Fall 1998

Nebraska Energy Quarterly logo Nebraska Energy Quarterly gasoline pump

Plants and Crops to Star in New Roles in the Future

New Research Opportunities for Nebraska Agriculture...

Irrigation Essentials

According to a 1996 survey by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, 8.1 million acres of cropland are irrigated in the state.

Blanketing Your House

Checking your home's insulating system is one of the fastest and most cost-efficient ways to use a whole-house approach to reduce energy waste and maximize your energy dollars.

Data Mining on the World Wide Web

There are countless web sites that offer energy-related data...

In Brief...

Omaha Selected Clean City #66...

Balancing the Supply and Demand of Recycling

In April, a comprehensive strategy to develop new markets for products made with recycled content was launched by the state.

State's Energy Heads See Latest in Renewables

Nebraska Benefiting from Ethanol and Wind Research...

Science and Math Teachers Awarded Energy Grants

From Alda to Wilber... Twenty teams of Nebraska elementary, middle and high school teachers will receive grants of up to $2,500 to create innovative energy-related projects in their math and science classrooms.

6% Dollar & Energy Saving Loans

Questions and answers about energy saving loans...


Plants and Crops to Star in New Roles in the Future

In the next few years, could the state's Energy Office help irrigators, environmentalists and power companies reach the water use goals that are an essential part of the Kingsley Dam relicensing?

Or possibly help others in parts of the state such as the Republican River Valley where water use is or may become restricted?

Such a scenario could easily happen because of an obscure change in one of the many programs operated by the federal Department of Energy.

Five Become Seven

For the past several years, the federal energy department has spent millions of dollars to finance research and improvements in what the agency called, "Industries of the Future." The industries were limited to just five aluminum, chemical, glass, metal and steel. The goal of the multi-year effort is to reduce energy costs and prevent pollution through the development of improved industry-specific technology.

Currently, these industries of the future use more than 80 percent of the energy consumed by industry and produce 90 percent of the waste by all industries in the United States.

In January of this year, the list of industries was broadened to include forests and agriculture, under the banner of "plant/crop-based renewable resources."

Earlier this year, the Energy Department awarded nearly $2.5 million for future industrial projects in 17 states. Millions of dollars of additional research funding is invested separately in specific industry competitive grants.

The approaches used in Industries of the Future partnerships bring national energy laboratories and educational institutions together with industries to advance technological techniques and develop new ways to use resources more efficiently.

Agricultural scientists and farmers are developing new ways to improve methods to save water, soil, money and energy. For example, a large expense for farmers in Nebraska is irrigation and the energy needed to power it.

One of the goals of this effort is to replace fossil fuels with plants as the main chemical building blocks to meet the needs of society. Corn could become just such a building block of the future. According to researchers, there is more carbon in a barrel of corn than in a barrel of oil. But today, we cannot technologically tap into the corn carbon as we do with the carbon in oil.

In September, more than 100 scientists and others including Nebraska Energy Director Bob Harris got together to chart the near-term direction of plant research so the goal to unlock carbon in plants could be achieved. The group hopes that within 20 years, ten percent of all petroleum-based chemicals will come from plants, and that by 2050, half of the chemicals used will come from plants. Today, chemicals from plants replace only two percent of fossil fuels used for these purposes.

Achieving these goals could utilize from one to five billion bushels of corn annually. According to a September forecast by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the 1998 corn harvest is estimated at 9.738 billion bushels. If the Industry of the Future 20-year goal becomes reality and corn harvests remain unchanged, about ten percent of the nation's corn production could be diverted for use as chemical feedstocks.

Projects in Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska

Farmers are saving money by increasing energy efficiency and converting or replacing irrigation systems and water pumps.

Irrigation systems with energy efficient pumps also save water by lowering evaporation and runoff by watering crops only as much as needed and providing the water with less wasted energy. Converted pumps run at 80-90% energy efficiency and substantially lower operating costs.

