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A Bulb’s Life: Frequency Matters

The lifespan of a bulb is typically prominently displayed on the bulb’s packaging to help consumers weigh its effectiveness. Be aware though that the lifespan of some bulbs might not actually measure up to the number on the box.

 

 

CFL Lifespan Issues

The problem associated with CFL bulb lifespans is mainly due to differences in the way the bulbs are tested – in 3 hour increments – versus how they are used in the real world. Turning a CFL bulb on and off in shorter increments can significantly reduce its lifespan.

That said, CFL bulbs are much more efficient than incandescent bulbs and can significantly reduce your power bill.

For more information on how to get the most out of CFL bulbs, read the Department of Energy’s article on “When to turn off your lights.”

Usage Frequency Matters

The average light bulb in a home gets used less than 2 hours per day.  However, there are big differences between the bulbs that get the most use versus the bulbs that get very little use, like the lights in your closet.

Bulbs on the upper end of the use range, like the lights in your kitchen, may be used an average of 4 hours per day.  At 4 hours per day, a bulb with a 25,000 hour lifespan will not need to be changed for more than 17 years.  For bulbs that get very little use, such as those in your closet, installing a bulb with a 25,000 hour lifespan means that you will likely never have to change the bulb again.

For a complete breakdown of bulbs and their efficiency, read our in-depth post “Lightbulb Efficiency Comparison Chart“.

 

 

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Lightbulb Efficiency Comparison Chart

Buying a light bulb for your home or business used to be a simple task. Most bulbs were incandescent, so all you had to do was find the desired wattage and then buy it. Today there are so many light bulb options for your home or your business that deciding which bulb to purchase is no longer straightforward.

The chart below compares some of the major characteristics of common bulb types.

Lightbulb efficiency comparison chart

Lightbulb Efficiency Comparison Chart

Lumens per Watt: Where Efficiency Lives in Bulbs

Lumens per Watt shows how efficient a bulb is at converting power into light. At 10 lumens per watt, a 100 watt bulb is not very efficient. The energy lost is converted into heat, which is why incandescent bulbs are much hotter to the touch than CFL or LED bulbs.

The efficiency of CFL bulbs in converting energy into light falls between that of incandescent and LED bulbs. As LED bulbs continue to improve, CFL bulbs will likely be phased out.

For homeowners, LED bulbs are the most efficient bulbs at converting energy into light. LEDs aren’t always a ‘slam dunk’ though – for commercial buildings, 4’ 0” t-8 fluorescent tubes are more efficient than LED bulbs.

LEDs For the Win

The last three rows in the chart show the important differences between bulbs. Incandescent, florescent, and CFL bulbs don’t have the same lifespan as LED bulbs, so you’ll have to purchase additional bulbs as the old ones burn out. Those extra bulbs cost money. To get 25,000 hours of use from 60-watt incandescent bulbs, you’ll have to spend $12.50 in bulbs, more than the cost of one LED.

The Cost to Operate number provides the best approximation of the total value of the bulb. LED bulbs win this comparison hands-down. Despite the high up-front costs of LED bulbs, their low cost of operation and long lifespan mean that they are a much better investment than incandescent, fluorescent, or halogen bulbs.

For more information on selecting an LED bulb, view this infographic developed by ENERGY STAR.

DEFINITIONS:

Lumens: measures the “brightness”, or the amount of light produced by the bulb

Watts: the amount of power consumed by the bulb

Lifespan: measures the typical life of the bulb.

Price per bulb: an approximation based on a recent market survey, and we averaged the prices to round numbers to make the comparisons easier.

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EPAD in Kentucky and GC-PACE

EPAD Commercial Energy Efficiency Financing Program Approved by Kentucky Legislature

Among the legislative achievements of last night’s legislative session in Frankfort was Senate and House approval of HB100, a bill to authorize PACE, also called EPAD (Energy Project Assessment Districts) in Kentucky.

Residents of Greater Cincinnati may be familiar with the work done by the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance in bringing PACE to Southwest Ohio—the first PACE district was set up in the City of Cincinnati last year. GC-PACE offers commercial property owners (businesses, nonprofits, governments, etc.) the opportunity to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements through energy savings. The model offers a unique extended-term financing solution to support businesses in making critical energy-related improvements to their buildings.

After a nearly two-year legislative effort, led by the Energy Alliance and the Kentucky EPAD Council (including representatives from Harshaw Trane, Ross Sinclair & Associates, and the law firm Frost Brown Todd), the Kentucky legislature has authorized PACE as a new tool for local governments throughout Kentucky. The legislation was championed by Representative James Kay of Woodford Co.

A Well-Supported Bill

The bill received strong support from both parties and was endorsed by the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, the Kentucky League of Cities, the Kentucky Association of Counties, the Kentucky Manufacturers Association, the Kentucky Association of Building Contractors, the Kentucky AIA Chapter, Greater Louisville Inc., and the cities of Covington and Florence, among others.

