Governor Johanns Tours the State's First Nebraska Certified Green Built Home
And Recognizes State's First Certified Home Builders
Governor Mike Johanns launched a new state
effort to maximize energy efficiency and the use of recycled
content materials in new home
construction. The homes also incorporate state of the art building
methods that reduce waste and minimize water and materials.
The state's new Nebraska Certified Green Building program was developed
by the Nebraska Energy Office and the Nebraska State Home Builders over
the past two years. A team of builders developed the criteria and
specifications and standards appropriate for Nebraska.
"A Nebraska Certified Green Built Home is an assurance that a new
home has been built to exacting energy and environmental standards
established by the State of Nebraska's Energy Office and constructed
by a certified builder," Governor Johanns said.
The Governor said the prototype homes under construction are used
as working classrooms where new construction techniques and materials
are demonstrated in "hands-on" sessions for builders, contractors
"I am so pleased that this extraordinary effort has been accomplished
without using any state tax funds," Johanns said. "The Energy Office
loaned trust funds that will be repaid when the homes are sold."
The Governor said the next series of prototype homes will cost
much less and target first-time home buyers.
The Green Built house featured on the tour is estimated to save
$90 a month in energy and water costs. Estimated yearly heating
and cooling costs are $200. Recycled content materials and products
were extensively used throughout the home including drywall, carpet,
exterior decking, flooring, and shingles.
The Department of Environmental Quality provided a grant to the Energy Office
to expand the scope of the Green Building effort enabling information to
be accessible to Nebraskans on the Energy Office's web site.
We have arrived at the dawn of a new day in home
Nebraska today a day where energy efficiency and environmental
concerns are integrated into a new home from the very beginning.
Thanks to the efforts of the Nebraska Energy Office, the Nebraska
State Home Builders Association, the Department of Environmental
Quality and many others, new materials and new ideas are being put
into homes as they're designed and constructed.
The hallmark of these homes features products manufactured from
recycled materials and construction techniques that minimize waste
and reduce energy costs.
Nebraska 's Certified Green Built homes, like this one, use the
latest in energy efficient design, products and systems.
Today officially marks the beginning of the Nebraska Certified
Green Built Home program. It's been in the works for two years,
and we are here to see the results of those efforts.
In consultation with a team of builders, criteria and specifications
were developed for Green Building standards appropriate for Nebraska.
As a result of those efforts, three homes have been built in Lincoln
using the state's standards.
What does "green built" mean for Nebraskans? Simply stated, a
Nebraska Certified Green Built Home is an assurance that
a new home has been built to exacting energy and environmental
standards established by the State of Nebraska's Energy Office
and constructed by a certified builder.
How is a Nebraska Certified Green Built Home different?
First, the home has earned a five-star energy rating.
Second, the home was built by a certified contractor and has
features that make it healthier and more comfortable while
reducing energy use and its impact on the environment.
One of the key features of this home is water conservation.
Throughout this home, water saving elements think of
them as drought busters are employed. Every effort has
been made to reduce water consumption.
Building green, also means keeping more green in Nebraskans'
pockets. The new owners of this home will save about $90
dollars a month compared to a traditionally built home.
While under construction, the three Green Built homes have
been used as working classrooms where new construction techniques
and materials were demonstrated in "hands-on" sessions for builders
and subcontractors as well as tomorrow's builders, students and
faculty from Southeast Community College.
Because of a Department of Environmental Quality grant, Nebraskans
who want to use products and features that reduce waste or have
recycled content can find those items listed on the Energy Office's
web site. Dozens of home construction and water-saving landscaping
techniques are there as well.
I can promise you that there will be more Nebraska Certified Green
Built homes built, and more certified home builders will be trained.
The good news is that the next group of Nebraska Certified Green
Built homes to be constructed will cost even less and target first-time
Let me add that I'm so pleased that this extraordinary effort has
been accomplished without using any state tax funds.
The Energy Office loaned trust funds that will be repaid so that
more prototype homes can be constructed. The funds from the
Department of Environmental Quality came from litter reduction fees.
Now, I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the state's
first three Certified Builders and give them the Nebraska Certified
Green Building plaques.
The first three Nebraska Certified Builders are:
Mike Rezac of Rezac Construction who is
building the house we are in today,
Matt Kleinschmit of Pride Homes, and
Rick Pickel of Eco Development.
I would like to personally thank these individuals for stepping up to
volunteer their time and expertise to bring new construction techniques
that emphasize energy efficiency and environmental concerns to Nebraska
I also want to recognize Lynn Chamberlin, staff architect for the Energy
Office, who led the development of the Nebraska Certified Green Built
Home program. Lynn designed the house on today's tour, and she will be happy
to answer any questions you may have.
Before you leave today, I hope all of you will take time to go through
the house to notice the details that make it special.
For all of you that have a part in the development of Nebraska's
Certified Green Building program, I extend my deepest thanks.
Note: Governor Johanns also recognized the
state's first seven Certified Homebuilders at the event.
The "New Construction" section at
the Energy Office's
web site is a "one stop shop" that contains an ever-expanding array
of products, techniques and information on how homes and other buildings
can be made more energy and resource efficient when they are first built.