Surging to Savings

Another money and energy saver for agriculture is surge irrigation. This type of irrigation sends controlled pulses of irrigation water down the crop furrows. In one project currently underway, the controlled pulses are created by using inexpensive photocells. These photocells allow for surges of water to be alternated between sets of furrows and at alternate times.

Previous studies by universities in Utah, Texas and Colorado found water use from surge irrigation can be reduced by 12 to 50 percent. An additional advantage is surge irrigation has significant cost savings over installing a new low-energy precision application system. According to a Texas A&M study, a surge system cost $48.83 per acre while a new low-energy precision application system was $238.72 per acre.

The Nebraska Cooperative Extension Service estimates furrow irrigation is used on more than half the acres in the state. While some farmers are switching from furrow irrigation to center pivots to reduce labor and improve performance, surge irrigation might be a better option for some farmers. The water savings from surge irrigation result in reduced pumping costs. Studies have indicated that for each inch of water saved, pumping cost savings may exceed $150 for a quarter section of a crop. Surge irrigation has other advantages as well elimination of tailwater and reduced leeching of pesticides and fertilizers. The use of photocells in the three-state project might increase even those substantial savings.

For more information about Industries of the Future or the agricultural projects across the nation, contact Doug Faulkner, phone 202-586-2119, email Doug Faulkner

Information about the irrigation projects that are underway in Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska can be obtained from Conrad Bauer, Energy Conservation for Colorado Agriculture, phone 970-332-3173; Bob Zebroski, Colorado State Soil Conservation Service, 1313 Sherman Street, Room 219, Denver, Colorado 80203, phone 303-866-3351; or Ron Scheier, High Plains Pilot Project, 210 West 10th, Goodland, Kansas 67735.

For information about irrigation system options in Nebraska, contact Laverne Stetson at 402-472-2945 or Paul Jasa at 402-472-6715.

Return to top


Irrigation Essentials

According to a 1996 survey by the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, 8.1 million acres of cropland are irrigated in the state.

Nebraska ranks second nationally after California in the number of acres of irrigated land. According to the University of Nebraska's Institute for Agriculture and Natural Resources, corn is grown on about 70 percent of the irrigated acres.

Pivot_ma.gif (25818 bytes)

Merrick County had the most irrigation wells, 4,273, in 1997. In land area, Hamilton County has the most acres under irrigation, 272,000, followed closely by Dawson County with 268,000 acres and York County with 260,000 acres.

Historically, Nebraska irrigators relied on electricity and diesel fuel to power more than 60 percent of the irrigation systems. The balance of the systems are fueled by natural gas, propane and gasoline.

In the past eight years, the Energy Office has financed more than $5 million for 319 energy efficiency projects on irrigation systems located across the state. The improvements have varied from installation of low-pressure pivots and conversion of high-pressure to low pressure pivots, to replacement of existing pumps and motors.

Irrigation projects have been financed by the Energy Office in nearly half of the state's 93 counties. Irrigation system improvements in just five counties have accounted for half of all the financing, $2.55 million.

In order, the top five counties are:

  1. Lincoln, $726,394
  2. Keith, $673,425
  3. Perkins, $509,411
  4. Chase, $340,544
  5. Frontier, $301,076

Return to top


Blanketing Your House... Getting Ready for Winter

pink roll insulation

Checking your home's insulating system is one of the fastest and most cost-efficient ways to use a whole-house approach to reduce energy waste and maximize your energy dollars.

A good insulating system includes a combination of products and construction techniques that provide a home with thermal performance, protect it against air infiltration and control moisture. You can increase the comfort of your home while reducing your heating and cooling needs by up to 30 percent by investing just a few hundred dollars in proper insulation and weatherization products.

