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What is Title 24 Compliance?

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What is Title 24?

Title 24 is a collection of energy standards that address the energy efficiency of new (and altered) homes and commercial buildings. Since 1978, California residents are required to meet the energy efficiency standards contained in Title 24, Part 6 of the California Code of Regulations. Because energy efficiency reduces energy costs, increases reliability and availability of electricity, improves building occupant comfort, and reduces impacts to the environment, this has made a big impact on the how lighting and other home fixtures are used in California.

As these standards are important and necessary for California’s energy future, the goal of the California Title 24 energy standards is the reduction of energy use to benefit all. Homeowners save money, California has a more secure/healthy economy, the environment is less negatively impacted, and electrical systems are more stable.

California’s building efficiency standards have saved more than $70 billion in electricity and natural gas costs since 1978.

How does it affect lighting?

All homes and commercial buildings must achieving Title 24 compliance in California. Any new homes, or the remodeled part of new homes that require building permits, are also subject to these standards.

Within these standards includes guidelines for lighting. According to Title 24, at least 50% of the wattage in the kitchen must be consumed by high-efficacy lighting, which usually includes LEDs and fluorescents. To qualify as high-efficacy, light fixtures must be certified by the manufacturer to the California Energy Commission and can’t contain a socket that allows low-efficacy lighting, such as an incandescent. LED fixtures must offer a minimum of 90 on the color-rendering index (CRI), which measures crispness and color accuracy. Also, the color temperature must range between 2700-4000k for indoor use.

High-efficacy lighting is also defined as:

  • 15 watts or less: Minimum of 40 lumens/watt
  • 15 to 40 watts: Minimum of 50 lumens/watt
  • More than 40 watts: Minimum of 60 lumens/watt

As exhibited, it is very important for Californians to follow these standards when proving lighting for their homes and buildings. Moreover, light fixtures with Title 24 compliance are ideal for any home in order to assure energy efficiency. You can find more information about the current Title 24 standards here.

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Internal Driver vs. Instant Start for LED T8 Tube

LED T8 Tubes
LED T8 Tubes

LED T8 tubes, which used to be exclusive to fluorescent technology, are the new standard for commercial and household lighting. These tubes are ideal for replacement, emitting the same amounts of light as fluorescent T8s yet using a fraction of the power and lasting up to three times longer. LED T8 tubes are also mercury-free, dimmable, more efficient, and have high-quality directional light. When replacing your fluorescent tubes with LEDs for your home or workspace, it is important to be aware of these two types of technologies:

Internal Driver
T8 lamps with internal drivers are 1 of 2 ideal energy saving choices when upgrading traditional linear T8 or T12 fluorescent lamps in fixtures. With internal drivers, the ballasts are removed from the fixture and the power is wired direct to the sockets. Since no power is wasted on the ballast, these type of tubes tend to be more efficient. Consumers also experience less long term maintenance costs since you have one less part to maintain in the future by eliminating the ballast. These LED T8 tubes are designed to provide appropriate light levels while utilizing a dedicated internal driver. However, some cons associated with internal drivers include: required electrical modifications, limited dimming, dangerous installation and higher installation costs.

Instant Start
T8 lamps that are instant start compatible require no rewiring of the fixture. Since this step is not necessary, instant start tubes offer a simple way to replace the fluorescent lamp with your new LED lamp. Instant start ballasts ignite lamps by applying a significant voltage across the lamp during starting. However, no cathode heating is applied before or after the lamp ignited. The high voltage applied across the lamps typically ignites them within 50 milliseconds. Emissive material is also released during this since the cathodes are not heated with instant start ballasts. It is the most energy efficient type, but yields the fewest lamp-start cycles, as material is blasted from the surface of the cold electrodes each time the lamp is turned on. Instant-start ballasts are best suited to applications with long duty cycles, where the lamps are not frequently turned on and off.

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How Water Heater Timers Save Money

Water heater timers
Water heater timers

Turning on the hot water is not the same as heating it up. Seems a little trippy, right? Even if the hot water is not in use, your water heater is doing its best to keep that water hot for you – a process that uses up energy and adds unnecessarily to your heating bill. One simple solution for this problem is to install water heater timers. These devices allow you to control when the heater operates and help erase a bit of the bloat on your energy bill (translation: they will save you money).

Cost of Heating Water

Unlike heating for the home, which is only needed during cold months, water heaters run all year. Rain or shine, snow or sun, we all take hot showers year-round. In the average home, this amounts to about 18% of energy usage devoted to heating water – the second largest energy use in the home. The percentage can get higher/lower based on factors such as:

  • Whether or not your state has peak electric pricing hours
  • Number of hot water users in the home
  • Showers or baths
  • How long a shower lasts, etc.