Resource Efficient Construction Design Details
Dozens of methods for utilizing resource efficient building techniques
are listed in this section. Diagrams of the construction details are
available in either HTM, PDF or DWF formats. Home
Construction Design Details
A number of issues related to new home construction are addressed
in this section. The information is available in HTM or PDF format.
Home Design & Build Issues
Recycled Content Products
This section contains nearly 200 products used in building construction
that contain recycled content or utilize sustainable resources. Below
is a list of types of building materials, systems and interior products
that have varying percentages of recycled content. Click on the items
in the Recycled Content list below to find
sub-classifications of construction materials with links to specific
product literature. When available, the amount and types of recycled
materials in each product is identified with numbered symbols so that
those products with higher percentages of recycled content can be easily
located. (Some categories are incomplete)
All About Energy Efficient Lighting from Bulbs to Lumens
The quantity and quality of light around us
determine how well we see, work, and play. Light affects our
health, safety, morale, comfort, and productivity.
Lighting also directly affects our economy. As a nation, we spend about
one-quarter of our electricity budget on lighting, or tens of billions
of dollars annually. Yet much of this expense is unnecessary. Technologies
developed during the past 10 years can help us cut lighting costs 30 percent
to 60 percent while enhancing lighting quality and reducing environmental
To save energy while maintaining good light quality and quantity, you need to understand:
Lighting principles and definitions
Types of lighting and how each works
Energy-efficient lighting options, including daylighting, for new or retrofit applications.
Behind the Jargon
To choose the best lighting options, you should understand basic lighting terms,
which will help you better understand the potentially confusing language you could
hear in a lighting store.
A lumen is a measurement of light output from a lamp, often
called a tube or a bulb. All lamps are rated in lumens. For example, a
100-watt incandescent lamp produces about 1,750 lumens.
The distribution of light on a horizontal surface is called its
illumination. Illumination is measured in footcandles.
A footcandle of illumination is a lumen of light distributed over a
one square foot area.
The amount of illumination required varies according to the difficulty
of a visual task. Ideal illumination is the minimum footcandles necessary
to allow you to perform a task comfortably and proficiently without eyestrain.
The Illuminating Engineering Society says that illumination of 30 to 50
footcandles is adequate for most home and office work. Difficult and lengthy
visual tasks like sewing for extended periods of time require
200 to 500 footcandles. Where no seeing tasks (i.e., tasks whose speed and
accuracy of completion are affected by quality and quantity of light) are
performed, lighting systems need to provide only security, safety, or visual
comfort requiring from 5 to 20 footcandles of illumination.
Another lighting term you will hear is efficacy. This is
the ratio of light output from a lamp to the electric power it consumes and
is measured in lumens per watt.
Experts divide lighting uses into three categories: ambient, task and accent
lighting. Ambient lighting provides security and safety, as well as general
illumination for performing daily activities. The goal of task lighting is to
provide enough illumination so that tasks can be completed accurately but not
provide so much light that entire areas are illuminated. Accent lighting
illuminates walls so they blend more closely with naturally bright areas like
ceilings and windows.
Light quality describes how well people in a lighted space can see to do
visual tasks and how visually comfortable they feel in that space. Light
quality is important to energy efficiency because spaces with higher quality
lighting need less illumination. High-quality lighting is fairly uniform in
brightness and has no glare.
For example, direct intense sunlight streaming through the windows
of a room with chocolate brown carpets and dark wall paneling will
likely give too much contrast in brightness. The pupils of your eyes
will constantly adjust to the differing brightnesses. Making this
area visually comfortable would involve using lots of artificial
lighting with a high illumination level.
On the other hand, in a pale-colored room bathed in soft light,
you can hardly tell where the light is coming from because no one
area of the room appears much brighter than another. The walls,
ceiling, floor, and work surfaces are relatively the same light hue.
People can perform tasks faster and with fewer mistakes with this
type of high-quality lighting. Also, lighting such a room requires
far less artificial lighting than the previous example.
Eliminating glare, or excessive brightness from a direct light source,
is essential to achieving good lighting quality. Types of glare include
direct glare, reflected glare and veiling reflections.
Direct glare results from strong light from windows or bright lamps shining
directly into your eyes. Reflected glare is caused by strong light from
windows or lamps that is reflected off a shiny surface into your eyes.
Veiling reflection is a special type of reflected glare that can obscure
contrasts and reduce task clarity. Veiling reflections occur when light is
reflected into your eyes from a work surface, such as a printed page or
a computer screen.
Light Color and Color Rendering
Lamps are assigned a color temperature based on the Kelvin temperature
scale according to their "coolness" or "warmness."
The human eye perceives colors as cool if they are at the blue-green
end of the color spectrum, and warm if they are at the red end of the
Cool light is preferred for visual tasks because it produces higher
contrast than warm light. Contrast is the brightness difference
between different parts of the visual field, which is the expanse
of space you can see at a given instant without moving your eyes.
Warm light is preferred for living spaces because it is more
flattering to skin tones and clothing.
However, a light's color-rendering ability is not related to whether
it is a cool or warm color. For example, blue light from the northern
sky, white light at noon, and red light from a sunset all have perfect
color rendering a CRI of 100 because our eyes are designed
to read the colors of objects illuminated by sunlight.
