July 2003

Nebraska Energy Quarterly logo Nebraska Energy Quarterly gasoline pump

A Green Built home in Lincoln, NE
A Green Built home in Lincoln, NE
A New Day in Home Construction...

Governor Johanns Tours the State's First Nebraska Certified Green Built Home...

Governor Mike Johanns launched a new state effort to maximize energy efficiency and the use of recycled content materials in new home construction...

A New Day in Home Construction... ...continued...

Governor Mike Johanns' Remarks



A New Day in Home Construction... ...continued...

A One Stop Green Building Shop

Ways to Save 30 to 60 Percent...

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...

Winter's Effects Linger......

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...

By the Numbers...

Do “Low-flow” Shower Heads Really Save Money?

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 (2 gpm)...

A Look...

What's the Nebraska Energy Office Been Up To?

Each year, the Energy Office chronicles its activities and expenditures. That snapshot is called the Annual Report...

Electric power lines

News Bytes

Omaha Public Power District has been honored as Energy Partner of the Year by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency...

Over the past decade, many energy experts had suggested America needed to focus on the Western Hemisphere...

The recently completed 2000 census revealed a number of housing trends with energy consumption implications...

A survey of 105 American cities found that electric rates in Nebraska's capital city are among the lowest ten percent in the nation...

According to preliminary figures from the state's Department of Roads, ten percent ethanol blended gas, also called E10, garnered 38 percent of the market in 2002...

Americans love their ceiling fans....

Questions and Answers...

5% Dollar and Energy Saving Loans

Thirteen improvements involving a renewable energy source have been financed out of the more than 44,000 processed by the Energy Office...


A New Day in Home Construction...

Governor Johanns Tours the State's First Nebraska Certified Green Built Home
And Recognizes State's First Certified Home Builders

Green Built House, 'The Cazer' in Lincoln, Nebraska
Green Built House, "The Cazer"
in Lincoln, Nebraska

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.

Governor Johanns Tours the New Green Built Home
Governor Johanns Tours the new
Green Built Home

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.

Continued in the next column

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A New Day in Home Construction... ...continued...

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 and students.

Green Built House Living Area
Green Built House Living Area

"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.

Back Yard of Green Built Home in Lincoln
Back Yard of Green Built Home in Lincoln

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.

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A New Day... Governor's remarks

Governor Mike Johanns' Remarks

Nebraska Certified Green Built Home Event

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

We have arrived at the dawn of a new day in home construction in 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.

Continued in the next column

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A New Day... Governor's remarks... continued...

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 homebuyers.

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 homebuyers.

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.

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A New Day in Home Construction... ...continued...

A One Stop Green Building Shop

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

Design/Build Issues

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)

Continued in the next column

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Ways to Save 30 to 60 Percent...

All About Energy Efficient Lighting from Bulbs to Lumens

lighting
Utility bills can be reduced
with efficient lighting

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 impacts.

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.

Illumination

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.

Good lighting provides security
Good lighting provides security

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.

Lighting Uses

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

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.

light blub comparisons
Different types of bulbs are used to provide
the right amount of room illumination

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.

Glare

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 spectrum.

this bulb has a color temperature range around 100 which makes it good for reading
As you can see, this bulb has a color
temperature range around 100 which
makes it good for reading

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:

  1. incandescent,
  2. fluorescent,
  3. high-intensity discharge, and
  4. low-pressure sodium

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 life.

Incandescent

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.

The 'type A' bulb is the most common used today
The "type A" bulb is the most
common used today
Standard incandescent

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.

Tungsten halogen

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

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 downlighting.

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 fixtures.

Fluorescent

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.

Flourescent bulbs are the most efficient
Flourescent bulbs are
the most efficient

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.

Tube fluorescent

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

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 available.

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 they replace.

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

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.

The HID bulb provides industrial-strength light
The HID bulb provides
industrial-strength light

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:

  1. mercury vapor,
  2. metal halide, and
  3. high-pressure sodium.

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 intended use.

Low-Pressure Sodium

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.

Home lighting can be efficient and beautiful
Home lighting can be
efficient and beautiful

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.

Continued in the next column

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Ways to Save 30 to 60 Percent... ...continued...

Replacing Lamps and Fixtures

"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.

Some relamping requires testing
Some relamping
requires testing

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 wattage.

Reflectors are important
Reflectors are important

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.

New ballasts may be needed for flourescent fixtures
New ballasts may be needed for
flourescent fixtures

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 ballasts.

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

Many options are available for lighting control
Many options are available for lighting control

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 is brief.
  • 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

Machines are made to dispose of flourescent tubes safely
Machines are made to
dispose of
flourescent tubes safely

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.

