Spoiled by modern conveniences few of us think of how simple changes in our daily chores can go towards conserving energy. Did you know that at least 85% of the energy a washing machine uses actually goes to heating the water? Washing clothes in cold water can curb a sufficient amount of energy. At the same time save dryer energy by drying clothes on a line or drying rack. Nothing like a breath of fresh air brought to line dried clothes!
Consumers can save money and conserve energy by adjusting their thermostats during hours away from home. Programmable thermostats are a valuable consideration. Set these to turn heat and air conditioners to higher or lower temps during your non-use or don’t need hours. For example, lower heat at night and use an extra blanket greenhouse air conditioner. When plugged in but turned off some home appliances still draw energy. A computer for example uses about 20 watts even though it is not being used, an entertainment center 17 watts and a DVD boom player about 9 watts. Know which appliances draw energy when not in use and unplug them until needed.
When leaving a room or leaving home for an extended time turn off your lights. Turn lights off during the day and open curtains or shades to make use of the sunlight. Avoid using incandescent light bulbs as they emit tons of greenhouse gases. Change to Compact Fluorescent Lamps-CFLs-which use only 20-30 percent of the energy required by an incandescent bulb to create the same amount of light. Light Emitting Diodes or LEDs are the way to go as they use only 10% of the amount of energy an incandescent bulb uses. These choices not only reduce carbon emissions, but they also reduce your electric bill!
Housing characteristics, including construction type, architectural characteristics, and quantity of construction from the 86 counties and parishes in the three hardest-hit states (Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama) were gleaned from 2000 Census Bureau data. Modelers established a baseline of what existed pre-Katrina using DOE-2 modeling software to compare the economic and environmental benefits of rebuilding in an energy efficient manner. For the ease of modeling a representative sample, only single-family homes units were considered since 67% of the homes destroyed were this housing type. Means Cost Data aided in modeling the “per unit cost to rebuild” each home for each scenario. NAHB data described the housing starts projections for 2005-2010 while additional economic characteristics for the region were gathered from the 2000 U.S. Census.
Codes and Standards
The codes climate in these three states gave a snapshot of what would be practical to expect during the rebuild. As of August 29, 2005, the local codes for energy efficiency in the three states were based on standards as recent as the year 2000 and as old as 1975 . However, recent code revisions have made an energy efficient rebuild possible. For example, the newly-revised IECC 2006 of the International Codes Council was considered in one scenario. And since the government-sponsored ENERGY STAR program of the EPA amended its New Homes Guidelines in October 2005 , and those guidelines are effective beginning January 1, 2006, those guidelines were considered as another scenario.
Options for the Gulf Coast Rebuild
Four scenarios were selected for modeling, against a baseline set at the Model Energy Code 1993 (MEC 93). In this baseline, it was assumed that all houses destroyed had indeed been constructed to a code standard that was approximately a decade old. Yet, as can be seen from a cursory review of the codes for these states, it is probable that many of these houses were not built to such a recent code. Nonetheless, the baseline was established as if the home had a window solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) of 0.58, a wall R-value of 13, an attic R-value of 23, an air conditioner Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER) of 10, and an estimated size of 2,000 s.f.
Using datasets of several thousand factors and applying those factors to the four basic upgrades in energy efficiency, researchers modeled 72,000 DOE-2 runs to characterize the impacts in two climate zones, and eight cities in the Gulf Coast region affected. This modeling provided the baseline for a “plain vanilla” single-family housing unit in the three states on August 29th, 2005, for comparison with four energy efficiency upgrades.