Types of Lighting
There are four basic types of lighting:
high-intensity discharge, and
Incandescent lighting is the most common type of lighting used in residences.
Fluorescent lighting is used primarily in commercial indoor lighting systems,
while high-intensity discharge lighting is used only for outdoor lighting
applications. Low-pressure sodium lighting is used where color rendering is
not important, such as highway and security lighting. These lighting types
vary widely in their construction, efficiency, color characteristics and lamp
Incandescent lamps are the least expensive to buy, but the most expensive to
operate. Incandescent light is produced by a tiny coil of tungsten wire that
glows when it is heated by an electrical current.
Incandescent lamps have the shortest lives of the common
lighting types. They are also relatively inefficient compared
with other lighting types. However, significant energy and
cost savings are possible if you select the right incandescent
lamp for the right job.
The three most common types of incandescent lights are standard
incandescent, tungsten halogen and reflector lamps.
Known as the A-type light bulb, these lamps are the most
common yet the most inefficient light source available. Larger wattage
bulbs have a higher efficacy than smaller wattage bulbs. Note that a
larger wattage lamp or bulb may not be the most energy- or cost-effective
option, depending on how much light is needed. "Long-life"
bulbs, which have thicker filaments, are a variation of these A-type
bulbs. Although long-life bulbs last longer than their regular
counterparts, they are less energy efficient.
This newer type of incandescent lighting achieves better energy
efficiency than the standard A-type bulb. It has a gas filling and
an inner coating that reflect heat. Together, the filling and coating
recycle heat to keep the filament hot with less electricity. These
lamps are considerably more expensive than standard incandescents
and are primarily used in commercial applications: theater, store
and outdoor lighting systems.
Reflector lamps, also called Type R, are designed to spread light
over specific areas. They are used mainly indoors for stage/theater
and store applications, as well as floodlighting, spotlighting and
Parabolic aluminized reflectors, or Type PAR, are used for outdoor
floodlighting. The ellipsoidal reflector, or Type ER, focuses the
light beam about 2 inches in front of its enclosure and is designed
to project light down from recessed fixtures. Ellipsoidal reflectors
are twice as energy efficient as parabolic reflectors for recessed
The light produced by a fluorescent tube is caused by an electric
current conducted through mercury and inert gases. Fluorescent
lighting is used mainly indoors both for ambient and task
lighting and is about three to four times as efficient as
incandescent lighting. Fluorescent lamps last about ten times longer
than incandescents. But, to gain the most efficiency, you should
install fluorescents in places where they will be on for several
hours at a time.
Fluorescent lights need ballasts for starting and circuit protection.
Ballasts consume energy. You can increase the energy savings for
existing fluorescent lighting by relamping, replacing ballasts and
replacing fixtures with more efficient models.
These lamps are the next most popular lamps after A-type incandescent
lamps. The two most common types are 40-watt, 4-foot lamps and 75-watt,
8-foot lamps. Tubular fluorescent fixtures and lamps are preferred for
ambient lighting in large indoor areas because their low brightness
creates less direct glare than do incandescent bulbs.
Compact fluorescent lamps, or CFLs, are the most significant lighting
advance developed for homes in recent years. They combine the efficiency
of fluorescent lighting with the convenience and popularity of incandescent
fixtures. CFLs can replace incandescents that are roughly three to four
times their wattage, saving up to 75 percent of the initial lighting energy.
Although CFLs cost from 10 to 20 times more than comparable incandescent
bulbs, they last 10 to 15 times as long. This energy savings and superior
longevity make CFLs are one of the best energy efficiency investments
When introduced in the early- to mid-1980s, CFLs were bulky, heavy and
too big for many incandescent fixtures. However, newer models with lighter
electronic ballasts are only slightly larger than the incandescent lamps
CFLs come in integral and modular designs. Integral CFLs have a ballast
and a lamp in a single disposable unit. Modular designs feature a separate
ballast that serves about five lamp replacements before it wears out.
High-intensity discharge, or HID, lamps provide the highest efficacy and
longest service life of any lighting type. They are commonly used for outdoor
lighting and in large indoor arenas.
HID lamps use an electric arc to produce intense light. They also require
ballasts, and they take a few seconds to produce light when first turned on
because the ballast needs time to establish the electric arc.
The three most common types of HID lamps are:
metal halide, and
HID lamps and fixtures can save 75 percent to 90 percent of lighting
energy when they replace incandescent lamps and fixtures. Significant
energy savings are also possible by replacing old mercury vapor lamps
with newer metal halide or high-pressure sodium lamps.
Mercury vapor the oldest type of HID
lighting is used primarily for street lighting. Mercury
vapor lamps provide about 50 lumens per watt. They cast a very
cool blue/green white light. Most indoor mercury vapor lighting
in arenas and gymnasiums has been replaced by metal halide lighting,
which has better color rendering and efficiency.
Metal halide lamps are similar in construction and
appearance to mercury vapor lamps. The addition of metal halide gases
to mercury gas within the lamp results in higher light output, more
lumens per watt and better color rendition than from mercury gas alone.