To underscore this accomplishment, though hundreds of bills are introduced in the legislature each year, only a small handful are adopted. Those were the odds we were working with going in to this effort, and we have come out with a victory on a topic that had overwhelming support from democrats and republicans in both the Kentucky House and Senate.

The Energy Alliance expects the bill to be signed by the Governor in the coming weeks. After that, the Energy Alliance will continue our work to bring this innovative financing tool to building owners throughout the state.

For more information on GC-PACE, go to www.GC-PACE.org. A short video on the PACE/EPAD model can be seen here.

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Energy Alliance and Port Authority Partnership, GC-PACE, Wins Green Business Award

The Cincinnati Business Courier’s 2015 Green Business Awards recently recognized our partnership with the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority as a Nonprofit Winner for their Product/Service category. Our partnership with the Port Authority led to the successful adoption of the innovative PACE financing (GC-PACE) for the City of Cincinnati and it’s implementation on a property owned by the Port Authority in Roselawn.

Previously, we won a Green Business Award in 2011 for our Energy Efficiency Outreach Campaign to over 13,000 homes in Hamilton, Boone, Campbell, and Kenton Counties. We were also a finalist in 2012 for our Home Energy Assessment program.

Other Green Business Award winners for 2015 include: the Greater Cincinnati Green Business Council, Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati, Cincinnati Financial Corp., Cincinnati Nature Center, Orcutt & Co. CPAs, University of Cincinnati, Flying Pig Marathon, Melink Corp., U.S.Bank, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, Rumpke Waste & Recycling, Kiesland Development Services, and Simply Fresh Dry Cleaners.

For more information about our GC-PACE program: GC-PACE.org

 

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Energy Alliance Brings Together Dialogue on Residential Energy Efficiency

New and Better Ways of Bringing Efficiency to Greater Cincinnati

Energy efficiency can be difficult to promote because the wide range of its benefits tend to resonate differently from one homeowner to the next. We have recently partnered with Empower, a new residential energy efficiency provider that is starting an innovative model to work with local communities in increasing the number of home energy upgrades completed.

Empower and the Energy Alliance co-hosted a forum last week to discuss new ways of bringing residential energy efficiency to Cincinnati homeowners. More than a dozen local contractors, many from the Efficiency First Home Performance Network, were on hand to share insight into their process and explore new models for delivering high value improvements to local residents.

Coming This Summer

In partnership with the Energy Alliance and the City of Cincinnati, Empower plans to begin its rollout this summer. The team will build on the City’s aggregation model to take energy efficiency opportunities to the next level. Empower will draw on cutting edge data analysis and an intimate understanding of customer behavior to create a package tailored to the needs of individual homeowners. With cost effective financing, these new projects will allow energy savings to pay for the cost of each project.

Stay tuned for more information on the Cincinnati roll out and how you can bring Empower to your community.

 

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Dan Gray, Operations Director for Empower Gas and Electric, presents for local contractors and Energy Alliance staff.

 

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Adventures in Energy Efficiency: Daniel Beard Home Attic Upgrade

The owner of the beautiful 1821 Daniel Beard (“the Father of Scouting”) home in Covington, KY, has engaged our Home Performance Contracting Service to carry out a full workscope of energy efficiency improvements. Our Building Analyst, Dane Ervick, is busy overseeing and coordinating this multi-faceted project.

Last week, we were in the attic with our partners Insulating Sales and National Heating and Air working to bring it into conditioned space so that a new air handler could be installed. When work began, the attic was barely insulated:

Insulating Sales created a framed and insulated room so that the heating system won’t be fighting near-outdoor temperatures as it supplies heat to the rest of the home.

National Heating and Air insulated and sealed the new duct work and connected the air handler to an existing closed loop geothermal heating and cooling system.

The once uninsulated attic now features closed cell spray foam on the roof deck, fiberglass batts and rigid board insulation on the knee walls, and R-49 blown in cellulose on the attic plane behind the knee walls. These improvements will keep heat from escaping the home and make it easier for the air handler to operate. As always, we are installing all materials in compliance with manufacturer’s specifications and national fire codes.

Next up: Under the home in the crawl space!

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Energy Alliance In the News: Senator Rob Portman Energy Bill

Our CEO, Andy Holzhauser, was asked to comment on the interesting history of and possible benefits from Ohio Senator Rob Portman’s currently stalled energy efficiency bill (the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2014).

The colorful account of the bill’s history can be read in the Cincinnati.com article: www.cincinnati.com/story/news/politics/2014/12/27/portman-energy-bill/20942371/

 

 

Andy Holzhauser featured in news media commenting on the stalled Senator Rob Portman energy bill.

 

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New Energy Alliance Program: Solarize Cincinnati

We’ve launched a new program: Solarize Cincinnati.

Focusing on solar power is yet another way we can create significant local economic development for Greater Cincinnati. We have taken our mission of making energy efficiency easier and more affordable and applied it to solar PV installation.

By bringing residents together to purchase solar panels, we are able to tap into the power of bulk purchasing to drive down costs for homeowners. When combined with the 30% federal residential energy tax credit, installing solar becomes even more affordable.