Heaters work daily to keep water at a high temperature and ready for use whether someone needs hot water or not. Putting this in terms of money, if your heater is a 5500 watts tank, heating costs around $50-60 or more a month.

How Timers Work

Water heater timers are programmable devices that control when a water heater is turned off and on. With this device, your water heater will provide hot water only when its scheduled to do so instead of maintaining hot water throughout the day.

To get the best use out of water heaters and timers, employ one or more of these tips:

  • Program the timer to only heat water during peak off-times
  • Use less hot water during peak hours
  • Insulate water heater (make sure to follow instructions for your type of heater: gas or electric)
  • Flush heater every 6 months to prevent buildup of mineral deposits (dirt that sinks to the bottom of the tank, like sand and stones)

Water heater timers are easy to install, will operate with any existing heating system, and provide better control over your hot water energy usage and heating expenses.

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4 Ways to Make Your Home Energy Efficient

Energy Efficient
Image courtesy of Ponsulak / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Jumping on the conservation bandwagon used to be seen as a fad, now people are realizing that energy efficiency has always been a necessity. Lighting, air leaks, and even your showerhead can be silently sapping energy while loudly making its presence known on your energy bill. To begin making, seeing, and feeling changes in your home’s energy usage, consider these 4 ways to make your home energy efficient.

Get rid of incandescent lighting

Incandescent lights bulbs, which have outlived their status as the standard bulb for lighting, are among the biggest energy leeches in the home. Among their many poor features, incandescent lights:

  • Only reflect 10% light — that other 90% is all heat
  • Have a short lifespan, lasting approximately 800 hours
  • Power your home using 60-75 watts of power

Energy resourceful lightbulbs, like CFLs (compact florescent lamps) and LEDs (light-emitting diode) by comparison:

  • Reflect 100% light
  • Have a much longer lifespan from 10,000 hours (for CFLs) to 50,000 hours (for LEDs)
  • Need only 13 watts of power

Savings
This one change, switching out incandescent lightbulbs with environmentally friendly models, will reduce the energy wasted on lighting your home by up to 80%.

Seal electrical outlets

Air leaks are deceptively raising your energy bill. They are sometimes hard to locate, and at times air leaks come from sources that you may not expect — electrical outlets, for one, are a source that can be easily overlooked.

Outlets that are not in use (and even the hole under electrical outlet covers) can easily be sealed using items such as child-proofing caps and foam outlet gaskets.

Savings
Heating and cooling account for 43% of the energy used in a home (with the percentage going up or down based on factors like climate, etc.). A home that is properly insulated can shave off 20% or more from your energy bill.

Weatherstrip doors and windows

If the sun shines through your closed doors, you have an insulation problem. Doors and windows with cracks/gaps allow air, dust, and even bugs to infiltrate your home. To add insult to injury, these openings contribute to the rise in your energy bill. They cause the home to experience inconsistent temperatures, and as a result you go back and forth between lowering and raising the thermostat — while it raises your energy bill. To be more specific: poorly insulated doors account for 11% of the energy lost in your home, while poorly insulate windows account for 10-25%!

Weatherstripping doors and windows is an energy efficient, cost-effective, DIY solution to sealing. There are different types of material used for weatherstripping, mainly dependent on where the stripping will be used, like sliding window, door bottom, etc. The varieties include:

Install low-flow showerheads

Low-flow showerheads are easily one of the most energy conserving products that your home will benefit from immediately. Low-flow showerheads offer the same or better quality of shower while saving energy and money.

Modern showerheads can use 2.5 gallons of water per minute, (GPM) while earth showerheads only use 1.5 GPM.

Savings
Low-flow showerheads use less water and therefore less heat. Installing earth showerheads allow for as much as 30% in water savings along with lowering energy costs.

By sealing air leaks and making the switch to more energy efficient lighting and showerheads, you’ll quickly gain comfort in your home and bank account.

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Saving Made Simple with A Programmable Timer

Programmable Timer
Programmable Timers

There is almost no better feeling than to be in total control of the way your money is spent, agreed? It is very much possible to get this feeling each time the energy bill arrives. I know this sounds crazy. After all, who likes to look at bills? However, installing a programmable timer in your home will give you control over the appliance it is connected to, which will decrease energy consumption, which in turn makes paying energy bills a task that is completed with much less frowning.

Getting the Most Out of an Appliance
Heating and cooling requires the most residential energy, and accounts for more than half of utility costs in the typical household, as much as $680 annually. While weatherproofing the home is a great way to reduce both consumption and costs, it can be costly depending on the scale of the insulation project. An appliance timer is a quick and cost-effective solution to this costly problem.

