Energy and the modern home
Regardless of federal or state subsidies, the home product marketplace continues to generate product innovation that increases efficiency and value for the energy-conscious consumer.
A. O. Smith Voltex Hybrid Electric Heat Pump Water Heater
Voltex from A. O. Smith is the latest advancement in electric water heating. The hybrid electric design integrates heat pump technology to produce a product that is twice as efficient as a standard electric water heater. The Voltex pulls heat from the surrounding air and deposits it into the 80-gallon storage tank, allowing the heater to operate in the most efficient mode. With an Energy Factor of 2.3, the Voltex is Energy Star-qualified and tax credit eligible. (hotwater.com)
Benjamin Obdyke Cougar Ridge Vent
Benjamin Obdyke Cougar Ridge Vent, which reduces heat and moisture from the attic, is easy to work with and can be installed by hand or with a staple gun. The classic style ridge vent is made from nylon matrix technology and is almost invisible once it’s installed. It prevents rain, snow and insect infiltration. (benjaminobdyke.com)
Westinghouse Solar Instant Connect
Westinghouse Solar has launched a fully integrated “plug and play” solar panel system that can be installed without racking and panel-to-panel wiring. Instant Connect operates via a set of UL-approved electrical connectors that are integrated directly into the sides of each solar panel, allowing them to automatically plug together when mounted on the roof. The frames of the solar panels — and splices used to connect the solar panels together — provide precision alignment of the electrical connectors, completely eliminating the need to manually wire panels or struggle with custom cabling. According to Westinghouse, the new system will reduce installation costs by 50%. (westinghousesolar.com)
Pella SmartSync technology
Pella SmartSync is an integrated system that allows the user to control shades or blinds with a remote control or by a home or building automation system through such Web-enabled devices as computers and most smartphones. Blinds and shades can be programed to open and close on the homeowner’s schedule. SmartSync can be used to help save energy by programming southern-facing window treatments to stay open during the day in the winter to let in the sun, and closed at night to help keep heat in. Likewise, closing blinds or shades during the day in the summer helps limit interior heat gain, reducing potential cooling costs. (pella.com)
CertainTeed CoolStar Roofing Products
CertainTeed has strengthened 15 of its highly reflective, low-slope CoolStar roofing products with an enhanced ceramic granule surface. The cost-effective, uncoated finish was designed to lower commercial building energy consumption and increase occupant comfort. It has no special installation requirements and maintains a high solar reflectivity, reducing roof temperatures as much as 20%. CoolStar works with a wide range of roof systems, including built-up roofing, SBS, APP and self-adhering modified bitumen. It is flexible and durable, thanks to the layering of high-quality reinforcements, heavy asphalt coating and reflective ceramic granules, according to the company. CoolStar products meet Energy Star and California Title 24 requirements. It also qualifies for LEED points and meets NAHB National Green Building Standards. (certainteed.com)
Energizer Glas Task Light
The Energizer Glas Task Light is an integrated light system, which is cool to the touch and produces less heat than lamps that use incandescent bulbs. The internal D/C to A/C power converter, which is housed within the lamp base, eliminates the bulky power pack usually associated with LED light fixtures. The moveable, clear acrylic shade and advanced optics let the user pinpoint illumination. In addition, the base features an on/off switch with low/high capabilities. The Energizer Task Light is energy efficient, and the LED never needs to be replaced, according to the company. (energizer.com/lighting)
GE Lighting Hybrid Halogen-CFL
GE Lighting’s hybrid halogen-CFL contained in an incandescent-shaped glass bulb combines the energy efficiency and long life of CFLs and the immediate brightness in an energy-saving bulb. GE Energy Smart Soft White and Reveal hybrid halogen-CFL bulbs nestle an instantly bright halogen capsule inside the swirl of a compact fluorescent light bulb. The halogen element comes on instantly and turns off once the CFL comes to full brightness. The bulbs offer eight times the life of incandescent bulbs (8,000 hours versus 1,000 hours). (gelighting.com/2012)
Leviton Universal Dimmers
Leviton’s Universal Dimmers provides homeowners control of current and emerging incandescent, dimmable CFL and dimmable LED bulbs. The dimmers offer a single lighting control that can properly dim next-generation lighting sources while remaining backwards-compatible with current bulbs. The Leviton Universal Dimmers feature an ON/OFF preset function, which preserves the selected dimmer setting, smooth start-up, gentle-touch control, fluid-slide movement for precise dimming and modern aesthetics. The SureSlide model sports clean lines, sculptured controls and a contemporary rocker switch, and the IllumaTech model features a traditional push button switch and slide bar. Both devices address performance issues, including flickering, reduced dimming range and low-level start-up. (leviton.com)
awesome! this is really nice!