Metal halide lamps are used to light large indoor areas such as
gymnasiums and sports arenas, and for outdoor areas such as car
lots or anywhere that color rendition is important.
High-pressure sodium lighting is becoming the
most common type of outdoor lighting. It provides 90 to 150 lumens
per watt an efficiency exceeded only by low-pressure sodium
lighting. High-pressure sodium lamps are also reliable and have
long service lives. Their color is a warm white, and their color
rendition ranges from poor to fairly good depending on design and
Low-pressure sodium lamps work somewhat like fluorescent lamps. They
are the most efficient artificial lighting, have the longest service
life and maintain their light output better than any other lamp type.
Low-pressure sodium lighting is used where color is not important
because it renders all colors as tones of yellow or gray. Typical
applications include highway and security lighting.
Energy Efficiency with Lighting
Lighting accounts for 20 percent to 25 percent of all electricity
consumed in the United States. An average household dedicates five
percent to ten percent of its energy budget to lighting, while
commercial establishments consume 20 percent to 30 percent of their
total energy just for lighting.
In a typical residential or commercial lighting installation, 50
percent or more of the energy is wasted by obsolete equipment,
inadequate maintenance or inefficient use.
Saving lighting energy requires either reducing electricity consumed by
the light source or reducing the length of time the light source is on.
This can be accomplished by:
Lowering wattage, which involves replacing lamps or entire fixtures
Reducing the light source's on-time, which means improving lighting
controls and educating users to turn off unneeded lights
Using daylighting, which reduces energy consumption by replacing
electric lights with natural light
Performing simple maintenance, which preserves illumination and
light quality and allows lower initial illumination levels.
"Relamping" means substituting one lamp for another to save
energy. You can decide to make illumination higher or lower when relamping.
But be sure that the new lamp's lumen output fits the tasks performed in
the space and conforms to the fixture's specifications.
When relamping an entire store or office, first test the new lamps in
a small area to ensure adequate illumination, occupant satisfaction
and compatibility of the new lamp and the old fixture.
Matching replacement lamps to existing fixtures and ballasts
can be tricky, especially with older fixtures. Buying new
fixtures made for new lamps produces superior energy savings,
reliability and longevity compared with relamping.
Relamping incandescent fixtures
Much has been learned about fixture design since the energy crises
of the 1970s. Many indoor fixtures trap a significant portion of
light inside the fixture, while many outdoor fixtures tend to
disperse much of their light beyond the intended area, which
causes light pollution.
New incandescent fixtures are designed to push all their light
out into the room. Others use smaller tungsten halogen lamps.
Advances in indoor fixture design include brighter reflectors
and better reflecting geometry.
Many incandescent lamps are mismatched to their tasks. Some have
excessive wattages and therefore create unnecessarily high
illumination. This can be corrected by using lamps with smaller
Some existing incandescent lamps may not be the best type of lamp
for their application. A-type light bulbs can often be replaced with
improved lamp designs, such as reflectors or tungsten halogen lamps.
For energy savings of 60 percent to 75 percent, many incandescent
lamps can be replaced by CFLs.
When used in recessed fixtures, standard A-type lamps and reflector
lamps waste energy because their light gets trapped. To save energy,
you could replace a 150-watt standard reflector with a 75-watt
ellipsoidal reflector. Remember, though, that these lamps are less
efficient at delivering light from shallow fixtures, so use reflectors
or parabolic reflectors for these purposes.
You can also replace standard A-type lamps with CFLs in spaces where
lights are needed for long periods of time. A standard 18-watt CFL
replaces a 75-watt A-type lamp. CFLs are also packaged in the same
glass reflector lamps as incandescent lamps. Use CFLs packaged as
ellipsoidal reflectors in recessed fixtures. Use reflector or parabolic
reflector CFLs for flood and spotlighting. New CFL fixtures have
built-in electronic ballasts and polished metal reflectors.
Relamping fluorescent fixtures
Although fluorescent lamps are generally energy efficient, there
are new, even more efficient lamps that use better electrodes and
coatings than do older fluorescent lamps. They produce about the
same lumen output with substantially lower wattage.
Common 40-watt and 75-watt lamps can be replaced with
energy-saving lamps of 32 or 34 watts and 59 or 60 watts,
respectively. Energy-saving lamps for less-common fluorescent
fixtures are also available.
If you need to replace the ballasts in your fluorescent fixtures,
consider using one of the improved varieties. These fluorescent
ballasts, called improved electromagnetic ballasts and electronic
ballasts, raise the efficiency of the fixture 12 percent to 30
percent. Remember that lamp replacements with 32 and 59 watt
lamps require an electronic ballast replacement.
The new electromagnetic ballasts reduce ballast losses, fixture
temperature and system wattage. Because they operate at cooler
temperatures, they last longer than standard electromagnetic
Electronic ballasts operate at a very high frequency that
eliminates flickering and noise. They are even more efficient
than improved electromagnetic ballasts. Some electronic ballasts
even allow you to operate the fluorescent lamp on a dimmer switch,
which usually is not recommended with most fluorescents.