An appliance timer is plugged into a standard 120 volt, 3-prong wall receptacle. This timer allows up to 2 on/off settings per day. The green and red trippers on the timer indicate when the appliance will be turned on (green), and when it should be off (red). The timer is intended for use over the following appliances:

  • Heaters
  • Air conditioning systems
  • Heavy duty appliances
  • Heavy duty lamps

Saving on Water Heating
The water heater is a great appliance. It supplies heated water to every corner of the home that needs it. What isn’t so wondrous about it is that it runs all day, whether or not you need it to, maintaining the water temperatures. This is how water heating is easily follows heating and cooling as the next largest utility cost in the average home.

A water heater timer allows you to program the water heater on your schedule. It is for use with water heaters that run on 240 volts. The timer provides a maximum of 42 off/on settings per week, or 6 off/on daily operation settings. Installation is simple, and this type of programmable timer is able to work with your current system. To get the most out of this timer, it is best used:

  • When the home is empty
  • During peak hours
  • At night when everyone is asleep.

Taking Complete Control of Lighting
Do you know how many lights there are inside your home? Now think about how often the lights are left on (including over night for security reasons in some cases). With the average home containing approximately 30 light fixtures, lighting is the next highest consumer of energy, and the next place you want to install a programmable timer.

The easiest way to regain control over the way lights are used in your home is to install an occupancy sensor. Not to be confused with a motion sensor, which controls lights solely based on movement in a room, an occupancy sensor detects body heat, turning lights on and off based on the vacancy of a room. The great thing about this type of timer is its ability to operate with LED, compact fluorescent, and incandescent lighting, eliminating the need to get rid of the lights you currently have. It has the ability to cover 20 feet to the side and 40 feet ahead, and provides many options for saving:

  • Lights can be turned off between 30 seconds to 30 minutes after the last person has left a room.
  • “Manual-on” with automatic turn off
  • Ambient light sensor adjusts for light sensitivity

By reducing the power load from one or all of these sources, you will immediately begin to save energy and money without making a major change to your home. Bottom line: installing a programmable timer will help make your life a little easier and your wallet a little heavier.

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A Bathroom Fan Timer Helps Ventilate and Save

Bathroom Fan Timer
Bathroom Fan Timer

The easiest way to save energy (and ultimately money) throughout the home is to regain control of the way the energy is being used. When you ventilate the bathroom, how often do you take into consideration the amount of time that should be spent ventilating, or how much energy is being wasted by over-ventilating? If you’re like most people, these two issues have probably never really crossed your mind. Using a bath fan timer allows you to attack both of these problems head on without giving it another thought.

Ventilation Timing
Experts suggest operating the bathroom fan for no less than 15, and no more than 20 minutes following a shower or bath. In this amount of time, the fan exhausts the moisture out of the room. Having the fan run for more time than this does allow the room to be ventilated, but it also wastes energy, leading to higher energy costs. Operating the exhaust fan for less time than this leads to condensation problems such as molding and rotting. These can inflame respiratory-related health issues including asthma.

Timer Settings and Operation
An exhaust fan timer replaces both the light and fan switches in the bathroom. It has two main settings (ventilation and delay), and the ability to cancel the delay. It uses a microprocessor to watch and control the amount of time the fan is in operation to provide a specific amount of ventilation to the room.

  • Ventilation Setting – The ventilation setting is the amount of minutes each hour that you would like the fan to be in operation.
  • Delay Setting – The delay setting is the amount of time you would like to operate the fan after the light has been turned off (this allows the fan to finish the ventilation cycle after the bathroom is no longer occupied).
  • Cancel Delay – If you don’t want the fan to run after the light has been turned off, simply turn the light back on again within a few seconds. This will tell the timer not to operate the fan after the light has been turned back off.

Once set, the microprocessor recognizes each of the settings and ventilates the bathroom accordingly by subtracting the delay time from the hourly ventilation time. For example, a person enters the bathroom for 5 minutes, with the hourly ventilation set to 20 minutes, and delay for 10 minutes. When unoccupied, the fan will run for the additional 10-minutes delay time, totaling 15 minutes of operation for that hour. The microprocessor will detect this and run the fan for an additional 5 minutes that hour.

If the total time the fan has been run exceeds the 20 minutes that were initially set, the bathroom fan timer will subtract that amount from the 20, and that is how long it will operate in the next hour.

Limiting the amount of energy that is used (in many cases wasted) through bathroom ventilation provides you with more control over both the indoor air quality of the home as well as the amount of energy being consumed. Whenever there is less energy being used in the home, less money spent on energy bills is sure to follow.