I'm using GE halogen, it's cheap and economical compared to other lightbulbs
Chain saws, by the numbers
It’s been up and down three years for chain saw sales, which rose dramatically in the 12 months ended February 2012, according to consumer research from The NPD Group. The category saw a 15.9% gain in dollar volume, bringing it about even with sales levels two years ago. Specialty stores are steadily gaining market share, but everyone trails the warehouse home centers.
Chain saws measuring 22 ins. or longer have been gaining share over the past few years, but 16-in. models continue to represent the largest portion of the market.
Men make up 89% of sales in the high-testosterone chain saw category. Sales appear to be spread evenly among consumers ages 18 to 54, with most sales taking place in the South.
Price slipped slightly as the motivation to shop a particular retailer, but it remains firmly ahead of selection, availability and proximity for chain saw buyers.
Methodology: NPD data are based on monthly tracking of more than 30 home improvement-related categories and 30,000 opt-in consumers.
*2012 data reflects the period March 2011 through Feb. 2012.
**Key: WHC: warehouse home center; MM: mass merchant; DS: department store; SS: specialty store; HS: hardware store
*** More than one answer accepted
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Fiberon sued over mold issues
A group of plaintiffs seeking class action status have filed a lawsuit against decking manufacturer Fiberon over its Portico wood composite line. The lawsuit, filed March 14 in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania by Hagens Berman, a Seattle-based firm, claims that the decking has a defect that results in the growth of mold, mildew and other fungal growth. Furthermore, the complaint claims that Fiberon refused to repair the decks under its 20-year warranty.
Fiberon calls the allegations “completely false” and blames the staining on a lack of routine maintenance by the homeowners who filed the lawsuit.
One of the plaintiffs, David Fleisher of North Wales, Pa., claims his deck developed black spots “soon” after he purchased it. (No time period was given.) Fleisher had the deck cleaned, he said, but the black spots reappeared. He wrote to Fiberon, seeking relief under the warranty, and was told that the spots were most likely mold or mildew, according to the lawsuit.
Instead of repairing the damage or replacing the decking, “the company tells consumers to remove the fungus, mold or mildew with chemical products at their own expense,” the lawsuit claims. “However, consumers say the cleaning method does not prevent the mold from reappearing.”
Edie Kello, director of marketing communications, told Home Channel News that the surface staining was not a manufacturing defect but a failure to comply with the company’s recommendations on the maintenance of outdoor products.
“Outdoor products like decking, siding, concrete and even patio furniture require periodic cleaning to keep them looking good,” Kello said. “The overwhelming majority of our customers comply with periodic cleaning instructions and therefore have no issues whatsoever. It cannot be our responsibility to maintain them once they are installed.”
Kello added that the company “has a long record of honoring its warranties and will continue to do so.”
Hagens Berman is counting on the fact that there are other unhappy Portico deck owners to join its lawsuit. The firm noted that some of Fiberon’s competitors offered similar composite decking products, which also developed mold problems and resulted in class action lawsuits. Trex is still paying claims for a lawsuit it settled over composite decking in 2009. Fiberon no longer sells Portico Decking.
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