Improving Lighting Controls
Lighting controls are devices for turning lights on and off
or for dimming them. The simplest type is a standard snap
switch. Other controls are photocells, timers, occupancy
sensors and dimmers.
Snap switches, located in numerous convenient areas, make
it easier for people in large, shared spaces to turn off lights
in unused areas.
Photocells turn lights on and off in response to natural light
levels. Photo-cells switch outdoor lights on at dusk and off at
dawn, for example. Advanced designs gradually raise and lower
fluorescent light levels with changing daylight levels.
Mechanical or electronic time clocks automatically turn on
and off indoor or outdoor lights for security, safety and
tasks such as janitorial work.
Crank timers, which are spring-driven and similar to old oven
timers, limit lights to short durations where the need for light
Occupancy sensors activate lights when a person is in the area
and then turn off the lights after the person has left. They are
popular for areas used infrequently, such as warehouses. They also
offer security advantages over continuous lighting: when lights
suddenly come on, they startle intruders and alert residents and
neighbors to motion in the area.
Dimmers reduce the wattage and output of incandescent and
fluorescent lamps. Dimmers also increase the service life of
incandescent lamps significantly. However, dimming incandescent
lamps reduces their lumen output more than their wattage. This
makes incandescent lamps less efficient as they are dimmed.
Dimming fluorescents requires special dimming ballasts and lamp
holders, but does not reduce their efficiency.
Fluorescent Lamp Disposal
Many fluorescent lights contain small amounts of mercury, and some
compact fluorescent lamps with magnetic ballasts contain small amounts
of short-lived radioactive material. Because of these hazardous materials,
you should not toss burned-out lamps into the trash. Find out if there is
a recycling program for them in your community they are becoming
more common or dispose of them with other household hazardous
wastes such as batteries, solvents, and paints at your community's
designated hazardous waste drop-off point or during a designated day
when you can put such materials with your curbside trash pickup.
Industrial machines are available for institutions to crush fluorescent
bulbs of any length. These machines separate the glass and metal
fragments of the tubes from the toxic chemical components. This
safe and simple process allows for proper disposal of the hazardous
waste, and recycling of the original cardboard containers. This
machine eliminates exposure to phosphor dust, and mercury vapour
from broken light tubes through a built-in carbon absorption system
and particle filter, and can be safely used in educational institutions,
hospitals, residential complexes and office buildings, as well as
manufacturing, commercial and industrial sites.
Daylighting means using daylight for indoor lighting. Modern buildings
designed for daylighting typically use 40 percent to 60 percent less
electricity for lighting needs than do conventional buildings.
Sunlight and daylight are free and readily accessible. However,
using sunlight without causing glare and without overheating a
building can be difficult. Glare can be avoided by using window
sills, walls, louvers, reflective blinds and other devices to
reflect light deep into the building. Be careful to locate windows
and skylights away from the sun's direct rays to avoid overheating.
For example, placing skylights on the north slope of your roof
rather than on the southern exposure may reduce heat transfer.
In addition, look for windows with new selective glazings that
transmit the most visible light while excluding the most solar
Maintenance is vital to lighting efficiency. Light levels decrease
over time because of aging lamps and dirt on fixtures, lamps and
room surfaces. Together, these factors can reduce total illumination
by 50 percent or more, while lights continue drawing full power.
The following basic maintenance suggestions can help prevent this.
Clean fixtures, lamps and lenses every 6 to 24 months by wiping off
the dust. However, never clean an incandescent bulb while it is turned
on. The water's cooling effect will shatter the hot bulb.
Replace lenses if they appear yellow.
Clean or repaint small rooms every year and larger rooms every
2 to 3 years. Dirt collects on surfaces, which reduces the amount
of light they reflect.
Consider group relamping. Common lamps, especially incandescent and
fluorescent lamps, lose 20 percent to 30 percent of their light output
over their service life. Many lighting experts recommend replacing all
the lamps in a lighting system at once. This saves labor, keeps
illumination high and avoids stressing any ballasts with dying lamps.
Optimizing Energy Efficiency and Lighting Quality
When making changes designed to increase the energy efficiency of
lighting, it often pays to redesign the building's entire lighting
system. This can improve lighting quality, make visual tasks easier
and save 50 percent or more on energy costs.
Often, you can reduce light levels without reducing light
quality by following these procedures.
Redesign visual tasks. For example, use a better printer
with darker printing.
Reduce light levels where there are no visual tasks. Provide
the minimum light necessary for safety, security, and aesthetics.
Reduce light levels for visual tasks where those levels are
If you want to cut energy consumption from lighting while enhancing
light quality, consider the following:
Establish ambient illumination at minimum acceptable levels.
Provide task lighting at the optimal level depending on the
difficulty of visual tasks. For example, sewing requires more
light than cooking.
Increase the efficiency of lamps, ballasts and fixtures.
Improve light quality by reducing glare and brightness contrast.
Use daylighting where possible and practical.
Better Light, Less Cost
Using just a few of these ideas will help lower your electricity
costs from lighting and make your home or workplace more comfortable
There are many groups that can provide you with more information on
energy-efficient lighting. The following are just a few of the
organizations that can assist you.