Batts, Rolls and Boards

First, check the insulation in your attic, ceilings, exterior and basement walls, floors and crawl spaces to see if it meets the recommended levels. (Exterior walls can be checked by removing a telephone or cable TV wall plate, or by drilling a small hole in a closet wall or other inconspicuous location). Insulation is measured in R-values the higher the R-value, the better your walls and roofs will resist the transfer of heat. The U.S. Department of Energy recommends ranges of R-values based on local heating and cooling costs and climate conditions in different areas of the nation.

In Nebraska, the following minimum insulation levels are recommended for areas in homes. In many cases it may pay to exceed these minimum values:

Minimum Insulation Levels in Nebraska:
  • Ceilings below ventilated attics gas, oil or electric heat pump R-38 (13" of batt or blown-in insulation)
  • Electric resistance R-49 (16" of batt or blown-in insulation)
  • Floors over unheated crawl spaces and basements R-19 (6.5" of batt insulation or 3" to 6" of foam board insulation)
  • Exterior walls (wood frame) R-19 (6.5" of batt insulation or 3" - 6" of foam board insulation)
  • Crawl space walls and band joints R-11 (3.5" of blown-in insulation)

Although insulation is made from a variety of materials, it usually comes in three types batts, loose-fill and rigid foam boards. Each type is made to fit in a different part of your house. Batts are made to fit between the joists of your ceilings, walls or floors. Batts are usually made of fiber glass or rock wool. Fiber glass is manufactured from sand and recycled glass, and rock wool is made from basaltic rock and recycled materials from steel mill wastes. Batts can be laid over the ceiling in the attic. Loose-fill insulation, usually made of fiber glass, rock wool or cellulose, is blown into the attic or walls. Cellulose is made from recycled materials, such as newspapers, and treated with fire-retardant chemicals.

Rigid foam boards are made of polyurethane, polyisocyanurate, and extruded or expanded polystyrene. These boards are lightweight, provide a small amount of structural support and generally have an R-value of 4 to 7 per inch of thickness. Rigid board insulation is made to be used in confined spaces such as exterior walls, basements, foundation and stem walls, concrete slabs and cathedral ceilings. In most cases, these boards must be covered with a fireproof material such as 1/2" gypsum board.

Things to Note

Consider factors such as your climate, building design and budget when selecting insulation R-value for your home.

Get several bids from different contractors if you intend to hire the work. Ask for references and check with your local Better Business Bureau before making a final decision.

Use higher density insulation, such as rigid foam boards, in cathedral ceilings and as sheathing on exterior walls.

Ventilation plays a large role in providing moisture control and reducing summer cooling bills. Install attic vents to help make sure that there is one inch of ventilation space between the insulation and roof shingles.

Keep insulation at least three inches away from recessed lighting fixtures or other heat-producing equipment unless they are marked "I.C." designed for direct insulation contact.

Follow the product instructions for installation and wear the proper protective gear when installing insulation. The easiest and most cost-effective way to insulate your home is to add insulation in the attic. To find out if you have enough attic insulation, measure the thickness of insulation. If there is less than R-19 (six inches of fiber glass or rock wool or five inches of cellulose) you could probably benefit by adding more.

If your attic has ample insulation and your home still feels drafty and cold in the winter or too warm in the summer, chances are you need to add insulation to the exterior walls as well. This is a more expensive measure that usually requires a contractor, but it is usually worth the costs if you live in a cold climate such as Nebraska. As a general rule, it is more cost effective to add insulation where there is none, rather than increasing insulation in areas that already have some.

How Do You Know If Your Home Needs Insulation?

The answer is probably "yes" if you:

  • Have an older home and haven't added insulation. In a recent survey, only 20 percent of homes built before 1980 were well insulated.
  • Are uncomfortably cold in the winter or hot in the summer adding insulation creates a more uniform temperature and increases comfort.
  • Build a new house or addition, or install new siding or roofing.
  • Pay excessive energy bills.
  • Are bothered by noise from the outdoors insulation helps muffle the sound.
  • Are concerned about the affect of energy use on the environment.
  • Notice snow melts from the main part of your roof more rapidly than from the eves.
Information for these consumer tips is based on Energy Savers: Tips on Saving Energy & Money at Home by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Return to top


Data Mining on the World Wide Web

Are you writing a paper on solar power and you want to find out how many companies produced solar thermal collectors from 1980 to 1990?