Use the sun to light your space
Use the sun
to light your space

Daylighting

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 heat.

Lighting Maintenance

Clean lights are more efficient
Clean lights are more efficient

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 currently excessive.
Use the correct lighting for the job
Use the correct lighting for the job

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 and efficient.

Source List

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
E-mail: iesna@iesna.org

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
E-mail: info@nlb.org

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:

Ask an Energy Expert

Ask An Energy Expert

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Clearinghouse (EREC)
P.O. Box 3048
Merrifield, VA 22116
(800) DOE-EREC (363-3732)
Fax: (703) 893-0400

Consumer Energy Information

Consumer Energy Information

E-mail: DOE Consumer Energy Information

Energy experts at EREC provide free general and technical information to the public on a wide spectrum of energy efficiency and renewable energy topics.

Related Links

More information on energy-efficient lighting can be found on the U.S. Department of Energy's Consumer Energy Information Web site:

Editor's Note: This information is based on material produced for the U.S. Department of Energy by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, December 1995.

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Tidbits from Nebraska and Beyond...

News Bytes


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.

Elk City Station
Elk City Station

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 Management, Inc.

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 homes.

Continued in the next column

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Tidbits from Nebraska and Beyond...

The Changing Dynamics of Energy Consumption

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 natural gas.

Pipelines
Pipelines

That was ten years ago. Has the hope of a Western Hemisphere energy pipeline materialized?

  • 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 to Argentina.
  • 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 year
  • 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.

Continued in the next column

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Tidbits from Nebraska and Beyond...

Census Reveals Energy Trends

Census 2000 graph
Census 2000 graph

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 1970.

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 use propane.

Energy efficiency gains made in furnaces and air conditioners are likely being offset by the increase in size of newly-built homes.

Continued in the next column

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Tidbits from Nebraska and Beyond...

Lincoln Electric System Rates Rank Lowest

Electric power lines
Electric Power

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.

Continued in the next column

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Ceiling Fans a Hit

Ceiling Fan
Ceiling Fan

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 Survey.

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 EIA Residential Surveys.

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Ben Franklin portrait
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 clicking here.

As of June 30, 2003: 20,608 loans for $176.9 million

Questions and Answers...

5% Dollar and Energy Saving Loans

balance showing paper bills versus coins
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.

Lenders make 10 percent on low interest loans
Lenders make 10 percent
on low interest loans
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.

Continued in the next column

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Questions and Answers... continued
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 is undertaken.

Improvements may include renewable sources
Improvements may include
renewable sources
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 a contractor?

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.

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There's Always Something New on The Web...

Wonder How Much Energy the World Uses?

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.

ASE Energy Counter
ASE Energy Counter

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.

The Energy Counter is located at ASE Counter.

Continued in the next column

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There's Always Something New... continued...

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.

For more information on this topic can be found at the Energy Department web site at EERE Small Business Energy Checkup.

Business Energy Checkup logo

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.

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There's Always Something New... continued...
Residential Natural Gas Prices brochure cover

Natural Gas Prices Explained

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 the economy.

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 EIA DOE Natural Gas Analysis.

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There's Always Something New... continued...

A New Name and Address for EREN

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.

EERE can now be found at Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

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A Look...

What's the Nebraska Energy Office Been Up To?

Where Money Went 2002

Where the Energy Office money went 2002

Each year, the Energy Office chronicles its activities and expenditures. 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.

A copy of the Energy Office's Annual Report for fiscal year 2001-2002 can be found at Nebraska Energy Office Annual Report 2002 [pdf].

To view the report you must have Adobe Acrobat on your computer. To download Acrobat Reader, click here.

The agency web site also contains copies of Annual Reports from previous years between 1996 and 2001.

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Winter's Effects Linger...

Ways of Dealing with Heating Bills, This Winter and Years to Come

Heating costs have risen dramatically
Heating costs
have risen dramatically

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 year.

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:

Citizens with limited incomes can receive assistance
Citizens with limited
incomes can receive
assistance
  • 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.
Home weatherization can lower your utility bills
Home weatherization can
lower your utility bills
  • 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 Income Limits.

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.

Weatherization can assist

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 services.

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By the Numbers...

Do “Low-flow” Shower Heads Really Save Money?

Low Flow Shower Head
Low Flow
Shower Head

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 (2 gpm).

To find out how many gallons per minute your shower head uses, 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?

Calculate your water use
Calculate your water use

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?
Adjustable Low Flow Shower Head
Adjustable Low Flow
Shower Head

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.

Continued in the next column

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By the Numbers... continued...
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.
Low flow shower head installation
Low flow shower heads
are easy to install

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, Bruce Hauschild.

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Ongoing


Mission

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

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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.

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U.S. 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.

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