Illuminating Engineering Society of North America
120 Wall Street, 17th Floor
New York, NY 10005
Phone: (212) 248-5000
Fax: (212) 248-5017
IES is a technical society dealing with the art, science,
and practice of illumination.
Windows and Daylighting Group
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Mail Stop 90311, Building 90, Room 3026
1 Cyclotron Road
Berkeley, CA 94720
Phone: (510) 486-6845
Fax: (510) 486-4089
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is among America's
foremost authorities on daylighting.
The National Lighting Bureau (NLB)
8811 Colesville Road, Suite G106
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Phone: (301) 587-9572
Fax: (301) 589-2017
The NLB provides information and publications on energy management
of lighting and offers the publication, "Getting the Most
From Your Lighting Dollar."
Lighting Research Center
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
21 Union Street
Troy, NY 12180-3352
Phone: (518) 687-7100
Fax: (518) 687-7120
The Lighting Research Center provides scientists and educators
with in-depth publications on the topic of lighting, including
"The Lighting Pattern Book for Homes."
Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI)
1739 Snowmass Creek Road
Snowmass, CO 81654
Phone: (970) 927-3851
Fax: (970) 927-3420
RMI is a nonprofit research and educational organization that fosters
the efficient, sustainable use of resources, and publishes a series
of Home Energy Briefs on a variety of topics.
For more information on energy-efficient lighting, daylighting,
and other topics, contact:
Omaha Public Power District Honored as Energy Partner of the Year
Omaha Public Power District has been honored as
Energy Partner of the Year by the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency and was recognized at a national conference in Washington.
The award recognizes the utility's efforts to provide renewable energy through
the construction and operation of Nebraska's largest single renewable energy
generating unit, Elk City Station. The Elk City Station is part of OPPD's
Green Power Program and uses methane gas and other landfill gasses, created
by decomposing garbage, to generate electricity. It is located at the Douglas
County landfill near Elk City, and is owned by OPPD and operated by Waste
Promoting the use of landfill gas as a renewable energy source and a means
of protecting the environment is the purpose of the EPA's Landfill Methane
Outreach Program. EPA evaluated projects from across the country before
naming OPPD as one of four national winners. The winners were selected based
on innovation and creativity, promotion of their projects, and the environmental
and economic benefits achieved.
Since Elk City Station became operational in April 2002, it has generated
almost 15 million kilowatt-hours of electricity. Annually, the plant will
produce enough electricity to meet the energy needs of approximately 2,000
Over the past decade, many energy experts had
suggested America needed to focus on the Western Hemisphere
- the Americas - to meet its burgeoning need for oil and
That was ten years ago. Has the hope of a Western Hemisphere energy pipeline
In 2002, according to the U.S. Department of Energy more than one-quarter
of the nation's crude oil and refined products came from Canada, Mexico
and Venezuela, the first, third and fourth ranked suppliers, respectively.
Taking into account all resources in the Western Hemisphere, nearly
half the imported oil came from this region which stretches from Canada
In February, The New York Times reported that even though Mexico is sitting
on world-class fossil fuel reserves, the nation must import one-quarter
of its gasoline and one-fifth of its natural gas from the United States
because it does not have enough refineries or drilling rigs to meet
its own needs. Mexico's natural gas shortage could grow according to
a February Wall Street Journal news report. The growth in electricity
use will create shortages of at least 100 million cubic feet a day this
In 2002, more than half of America's oil came from foreign sources. The
Energy Information Administration predicts that by 2020, that percentage
will rise to 62 percent.
The recently completed 2000 census revealed
a number of housing trends with energy consumption implications:
houses are getting bigger according to the Census Bureau.
The average size of a new single-family home built in 2000 was 2,200 square
feet, up from 1,500 square feet in 1970. More than half the homes built
today also have at least two and a half bathrooms. Only 15 percent of the
homes had that many baths in 1970.
Even though Americans are having fewer children, more than one-third of
the newly-built homes have four or more bedrooms, up from 24 percent in
In Nebraska, according to the 2000 census, more than 68 percent of the homes
use natural gas for heating, 18 percent use electricity and ten percent
Energy efficiency gains made in furnaces and air conditioners are likely
being offset by the increase in size of newly-built homes.
A survey of 105 American cities found that electric rates
in Nebraska's capital city are among the lowest ten percent in the nation.
This is the 15th consecutive year LES has earned the ranking.
The survey, conducted by accounting firm KPMG for Lincoln Electric System,
compared electric bills of a variety of users based on January 2002 rates.
From a regional perspective, Lincoln's electric system ranked lowest overall
when compared to seven Midwestern cities including Omaha, Kansas City, KS
and MO, Colorado Springs, Wichita, Minneapolis and Des Moines.
According to preliminary figures from the
of Roads, ten percent ethanol blended gas, also called E10,
garnered 38 percent of the market in 2002, the highest level
of market penetration since 1992.
Americans love their ceiling fans. Nearly two-thirds of the
nation's households had at least one ceiling fan. That's the
news in the latest Residential Energy Consumption
In 2001, there were 107 million residential households
in America, and nearly 70 million 65 percent
had ceiling fans. Between 1997 and 2001, the number of
fans increased by 14 percent. According to the survey, there
were 192.8 million ceiling fans in all U.S. households in 2001,
an average of 2.8 ceiling fans per household in those homes
having fans. More information about the findings of the survey
are located at
The Nebraska Energy Quarterly features questions asked
about 5% Dollar and Energy Saving Loans.