Does your boss want to know how many barrels of oil were produced in Richardson County in 1978? Perhaps you want to compare Nebraska's energy consumption to that of other states? Answers to these and many other questions are closer than you might think.

There are countless web sites that offer energy-related data. Government web sites have a lot of information and data that can assist in your research. Many of these sites also contain reports on conservation, production and consumption trends as well as numerous other subjects.

For the most recent state and local energy data, access the Nebraska Energy Office's web site.

Currently, the web site is getting a major face lift. The agency's web site displays data and information in a variety of areas such as energy prices and consumption by type of energy within economic sectors.

There is also a page with "links" to the Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration, where you will find a wealth of data and useful reports. This site offers the most current national energy statistics available, except for state-specific data which can lag three to four years behind national figures.

Honing the Search

The large number of web sites and the varying quality of information can make using the web for research a daunting proposition. How can you find other web pages that pertain to the subject you are researching?

There are several "search engines" available that allow you to find web sites that contain information for which you are looking.

To use a search engine you simply type in the words (e.g., a name) of what you are trying to find. These search engines do a good job of finding web pages that contain these words. Unfortunately, they do not necessarily distinguish among pages that contain exactly what you want and those that merely have the words you typed.

For example, a recent search on a popular search engine for "energy data" provided 200,941 web pages that contain the words "energy" and "data." Clearly, not all of these pages have information relevant to energy data and not all have exactly what you are trying to find.

Adding more words to the original search can help reduce the number of web pages the search engine finds. But the way some search engines operate, adding more words will increase the number of sites found!

What can you do? The key to using a search engine to find specific information is to be a smart search engine user. Most search engines allow you to customize how your study is conducted. Furthermore, the better search engines provide users tips and other tools that can assist in targeting information. Look for a "search options" button or link that allows you to enhance your quest. There are also "composite" search engines that scan several general search engines simultaneously! This can be a useful first step to help you find specific information and eliminate useless web sites.

Search Engine Tips

  • Use ideas and concepts instead of just keywords
  • Use more than one word in your search
  • Use descriptive, specific words as opposed to general ones
  • Explore ways to employ advanced search options
  • Know when to say when. Limit the amount of time you spend "surfing" for information
  • Know when to ask for help
  • Keep in mind that some information may not be available on the web

General Search Engines

  • Excite at www.excite.com provides plenty of ways to customize and limit your search.
  • Infoseek at www.infoseek.com is a solid search engine that is very user friendly.
  • Lycos at www.lycos.com has many advanced customization options through its Lycos "pro" option.
  • Magellan at www.mckinley.com is a very good search engine that can be extensively customized.
  • Yahoo at www.yahoo.com is the industry standard and fun to say.
  • Webcrawler at www.webcrawler.com is one of the first general search engines.

Composite Search Engines

The Energy Office's and Energy Information Administration's web sites are listed on this page, as well as some tips and a list of popular search engines.

If you have questions about gathering energy data and finding other energy information on the web, please contact Jonathan Strand in the Energy Office, phone 402-471-3538, or email Jonathan Strand.

Happy hunting!

Return to top


Balancing the Supply and Demand of Recycling

In April, a comprehensive strategy to develop new markets for products made with recycled content was launched by the state.

The initiative, called Market for Recyclables: Nebraska's Blueprint for Action, outlines specific steps to foster the development of products that utilize recycled materials.

