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Urban Rustic: Choosing Windows

Editor’s note: This post is one of a series by Eric Whetzel about the design and construction of his house in Palatine, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. A list of Eric’s previous posts appears below. For more details, see Eric’s blog, Kimchi & Kraut. When my wife’s cousin found out we were trying to build a high-performance new home (a mix of Passive House and Pretty Good House), he suggested we incorporate his company’s self-tinting glass. Used largely in commercial applications since its introduction, the product (Suntuitive) is beginning to make inroads into the residential market as the cost comes…

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Help for an Ailing Water Heater

Pat Beurskens has been happy with his heat-pump water heater, but he fears the time is coming when it won’t be able to keep up with demand. He foresees the day when his young daughter will be using more hot water, and Beurskens is finishing out the basement of his Seattle home to be used as a rental. That, too, will increase hot water use. Against this backdrop, Beurskens’s GE Geospring, a model that has been discontinued, is showing signs of fatigue. “Lately,” he writes in a post at the Q&A forum, “the water heater has been maxing out after…

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The UK’s Biomass Problem

The McNeil Generating Station in Burlington, Vermont, consumes about 76 tons of wood chips per hour when running at full tilt. The 50-megawatt plant, built for $67 million in 1984, can also run on natural gas or oil. (Photo: Burlington Electric Department / NREL) I’m freshly off a two-week stint in the United Kingdom, a visit that came just as the climate scientists convened by the United Nations released their no-holds-barred report showing what we all need to do to forestall the worst impacts of climate change. In many ways, the UK is making impressive progress toward meeting this challenge:…

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Solar Installer Will Train Its Own Electricians

New England-based ReVision Energy can't find as many licensed electricians as it would like. The solution? Open training centers of its own. (Photo: ReVision Energy) A New England solar installer with operations in three states faced a challenging shortage of licensed electricians in the region’s labor pool. So the solar contractor is opening its own training centers for electricians. ReVision Energy, with 225 employees and more than 7,000 solar installations to its credit, is now training 34 students in Maine and another 20 in Massachusetts, Mainebiz reported. The company has opened the Revision Energy Technical Center in Brentwood, New Hampshire,…

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An Energy Report from the 2018 Midterms

Americans in at least seven states voted on energy-related ballot initiatives during the 2018 midterm elections. These measures targeted everything from raising targets for the share of electricity drawn from renewable energy to charging a tax on carbon emissions. Campaigns to defeat these initiatives related to energy and climate policy, financed heavily by big oil and gas companies and utilities, substantially outspent proponents. They prevailed in nearly every case. At the same time, however, voters elected many politicians who had vowed to take action to reduce the country’s carbon footprint. Those leaders could potentially bring on the same kinds of…

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Building Better for Less

A Habitat for Humanity chapter in Kalamazoo, Michigan, is among six “grand award” winners in a Department of Energy Zero Energy Ready Home competition this year, proving that high performance doesn’t necessarily come with a high price tag. The annual contest recognizes innovative residential building in five categories, according to the DOE. Habitat Kalamazoo picked up the award for its entry in the Affordable Non-Profit category. Thrive Home Builders of Denver was the top winner in the Affordable For Profit category. In all, 23 builders from around the country earned innovation awards. The grand winners were announced in San Diego…

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