Loan forms may be obtained from participating
lenders or the Energy Office, or the agency's web site by
As of June 30, 2003: 20,608 loans for $176.9 million
Questions and Answers...
5% Dollar and Energy Saving Loans
What is the current interest rate for a
Dollar and Energy Saving Loan?
Fees paid to lenders can raise the interest
rate above 5 percent.
The maximum interest rate a lender may
currently charge on an energy loan is 5 percent. Participating
lenders may not exceed this rate and it is solely at the
lender's discretion if Dollar and Energy Saving Loans are
offered at a rate lower than 5 percent.
What is the difference between the stated
interest rate of 5 percent for a Dollar and Energy Saving
Loan and the Annual Percentage Rate also called APR
which the lender discloses to borrowers at the time
the loan papers are signed?
Dollar and Energy Saving Loans may include
indirect loan fees such as an application/documentation
fee of up to $50 or an origination fee of up to 2 percent
of the eligible project cost being financed by the lender
for writing the loan for the maximum allowable term. Indirect
loan fees such as these which are paid to the lender (not to
an independent third party for services such as providing title
insurance, making flood determinations, doing appraisals, etc.)
must be included as part of the finance charges, which must
be included in the APR for the loan. Typically, inclusion of
these charges brings the APR above 5 percent.
How is a lender able to offer Dollar and
Energy Saving Loans at 5 percent?
The Energy Office purchases 50 percent of
an eligible loan made by a participating lender at zero
percent interest. The borrower is paying 5 percent interest
on the entire loan amount. The lender has just half the
investment in the loan and thus makes 10 percent on the
financing company's share. This, plus any of the allowable
indirect loan fees, gives lenders a rate of return commensurate
with market rates for offering, processing and servicing
Dollar and Energy Saving Loans.
Does the Energy Office have a list of
approved contractors for projects financed with a Dollar
and Energy Saving Loan?
The Energy Office does not keep or maintain
a list of contractors qualified to do work financed with
energy loans. Borrowers are allowed to select the contractor
they wish to use for their project. The borrower should check
with the lender to see if there are any requirements covering
selection of a contractor by their borrowers. The Energy Office
does encourage applicants to check the credentials of the
potential contractors and to review any referrals the
contractor may provide to borrowers before a project
The supplements for Form 2, which are
required for Window/Door, Siding and Roofing improvements,
need to be signed by both the applicant and the contractor.
Does this mean a borrower cannot make the improvements without
No, borrowers may do the work. However,
the loan cannot include any funds for a borrower's labor.
For these types of projects, the costs listed on the
application form and the bid should be for materials only.
On the supplemental forms, just write in 'self' in the
sections requiring information about the contractor.
Have there been many renewable energy
projects financed with Dollar and Energy Saving Loans?
Since the loans became available in 1990,
13 improvements involving a renewable energy source have
been financed out of the more than 44,000 processed by the
Energy Office. Three corn and five wood stoves have been
installed in homes and one wood stove has been repaired.
A home-scale wind generator has been repaired. Three wood
heating systems have also been installed in businesses.
The largest renewable energy project financed was the
fuelwood heat plant installed in the Arbor Day Foundation's
Lied Conference Center in Nebraska City.
Over the years, Americans have marveled at a
series of oversized counters that tabulated the world's
population and another that tracked the nation's debt.
Now, the Alliance to Save Energy has a rolling count of the world energy
consumption as measured in barrels of oil at its Energy Counter. According
to the Alliance, each minute the world's population uses the energy equivalent
of 130,000 barrels of oil.
Some forecasters predict that over the next two decades energy consumption
will increase by 60 percent.
Ways for Small Businesses to Grapple with Energy Costs
The U.S. Department of Energy provides assistance
to small businesses who
want to reduce energy use and costs.
From alternative fuel vehicles to
commuting alternatives to equipment efficiency recommendations, the
Energy Department's web site offers visitors a variety of means to
control energy use in any number of ways. They even offer software
to help calculate energy use as well as landscaping techniques that
can affect energy use. Even financing methods and options are identified.
Another resource for businesses is the Alliance to Save Energy's Business
Energy Checkup, which is a guide to saving money and preventing pollution
through energy efficiency. The Checkup is available in several formats and
is located at
ASE Business Information.
Nebraskans who heat their homes with natural
gas have learned how volatile and expensive
this common fuel has become.
The Energy Information Administration projects that heating bills for those
using natural gas may be 30 percent higher this year compared to last
year, possibly increasing by $300 or more. Other forecasters have
predicted natural gas prices to remain volatile over the next several
years. Prices can be affected by supplies, severity of weather
colder than normal winters and hotter than normal summers and
Several years ago, the EIA compiled an overview of residential natural
gas prices and what affects them that should help consumers understand
why prices rise and fall. This brochure is located at
DOE Natural Gas Analysis.
One of the U.S. Department of Energy's primary
resources for consumers and
educators, the Energy and Renewable Energy Network has changed its name to
Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, or EERE, and has also changed its
address on the Internet.