Clear Directions

The plan has five parts and each part of the plan has multiple strategies:

One: New product development

  • Develop and market new products made from recycled materials.
  • Create a statewide technical research database that compares performance standards between recycled and non-recycled content products.
  • Use early market research to find potential new product markets and risks.
  • Utilize public and private financing for product development research and expansion of manufacturing capacity.
  • Promote demonstrations of new value-added recycled content products.

Two: Procurement

  • Encourage purchasing managers and consumers to buy recycled content products.
  • Encourage public and private purchasing managers to increase the amount of recycled content purchases.
  • Encourage the public to become familiar with and purchase recycled content items.
  • Increase the use of recycled content products by stressing the products' performance advantages.
  • Develop new purchasing programs to promote buying recycled content products.
  • Research present and possible public policies which help or hinder the development of markets for recyclable products.

Three: Market information and assistance

  • Improve the quality of and access to information about recycling, emphasizing strategies that will help those who market recycled content products.
  • Provide direct state financial and technical assistance to producers using recycled materials.
  • Provide consumers with objective and accurate information on recycled content products.

Four: Financial sustainability

  • Make certain recycling is sustainable from supply through end markets, with emphasis on financial sustainability.
  • Provide management assistance to recycling businesses to improve their operations.
  • Provide recycling entrepreneurs with access to local, venture, state and other financial advisors.
  • Encourage localization of unique recycled products.
  • Review existing financial assistance efforts to maximize their effectiveness and increase utilization.

Five: Regionalization

  • Encourage cooperative efforts across broad geographic areas.
  • Provide manufacturers with regional availability of materials.
  • Increase efforts to promote regional marketing.
  • Explore the possibility of providing financial assistance based on volume of materials handled, population served and regional cooperation.

"While the number of collection sites and amount of materials recycled in Nebraska continues to grow, the challenge remains to develop markets for those materials," Governor Nelson said in announcing the effort. "This blueprint highlights the important role the recycling industry plays in job creation and economic development, as well as what people may consider to be its more traditional role of maintaining the environment through the preservation and reuse of natural resources."

According to the State Recycling Association, Nebraskans recycled more than 350,000 tons of materials in 1997. The blueprint charts a path to increase end-use demand for recycled products with the goal to stimulate the collection, processing and manufacturing components of recycling to "complete the recycling loop."

Multi-Millions

A 1997 survey conducted by the state's Department of Economic Development chronicled the impact of recycling on the state's economy:

  • 138 public and private recyclers have invested more than $80 million since 1990.
  • In 1996, capital investment from 104 recyclers was in excess of $42 million.
  • Capital expenditures by the recycling industry over the next five years is projected to exceed $120 million.
  • Recycling related jobs totaled 1,224, of which four of every five employees worked for private businesses.

Each year, two state entities: the Department of Environmental Quality and the Nebraska Environmental Trust provide $6 million in grants to recycling efforts across the state.

The Energy Office's Ann Selzer is one of 12 members of the state's Recycling Economic Development Advocate Support Team that was created in 1994.

For more information on the state's plan, Blueprint for Action, contact Pat Langan at the Department of Economic Development at 471-3766 in Lincoln, toll free at 800-426-6505 or email Pat Langan.

Return to top


Nebraska Benefiting From Ethanol and Wind Research...

State's Energy Heads See Latest in Renewables

Chief executive officers and staff from most of the state's largest utilities, Nebraska's governor and Energy Office members learned about the latest in wind, ethanol, solar and building technologies at the nation's premier research facility in Colorado in May.

Several years ago, Nebraska's Energy Office began working closely with staff at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory on a variety of projects," said Nebraska Governor Ben Nelson.

"Because of these earlier efforts, Nebraska is in a unique position to become a leading laboratory for cutting-edge renewable technologies. The state is blessed with a variety of resources that could propel Nebraska into becoming a major exporter or renewably-generated energy within the next decade."