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Saving the Easy Way: Acting Green v. Buying Green

Every day in the United States, thousands of gallons of water are wasted through inefficient use. Likewise, thousands of pounds of carbon dioxide emissions result from wasted energy. In both circumstances, this waste leads to a higher national average of utility costs. There are a number of ways to decrease water and energy use (and bills) at the same time. Acting green can get you started on the right track, with a few comforts being sacrificed. Buying green can help you cross the finish line without even realizing you are being more efficient. The infographic below by eLocal helps illustrate a few differences between “acting green” and “buying green.”

Acting Green vs. Buying Green
Source: eLocal.com

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AC Filter Whistles Eliminate Guesswork and Cut Energy Costs

AC Filter Whistles
Air Filter Alert Whistle

At this point in the year, it’s safe to say summer is in full swing, which is great. Summer means vacations, going to the pool, and fun in the sun. Unfortunately for many, it also means higher energy rates, usage, and bills. Keeping the home cool when it gets hot out can become quite a task. The more pressure that is put on the cooling system, the more energy required by it to cool the home, and the higher energy bills will be (as well as your anxiety when you receive it in the mail). Experts suggest replacing air conditioner filters regularly to help maintain system efficiency and decrease cooling costs. If you know the exact moment when it regularly occurs, then that’s great. However, if you need a reminder, consider using AC filter whistles throughout your home.

Also referred to as an air filter alert whistle, an AC filter whistle is made of two plastic pieces that snap together onto the filter. When the filter is clean, air is able to move freely through the material. In time, dust and dirt build up occurs. At this point, more air is being forced through the whistle. As time progresses, the accumulated dirt and dust causes the filter whistle to produce a steady, audible sound. When you hear this sound, it is time to either clean or replace the filter in your central air conditioner or furnace.

One of the great attributes of an air filter alert whistle is that it doesn’t need to be replaced along with the old filter. When you remove the dirty filter, simply clean off and reattach the whistle to the new one. This process can be repeated many times over, allowing you to increase the efficiency of your cooling system. This in turn will allow you to save money on energy costs, and spend more money on vacation, or ice cream, or anything else that will make the heat of this summer a bit more tolerable.

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Best Way to Cool Attic: Solar Powered Attic Ventilation

best way to cool atticIf you have been paying any attention to the weather lately, you may have noticed that there have been record high temperatures in many areas of the country. This does not bode well for poorly ventilated attic spaces, and the living areas below them. Without knowing how to cool attic spaces, outside air comes into the living area of the home, causing higher energy bills. The best way to cool attic spaces is to install solar attic fans. Not only do they efficiently cool the attic, they do so without costing a penny to operate.

Solar powered attic fans use active draft ventilation as opposed to passive draft ventilation used by attic fans that consume residential energy. What this means is that solar fans push hot air through the attic and out the vent, lowering the attic temperature. In contrast, passive draft ventilation pushes hot air through the vents, which creates a draft, but does not actually lower the attic temperature.

When completely under the exposure of the sun, a solar fan moves 850 to 1550 cubic feet per minute. A fan knows just how to cool attic spaces based on the amount of wattage it has. A higher wattage fan will move more air than a lower wattage fan. The wattage necessary for your attic largely depends on the size of it.

To determine the proper amount of attic ventilation you can use an attic fan calculator.

Installing a solar attic fan is also the best way to cool attic spaces because of the savings that will be acquired. A solar fan operates using only the power provided by the sun, completely eliminating the cost of attic ventilation from energy bills.

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Knowledge is Power: Using the Efergy E2 to Track Energy Usage

Efergy E2
Efergy E2

At the end of each month, do you find yourself wondering why the energy bills are as high as they are? Professional energy consultants find that in most homes, residents are using much more energy than they realize. Not actually measuring energy usage can lead to spending 20 percent more on energy than necessary. Knowing how much energy your home uses is a great first step to reducing that amount. The Efergy E2 is a wireless energy monitor that allows you to track energy consumption in your home as it happens.

The Efergy E2 has a clear graphical display which shows electricity usage and what it is costing. In addition, it displays the amount of carbon dioxide that is released as a result of the energy being used. The E2 does all of this in real-time, meaning you can track this usage as it happens. It runs on 3 AAA batteries so there is no need to worry about tripping over wires or plugging it in.

Unlike other energy monitors the Efergy E2 allows you to not only view daily, weekly, and monthly data, but the information it collects can be loaded onto your PC in the form of a report via USB. This wireless energy monitor stores up to 8 months of history, in case you wanted to compare data. Knowing and understanding how energy is consumed around your home can help reduce that usage 5-20 percent, which of course decreases your home’s carbon footprint as well as energy costs.