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Energy Efficiency, New Designs and Technology


Solar home runs on $2 a month 

Friday, January 1, 2016

Many people have the misconception that sustainable technologies such as solar and wind power are expensive. However, they can save a great deal of money. For instance, Lauren Martin of House Beautiful features a house in the United Kingdom that runs on solar power, and costs about two dollars a month to power.

The West Kirby house, designed by Colin Usher of John McCall Architects, is extremely well-insulated with a concrete structure and an air source heat pump. According to the John McCall site, this award-winning home features a heat pump, which is "carefully orientated to make the most of the solar gains and to maximize the electricity generating roof panels." The air-to-water heat pump, or ASHP, acts as a refrigerator in reverse, taking heat out of the air, using it to warm the house's water, which in turn helps to warm the whole house. 

The windows are triple-glazed to help reduce heat transfer. The house also boasts solar panels mounted on the roof, which captures energy for the sun to help keep the heating bills so incredibly low. The house also features a lot of windows, which let in natural light. The open design and spacious rooms improve air circulation and quality. The house is reportedly worth about $358,000, and Usher says it was not expensive to build either. 

Innovations like these are exciting to see, because as more of these tricks and technologies are incorporated the more savings homeowners will see. Energy efficiency helps keep homeowners comfortable and saving money all year long. We at Mercury Excelum help make New England homes more energy-efficient through replacement windows, vinyl siding and our other high-quality products. Contact us for more information.

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This greenhouse-inspired design reduces heating costs 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A two-story home in Sapporo, Japan has been built with an interesting greenhouse terrace surrounding the home. Kimberly Mok of Treehugger explains the greenhouse-inspired design helps to retain heat and reduce energy costs, creating a comfortable and energy-efficient living space for its owners. 

The 830-square foot house is sheathed in transparent polycarbonate sheeting and plywood paneling. These materials help keep the house insulated in every season. The solar orientation of the terrace helps to keep it comfortably warm all winter long, acting as a sun room at the heart of the house which spreads heat throughout. The house uses the same general idea as a greenhouse for plants, but applies it to the home for a cutting-edge design. 

While half of the house is insulated, the other half is opened up, and the whole house is connected to allow for heat distribution. The idea for this unique design is a combination of modern insulation techniques and more conventional passive solar design. Passive solar designs collect solar heat for the winter, and reject it during the summer. The homeowners can open or close their living spaces from the greenhouse to suit the change of season. Using the greenhouse effect to rely on solar energy for heat makes this an energy efficient home all year long.

The minimalist design might not be for everyone, but this is a great example of the different creative ways that homes can become more efficient to maximize comfort and energy savings. This innovative house is designed by Yoshichika Takagi & Associates. 

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Upcoming technologies that will make homes more energy efficient 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Paul Lester of Energy.gov reports that thanks to all of our devices, our homes use 37 percent more energy than they did in 1980. However, there are many new technological advances on the horizon. This new tech could help users save a great deal of money on their energy bills, and it will be available soon.

Connected houses
Houses will soon be more connected, and automatically sharing important data. Thanks to the Energy Department's Building Technologies Office, heating and cooling units, lighting and other systems will soon have wireless sensors with automated controls, allowing owners to use our energy more efficiently. Systems will be able to measure the number of people in a room and change the temperature accordingly, so they no longer waste heat in empty rooms.

Smart windows
Thanks to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Pella Windows, insulated windows will come equipped with sensors to automatically adjust their shading by the time of day and the amount of sunlight outside. These windows will keep their owners comfortable with the right amount of sunlight all day long. 

Brighter lights
LED lights have been a huge improvement over old light bulbs, by using 85 percent less energy. Surprisingly, LED bulb efficiency is expected to double over the next few years thanks to breakthrough developments from the Building Technologies Office's Solid State Lighting Program. 

Cooler roofs
Cool roofs are coated with materials that reflect sunlight and absorb less heat than typical roofs. The Berkeley National Laboratory and PPG Industries are developing improved cool roofs, with new fluorescent pigments that will reflect nearly four times the amount of sunlight. 

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