Governor Nelson and others at NREL
(photo courtesy of National
Renewable Energy Laboratory)

From the Top Down

Governor Nelson, at left, and others on the National Renewable Energy Laboratory tour learn about the Alternative Fuels User Facility's fermentation pilot plant and how researchers and industry are finding ways to produce ethanol from non-grain feedstocks.

The governor was joined at the Laboratory by Bill Mayben of Nebraska Public Power District, Terry Bundy of Lincoln Electric System and Larry Marquis of NMPP Energy as well as staff and board members from Omaha Public Power, Loup Public Power in Columbus and the Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska. Natural gas officials included Jerry Radek from Metropolitan Utilities District in Omaha, Larry Hall and Stu Wheeler of KN Energy and staff from Utilicorp.

"Nebraska's close ties with the Laboratory is one of the reasons Lincoln Electric System and Nebraska Public Power District will be testing the latest in wind technology," Nelson said. The utilities will be constructing wind turbines to generate electricity at sites near Lincoln and Springview.

The Laboratory is also pioneering in ethanol production and solar research. "We believe the next several years of research will provide cost and technology breakthroughs in ethanol production," Nelson said.

Return to top


1998 Science and Math Energy Grant Winners

From Alda to Wilber...Science and Math Teachers Awarded

Twenty teams of Nebraska elementary, middle and high school teachers will receive grants of up to $2,500 to create innovative energy-related projects in their math and science classrooms.

The 20 schools will share about $33,500. Nearly $48,000 in grants had been requested by 28 schools. The energy grants were selected through a competitive process, awarded by the Nebraska Science and Math Initiative, and funded by the Energy Office.

"This is a great way for students to learn about energy and improve their math and science skills as the same time," Ann Selzer of the Energy Office said. According to Selzer, each proposed project was reviewed by an award-winning teacher, utility representatives and a University of Nebraska-Lincoln scientist. Selzer said the energy projects will be used in the classroom this fall.

Four Years, Nearly $500,000

Since 1994, 208 science and math teacher teams have received grants of more than $229,000. These grants are part of a larger educational effort financed by the Energy Office from oil overcharge funds. Oil overcharge funds are a result of several court actions against oil companies that overcharged their customers during the period of federal price controls from 1973 to 1981. The courts ordered that some of the funds be distributed to the states as restitution to injured customers.

The Energy Office's educational efforts in partnership with the Initiative began in 1994 with a $500,000 commitment to support teacher training and project grants. Since that time, more than 2,500 elementary teachers have attended workshops that provided ideas on how science and math classes can integrate easily understood energy concepts. "This has been a multi-year effort that has changed how students and teachers see the relationships among science, math and energy," Selzer said.

For more information about energy education in Nebraska schools, contact:
Marilyn Lammers
Nebraska Math and Science Initiative
126 Morrill Hall
Box 880350
Lincoln, NE 68588-0350

Phone 402-472-8965, fax 402-472-9311, email Marilyn Lammers.

Energy Education logo

1998 Science and Math Energy Grant Winners


Alda/Public — $1,076

Teacher: Margaret Christensen

Project: The Importance of Water


Brainard/East Butler — $1,000

Teachers: Sharon Bruner, Charlene Havlovic, Leslie Holthus and Joan Petrzilka

Project: Done in the Sun: Solar Energy


Elkhorn/Middle School — $1,536

Teachers: Carol Engelmann, Scott Fox, Donna Nelson and Carol Richart

Project: Building the Best Solar Car


Farnam/Eustis-Farnam Public — $2,500

Teachers: Cathy Larson and Kelli Beck

Project: Too Hot to Handle


Lincoln/Clinton Elementary — $2,500

Teachers: Pat Closson, Denis Ebeler, Sue Galvin, Margaret Honeycutt and Sue Kirby