The new site was redesigned and has been modified numerous times since its
debut in 1994. Last year, an estimated 3 million people visited the site.
Each year, the Energy Office chronicles its activities
That snapshot is called the Annual Report and provides a very
detailed look at what the agency did during the year and where state
and federal funds were spent.
A section of the Report also examines energy trends in each
sector and quantifies energy needs in the state.
Ways of Dealing with Heating Bills,
This Winter and Years to Come
Now that the worst of winter's bone chilling blasts are a memory,
some Nebraskans are finding their heating bills will linger for a
much longer time. The Energy Information Administration has estimated
this winter's natural gas bills will be 30 percent higher than last
For some, paying those bills could be a challenge. According to the
U.S. Department of Energy, low-income families typically pay at least
14 percent or more of their annual income for energy expenses,
compared to only 3.5 percent for those with higher incomes.
For those who find themselves with large unpaid heating bills,
there are several types of assistance that may be available:
The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program is available to those
with limited incomes. Grants to help pay for the cost of heating may
be available from the state's Department of Health and Human Services.
To find out more about grants to pay utility bills can be found at
DHHS Energy Assistance.
The Low-Income Weatherization Assistance Program makes improvements in homes
so that less energy is used and utility bills are reduced. These services
cannot help with unpaid utility bills, but could be effective in reducing
the heating bills for next winter
While weatherization services are free, access to services is based on
income. Current income limits are listed at Weatherization
In the most recent year, more than 1,250 homes were weatherized in
Nebraska. The types of improvements typically made on most homes are
listed at Weatherization Improvements.
To locate the weatherization services provider closest to you, click on
Weatherization Local Contacts which will take you to an
interactive map of the state. Simply click on the county where you live
to locate the nearest office where you can apply for weatherization
A conventional shower head uses between 3 and 4 gallons per minute
(3.5 gpm), while a low-flow shower head uses about 2 gallons per minute
To find out how many gallons per minute your shower head
take a plastic gallon ice cream pail or similar plastic one gallon
container and time how many seconds it takes to fill that container.
Now divide 60 by the number of seconds it took to fill your container:
30 seconds = 2 gpm, 20 seconds = 3 gpm, 15 seconds = 4 gpm.
If the average person spends approximately 10 minutes in the shower
each day, the difference in water use becomes obvious:
365 days per year x 10 minutes per day x 3.5 gpm (conventional
shower head) = 12,775 gallons per year
365 days per year x 10 minutes per day x 2 gpm (low-flow
shower head) = 7,300 gallons per year
The low-flow shower head will save approximately 43 percent of the
hot water bill attributed to shower use.
But how much is that?
No matter how you adjust the knobs of the faucet, the end
temperature of the water coming out of the shower head will
require 1 British thermal unit per degree F per pound of water.
The definition of a British thermal unit is the amount of heat
required to raise one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit.
This translates to 8.3 Btus per degree F per gallon of water.
The next question to resolve is what
water temperature do people use when showering?
To solve this question, adjust
the water running from a faucet to a comfortable temperature.
Run the water over your hand and measure that temperature with
a thermometer. Typically, unmixed hot water from the tap measures
110°F, which is quite warm (Water at 120°F will produce a burn in
10 minutes). Mixing cold water lowers the temperature. Water at
102 degrees seems just mildly warm. Most people probably shower
with water at about 105 degrees F. For this calculation, 100
degrees F is used which is fairly conservative.
Secondly, how much must each gallon of
water be raised to reach that temperature?
The temperature of most water that comes into
homes is about 55°F.
Calculating this part of the savings:
Water temperature of 100 minus 55= 45 degrees
With the conventional shower head: 8.3 Btus per gallon per degree F x 45 degrees
temperature difference x 12,775 gallons per year = 4,771,463 Btus per year
With the low-flow head, 8.3 Btus per gallon per degree F x 45 degrees
temperature difference x 7,300 gallons per year = 2,726,550 Btus per year
Converting British thermal units to therms for natural gas and kilowatthours for electricity:
For the conventional shower head, 47.7 therms or 1,398 kilowatthours
For the low-flow shower head, 27.3 therms or 799 kilowatthours.
A Getting Warm
The next calculation involves estimating the efficiency of the water heater.
If a gas water heater is used, the efficiency would be at about 60 percent,
if the water was
heated with electricity, the efficiency would be about 92 percent. This calculation
involves dividing therms by 0.60 and kilowatthours by 0.92 to learn how much energy
would be used:
For the conventional show head: 80 therms or 1,520 kilowatthours
For the low-flow show head: 46 therms or 870 kilowatthours
Thus the low-flow shower head saves 34 therms or 650 kilowatthours a year.
So if the price of natural gas is 70 cents a therm, the low-flow shower head
will save $23.80 per year per person. If the price of electricity is 5 cents
per kWh, the low-flow shower head will save $32.50 per year per person.
So, for a family of four, the cost savings of using a low-flow shower head
is $95.20 per year if natural gas water heating is used, and $130 per year if
electricity is used for water heating.
Note: These calculations were provided by the Energy Office's Engineer,
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.
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.