recently released U.S. Census Bureau data. One reason for the drop, NAHB noted, was homeowners’ desire to keep energy costs in check. This growing energy-efficiency consciousness is one of many trends that the association said was likely to continue.

Continue reading: Report: Home Size is Declining, Energy Efficiency a Factor