Project: Simple Machines: Making Work Easier for Us


Lincoln/Mickle Middle School — $975

Teachers: Mark Bigham and David Hartman

Project: The Sight, Sound and Convenience of Energy


Niobrara/Public — $2,201

Teachers: Mary Eiler and John Niemoth

Project: Water Drainage System


Pleasanton/Public — $1,200

Teachers: Leatta Hand, Larry Johnson

Project: Bridges, Coasters, Structures: An Energy Comparison


Waverly/Hamlow Elementary — $2,500

Teachers: Dianne Krieser and Chris Roffers

Project: Energy of Simple Machines: From Past to Present


Brainard/East Butler — $1,435

Teachers: Mary Lou Meister, Sherri Nielsen and Jill Reinsch

Project: Energy We Use


David City/St. Mary's — $955

Teachers: Linda Maly Jody Pelan

Project: Wind and Wheels


Exeter/Public — $1,060

Teacher: Julia Polak

Project: Losing Your Marbles


Lincoln/Clinton Elementary — $2,200

Teachers: Margaret Honeycutt, Sue Kirby and Beverly Wertz

Project: Making the Electrical Connection for Our Future


Lincoln/Faith Lutheran Elementary — $2,403

Teachers: Krista Barnhouse, Holly Kamprath, Liz Schultz and Nancy Thyparambil

Project: Energy Across the Curriculum: Development of a School-Wide Energy Education Program


Lincoln/Pius X High — $2,479

Teachers: Jeff DeVries and Michelle Strand

Project: Electricity and Alternative Forms of Energy


Omaha/Bancroft — $934

Teachers: Mary Solberg

Project: Energy It's So Exciting!


Rushville/High School — $1,452

Teachers: Beth Hunter, Sherry Retzlaff and Jamalee Stone

Project: Investigations in Physics and Mathematics in Using Roller Coasters


Waverly/Middle School — $1,145

Teachers: Valerie Hill and Shelley Lashley

Project: Solar Shades


Wilber/Wilber-Clatonia High — $2,310

Teachers: Sarah Hartzell and James Rector

Project: Windows

Return to top


The Nebraska Energy Quarterly features questions asked about 6% Dollar and Energy Saving Loans.

Loan forms may be obtained from participating lenders or the Energy Office.

Questions and Answers...

6% Dollar and Energy Saving Loans

Ben Franklin on a $100 bill
Why have requirements for windows changed?

For the first seven years that Dollar & Energy Saving Loans were available, the only requirement for a replacement window was that the window have two panes of glass and the window opening area not increase. In 1997, the Energy Office reviewed the program requirements for the most common projects because changes in building practices and technology improvements had made some of the requirements obsolete. A standard, double-pane window is a project that is so common it no longer encourages people toward "energy efficient" improvements. Since improving energy efficiency is the primary purpose of the loans, the window requirements were raised.

A new Form 2 WINDOW/DOOR is now required for window and door replacements. What information is really needed for a window loan?

The National Fenestration Rating Council is a non-profit, public/private collaboration of manufacturers, builders, designers, code officials, consumers, utilities and regulators. The Council has been charged with establishing a national energy performance rating system for windows and doors as required by the Energy Policy Act of 1992. Products that have been tested for heat loss, both by computer simulation and actual, physical test, are considered "NFRC certified." There are about 30,500 certified products in the 6th edition of the Council's Directory. A new edition is due out very soon.

Loans for windows now require window products (including windows, glass doors and skylights) have an overall R-value of at least 2.5 (U factor < 0.40), based on NFRC tests, or windows have construction features which typically result in a qualifying R-value. There are several ways to document qualifications of a window product for which you have received a bid:

  1. Submit a copy of the National Fenestration Rating Council temporary certification label (see example) for the specific window product to be installed. This is the preferred documentation.
  2. Identify the window product (manufacturer, NFRC product line and individual NFRC product number) so it can be referenced in the NFRC Directory.
  3. Submit manufacturer's data showing the window product is "NFRC certified," or the window has been tested by an independent laboratory using NFRC test methods (both computer simulation and physical heat loss measurement).
  4. Submit manufacturer's product literature showing the window product has the required construction features listed on Form 2 WINDOW/DOOR. If the manufacturer's literature is for a group of products, mark the particular product you intend to install. If you are using this method, place a checkmark in the "construction features" column of Form 2 WINDOW/DOOR. Otherwise, mark "measured performance."

