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Oatey joins Home Improvement Research Institute

BY Ken Clark

The Home Improvement Research Institute (HIRI) added a new member: Cleveland-based plumbing products leader Oatey Co. 

HIRI is a membership based, independent, not-for-profit organization of manufacturers, retailers, wholesalers and allied organizations in the home improvement industry. HIRI ended 2012 with 77 members.

"We look forward to Oatey joining our other leading member organizations in the industry in using research to better run their business," said Fred Miller, managing director of HIRI.

Founded in 1916, Cleveland-based Oatey Co. is a maker of solvent cements, roof flashings, washing machine outlet boxes, air admittance valves, plumbing chemicals, wax bowl rings and hundreds of other plumbing specialty products.

HIRI is managed by Lebhar-Friedman, the parent company of HCN.

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Big boxes, level playing fields

BY HBSDEALER Staff

In the fourth quarter, Home Depot had a field day in its quarterly sales comparisons with rival Lowe’s — a 13.9% gain compared with a 5% decline. However, the field wasn’t level.

Home Depot had an extra week in its 2012 quarter, while Lowe’s was operating with one fewer week. The difference created a nearly $2 billion swing, as the extra week benefited Home Depot to the tune of $1.2 billion, and deflated Lowe’s by about $766 million.

Adjusted to uniform 13-week periods, Home Depot still won the day. But as the numbers show, at least the game was respectable.

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In defense of big houses

BY HBSDEALER Staff

A recent report for the U.S. Energy Information Administration found that big is not as bad for the electrical grid as you might think — maybe even not bad at all, particularly when modern building technologies are at work.

Analysis from EIA’s most recent "Residential Energy Consumption Survey" (RECS) shows that U.S. homes built since 2000 consume only 2% more energy on average than homes built prior to 2000, despite being on average 30% larger.

Homes built in the 2000s accounted for about 14% of all occupied housing units in 2009. These new homes consumed 21% less energy for space heating on average than older homes (see graph), which is mainly because of increased efficiency in the form of heating equipment and better building shells built to more demanding energy codes. Geography has played a role too. About 53% of newer homes are in the more temperate South, compared with only 35% of older homes.

The increase in energy for air conditioning also reflects this population migration, as well as higher use of central air conditioning and increased square footage. Similar to space heating, these gains were likely moderated by increases in efficiency of cooling equipment and improved building shells, but air conditioning was not the only end use that was higher in newer homes. RECS data show that newer homes were more likely than older homes to have dishwashers, clothes washers, clothes dryers, and two or more refrigerators. Newer homes, with their larger square footage, have more computers; TVs; and TV peripherals, such as digital video recorders (DVRs) and video game systems. In total, newer homes consumed about 18% more energy on average in 2009 for appliances, electronics and lighting than older homes.

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