Energy Star expert Lee Kuhl will be among the many building industry representatives answering questions at the annual Clark County Parade of Homes, which kicks off Friday at Felida’s Moongate subdivision.
Kuhl is the program coordinator for Energy Star home construction along the Interstate 5 corridor in Washington and Oregon. Along with DuWayne Dunham, an energy adviser from Clark Public Utilities, Kuhl will be handing out information and available for questions both weekends of the parade, which runs through Aug. 7.
Three of the seven single-family homes featured in the parade are Energy Star certified. That means the homes are at least 15 percent more energy efficient than the standard building code requires.
“The problem in showing an Energy Star home is that much of what people should see is hidden behind the walls or not so obvious to the casual observer,” Kuhl said. “Energy-efficient lighting may not look much different than standard lighting, the same thing with windows and heating equipment.”
Neither will visitors see much when it comes to Energy Star attic insulation, which must be installed using exact procedures and materials to achieve the higher rating.
Federal program, local effort
Energy Star is a program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and aims to help Americans save money and protect the environment through energy-efficient products and programs.
Northwest Energy Star Homes is a regional initiative, funded by Northwest utilities including Clark Public Utilities, as well as Energy Trust of Oregon and the Bonneville Power Administration. Its mission is to accelerate the sustained market adoption of energy-efficient products, technologies and practices in the region.
Kuhl estimated that about 3,000 homes built each year in the four-state area of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana are Energy Star certified. That represents about 15 percent of all single-family home construction.
“Homebuilders in Clark County are building 30 percent to 34 percent of new homes to the Energy Star requirement,” he said. “There are several builders who are passionate about the program. Among them are Aho Construction, New Tradition Homes and Manor Custom Homes.” Manor is participating in the 2011 home parade.
Kuhl also will promote a $25,000 prize, which will be awarded to someone in the Northwest who takes the time to tour an Energy Star home and respond to an online questionnaire at http://www.northwestenergystar.com. The more Energy Star homes an entrant visits, the better the chances are of winning.
For more information on Northwest Energy Star homes, call 800-539-9362, or email info//www.northwestenergystar.com.
The Northwest Natural Parade of Homes is hosted by the Building Industry Association of Clark County. This year the event will be closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Tickets are $10, free for children 12 and younger.
Energy facts: The Pacific Northwest population is expected to grow by 4 million people in the next 20 years. Demand for electricity in the region will grow by an estimated 1.4 percent per year thanks to bigger TVs, more air conditioning and plug-in electric cars. Energy savings will come from more efficient buildings, better home weatherization, more energy-efficient lighting and appliances and improved heating systems. Planning agencies forecast the region can save 5,900 average megawatts of energy during the next 20 years — enough to serve about 4.3 million Northwest households for a year. Between 1980 and 2008, the region saved nearly 4,000 average megawatts.
The Energy Adviser is written by members of the energy counselor team of Clark Public Utilities, who provide conservation and energy use information to utility customers. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Energy Adviser, c/o Clark Public Utilities, P.O. Box 8900, Vancouver, WA. 98668. A panel of local energy efficiency and energy product specialists will review your questions. Previous topics are available at http://www.clarkpublicutilities.com.