Then complete the form and attach it to your loan application. Copy the total cost for all window products to Line 7 on Form 2. Accurate completion of these forms will avoid delays that can result from the Energy Office contacting lenders for additional information.

Form 2 WINDOW/DOOR also includes doors. What type of information is needed for the loan application?
Nfrc_lab.gif (10465 bytes)

Sliding glass doors and patio doors are considered window products, not doors. Solid doors (also called exterior or slab doors) with only a little glass are dealt with in the lower part of the table on Form 2 WINDOW/DOOR. The NFRC has a test method by which door systems (including door, frame and any glass) can be certified. The test, however, has not yet been utilized by a majority of the manufacturers.

The loans require exterior door systems to have an overall R-value of at least 4.0 (U factor < 0.25), based on NFRC tests, or doors have construction features which typically result in a qualifying R-value. Like windows, door qualifications can be documented by submitting the NFRC label, complete NFRC identification, proof of NFRC certification or equivalent, or proof the required construction features are included for the specific door you want to install.

The form is completed just as for window products, and the total exterior door cost listed on Line 14, Form 2.

How about overhead or garage doors?

These types of doors are treated just like exterior doors on the form. Since there is no NFRC certification for overhead doors, they must qualify based on their construction features.

Where should screen doors be listed on this form?

Screen doors are not included on Form 2 WINDOW/DOOR since their purpose is not to insulate, but to block the wind and hold an insulating air space next to the exterior door. Screen doors should be listed on Form 2, Line 6.

Can larger replacement windows and doors be installed?

As always, the area of (rough) openings for replacement windows and doors cannot be greater than the area of the old openings. Where windows and/or doors are being moved, combined or split, the total area of openings in a building must not increase.

What if the window or door I want doesn't meet the requirements?

You always have the option of submitting an energy audit calculations to demonstrate the energy cost savings of the desired window or door will repay the project cost in 15 years or less. It is very unlikely the calculated payback will be that quick, but if you have a special situation, contact the Energy Office for the Energy Audit Forms 32 and 33.

Return to top


In Brief...

Omaha Selected Clean City #66...

Clean Cities logo

In September, the U.S. Department of Energy named Omaha and its 38 area organizations and businesses as the nation's 66th "Clean City."

A "Clean City" is a voluntary, local partnership between industry and government that expands the use of alternatives to gasoline and diesel fuel.

For several years, an informal interest group has worked in greater Omaha to promote and increase the use of electricity, ethanol, natural gas and propane to replace traditional transportation fuels.

This past summer, the Omaha Fire Department received approval to purchase six cars that operate on 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. These vehicles will be the first alternate fuel ones purchased by the city.

In Perspective...

In April, business analyst John Herold of Stamford, Connecticut calculated the cost of popular consumer items in comparison to the cost of gasoline and crude oil, at $1.08 a gallon and $15.25 a barrel respectively.

The Cost of Popular Consumer Items Compared to Gasoline and Crude Oil
graph of popular consumer items compared to gasoline prices

Return to top


Ongoing


Mission

“The mission of the Nebraska Energy Office is to promote the efficient, economic and environmentally responsible use of energy.”

Return to top


Americans with Disabilities Act

In accordance with the American Disabilities Act, the state will provide reasonable accommodation to persons with disabilities. If you need reasonable accommodation to participate in any program or activity listed in this publication, please contact the Energy Office at 402-471-2186 to coordinate arrangements. Upon request, this publication may be available in alternative formats.

Return to top


DOE Grant

This material was prepared with the support of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Grant No. DE-FG47-92CE60410. However, any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of DOE.

Return to top