And we’ve partnered with local installers Seco Electric and Dovetail Solar and Wind to ensure quality installation and service.

For more information, visit our page or give us a call: 513-621-4232 ext. 128.

 

Solarize Cincinnati Webpages and Flyer

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Saving Money with Solar

Purchasing solar panels for your home is a valuable investment. We are all familiar with the costs, but what about the benefits? Here are three financial benefits to consider as you determine if a solar investment is right for you.

Generate  your own energy

1. Generate your own energy, save money on your energy bill

The energy that you generate from solar panels means you will purchase less energy from your local utility. Each kilowatt hour generated is money that you save. A 6 kilowatt solar array will generate around 7,674 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year. At a standard cost of electricity (around 11 cents), that’s around $844 per year in money saved. And with energy costs continuing to rise, the value of your savings will increase over time.

30% Federal Tax Credit

2. 30% Federal Tax Credit

The federal government provides tax incentives for the purchase of solar and other renewable energy assets. Upon installation of a solar array on your home, you will be eligible for the federal Residential Energy Tax Credit which is equal to 30% of the cost of your system. If you install a 6 kilowatt system through Solarize Cincinnati (estimated price $23,340), then you are eligible for a tax credit of $7,002.

Ohio SREC Incentive

3. SRECs, a state based credit system

Most states provide some additional credit for solar investments. In Ohio, public utilities must purchase a small percentage of solar for each kW of energy they sell to customers. Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) represent one mega-watt hour of electricity (1,000 kWh). For each mega-watt hour (MWh) that your system creates, you can sell the renewable attribute of the energy on the market. Due to changes adopted by Ohio earlier this year, the value of SRECs has declined. However, the current market will pay around $10 per SREC. As in the above example, a 6 kilowatt system could generate 7 SRECs or $70 per year.

How much do Solar Panels REALLY cost?

Here is the example above in more detail:

  • We purchase a 6 kilowatt solar PV system ($23,340)
  • Of that cost, we spend less on energy because we created our own ($844 in the first year or $19,481 over 20 years)
  • Plus, we received the federal Residential Energy Tax Credit ($7,002)
  • Finally, we sold our solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) ($70 per year or $1,400 over the projected life of the system)

So, in the above example, the system we purchased generates $19,481 in utility bill savings, $7,002 from federal tax credits, and $1,400 from SRECs. That’s $27,883 in benefits which puts $4,543 back into your pocket.

Here are some more examples of how much you might save by installing Solar:

 

1. Contractor pricing may vary, but will not exceed prices listed above. Complex installations may require additional charges.
2. Based on an $0.11 per kWh base rate with a 2.2% annual escalation in the cost of electricity (US EIA projection).
3. Based on a SREC value of $10 per mWh over 20 years.

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Solarize Cincinnati Assessment

Solarize Cincinnati takes the guesswork out of purchasing solar panels by providing you with all the information you need to make a decision. Here are some of the steps we take to help you determine if solar panels are a good fit for your home.

Online Feasibility Assessment

Step 1: Solar Feasibility Assessment

Once you complete our sign-up form, one of our solar installers will begin a solar feasibility assessment. Our solar installers are certified professionals specializing in residential solar who are trained to design a system that is right for you.

The solar installer will begin by reviewing a solar map of your home (like the one on Google Maps) to obtain basic information about the location of your home, the orientation of your roof (a south facing roof will attract the most solar energy), and the existence of any obstructions (like large trees) that may diminish your roof’s solar potential. This information provides a basic understanding of the solar feasibility for your home.

If the solar installer identifies major challenges, they will let you know when they reach out to discuss next steps. They’ll want to know the age and construction of your roof and to get a general sense of your electric usage (usually available on your monthly energy bill).

On Site Solar Assessment

Step 2: On-Site Solar Assessment

Once the feasibility assessment is complete, your solar installer will contact you to schedule a free, on-site solar assessment.

During the assessment, the solar installer will examine your roof and calculate the best location to install solar panels on your home. Among the key items that your solar assessment will review are:

  • Age and condition of your roof
  • Degree of tilt and orientation of your roof
  • Presence of any obstacles to sunlight on your property
  • Ideal location to install solar panels on the exterior of your home
  • Location of appropriate interior connection points

In addition to these items, your solar installer will conduct a solar shading analysis to document the solar resource potential.

With this information, your solar installer will be able to determine the projected solar energy generation potential of a custom designed system for your home.

Solar Assessment Proposal

Step 3: Proposal

After the solar assessment is complete, you will be provided with an installation proposal tailored to your home. The solar assessment does not obligate you to act, but simply provides a recommendation for how solar can help meet your home’s energy needs.

In addition to system design information, each proposal will include information on available financial incentives and expected power production. Finally, your report will have a price for a solar PV system sized to fit your home. If a roof-mounted solar PV array is not possible, the installer will explain other potential options for solar energy production on your site.

If you decide that solar is right for you, the solar installer will work with you to schedule a time to install your solar panels so you can begin producing your own energy.

 

 

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