Archive for the ‘Energy News’ Category

Does Purchasing a Supplemental High-Efficiency Mini-Split Heat Pump Make Sense?

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016
Mini split air conditioning fan above interior house door near stairway, photo.

Ductless mini-split heat pumps were installed in the main living area of 10 Central Florida homes.

In Florida, space heating and space cooling is customarily accomplished by central systems with unavoidable air distribution losses as ducts – often leaky – pass through unconditioned space. High-efficiency 1-ton, supplemental, inverter-driven ductless mini-split heat pumps with a 25.5 seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER), and 12 heating seasonal performance factor (HSPF), were installed in the main living area of 10 central Florida homes with the goal of reducing space heating and cooling energy by decreasing runtime of these less efficient systems. The SEER rating is 1.8 times as efficient as the new federal minimum level for conventional central systems and even more efficient than the older systems in these homes

Installed as a supplement, the mini-split installations showed median energy savings of 33% (6.7 kWh/day) for space cooling and 59% (6.5 kWh/day) for heating in the existing homes where they were added. An added consumer benefit is a redundant heating and cooling system, creating tolerable interior conditions during main system failures.

Two additional homes received high-efficiency, ductless heat pumps as complete central system replacements – a single ducted unit and a multi-split design. These homes exhibited cooling energy use savings of 37% (7.8 kWh/day) and 29% (3.5 kWh/day), respectively. While significant cooling savings were measured, the multi-split installation suffered comfort issues. The mini-split replacement, however, showed superior interior moisture control and maintained the space 1oF lower on average.

Adobe Acrobat PDF icon

Evaluation of Mini-Split Heat Pumps as Supplemental and Full System Retrofits in a Hot Humid Climate*

 

*This paper was presented at the 2016 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings in Pacific Grove, CA on August 22 -26, 2016.

Can Smart Thermostats Save Energy?

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016
NEST thermostat reading 76 degrees installed on wall

“Smart” thermostats were installed in over 30 research homes.

Thermostats are the central switch that controls operation of heating and cooling systems—commonly the largest energy end use in homes. That energy setup/setback has potential for energy savings has been demonstrated repeatedly in well-controlled evaluations. Thus understanding how the occupants and thermostat interact is key to controlling energy use. Programmable thermostats have often been bypassed by occupants. Newer “smart” thermostats get around these problems by self-programming depending on heuristic or machine learning evaluation of user control habits as well as sensed occupancy. These modern devices use a combination of data on occupancy, weather, and thermostat-setting preference to help consumers with automated setback/setup schedules.

Researchers at FSEC installed smart thermostats, primarily the Nest Learning Thermostat, in more than 30 research homes. A full year of sub-metered hourly temperature and heating and cooling system operation data were available prior to the installation of the smart thermostat allowing detailed evaluation of temperature-related changes. Overall measured heating and cooling energy savings averaged 9.5% with some significant variation among homeowners.

Adobe Acrobat PDF icon

Evaluation of the Space Heating and Cooling Energy Savings of Smart Thermostats in a Hot-Humid Climate using Long-term Data*

 

*This paper was presented at the 2016 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings in Pacific Grove, CA on August 22 -26, 2016.

EV Transportation and Technology Summit 2016

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

What are the latest developments in electric vehicle technology, policy and planning? Find out at the EV Transportation and Technology Summit on October 17-20, 2016.

EV Summit 2016 logo

The EV Transportation & Technology Summit 2016 will focus on transportation planning and infrastructure.

(more…)

USDA Subsidized Energy Audits for Florida Ag Producers and Rural Small Businesses

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

By Janet McIlvaine
09/22/2016

The University of Central Florida’s FSEC conducts energy audits, renewable energy assessments, and technical assistance for the USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grant and loan program which is specifically for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements. Any Florida agriculture operation or rural small business is eligible for FSEC support. The USDA subsidizes 75% of FSEC’s audit cost.

Two FSEC employees review solar access maps with business owner.

Solar access maps are produced and reviewed with business owners as part of FSEC’s technical assistance.

The audit includes an on-site visit to inventory energy use, utility bill analysis, evaluation of efficiency improvement options, projected annual energy savings, all summarized in a REAP-required Technical Report, and assistance with completing the technical portions of the application. Grants are eligible for up to 25% of eligible project costs and range from $2,500-$500,000 for renewable energy systems and $1,500-$250,000 for energy efficiency improvements.

(more…)

UCF and ICAMR Capture DOE Award for Cost-Competitive Solar Energy

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

September 14, 2016
By Barb Abney

A University of Central Florida-led team will receive $1.1 million to develop new manufacturing processes using a specialized tool that will bring the U.S. a step closer to achieving its goal of affordable photovoltaic (solar) energy.

UCF researcher, Kris Davis, stands next to the ACPVD system that deposits metal oxide material onto silicon wafers.

UCF researcher, Kris Davis, stands next to the ACPVD system that deposits metal oxide material onto silicon wafers.

The project, led by Kris Davis, a research engineer at UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center, will largely take place at the university’s International Consortium for Advanced Manufacturing Research in Osceola County where the tool will be among the first to be installed when the building opens in spring 2017.

Making the research manufacturable was critical to getting the federal funding and having the state-of-the-art facility in Osceola County where process engineers will be on staff to manage the equipment was also imperative, Davis said.

“This is the future,” he said of the process his team will use to ultimately produce thousands of solar cells an hour in and without the costly and cumbersome vacuum-based deposition processes typically used to convert silicon wafers into solar cells. (more…)

UCF EcoStruction Workshops Provide Steps Toward a Sustainable Career

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

By Sherri Shields
August 3, 2016

EcoStruction is a series of workshops offered by the University of Central Florida’s Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) that provides the first steps toward a sustainable career path in clean energy, sustainability or the environment.

Sponsored by CareerSource Brevard as part of the Clean Energy Jobs Accelerator Grant, participants of the pilot training program on August 1 – 5 were able to choose from five different courses:

  • Introduction to Construction Jobs & Energy Efficient Housing
  • Introduction to Sustainability
  • Introduction to Building Efficiency Performance
  • Introduction to Photovoltaic Systems Technician
  • Introduction to Photovoltaic Sales and Marketing

In addition to their chosen workshop, participants received Sustaining Service training by UCF’s Rosen College of Hospitality to develop customer service and soft skills that are in high demand by Brevard employers.

Students constructing wall sections for an energy efficient dog house.

In the Introduction to Construction Jobs & Energy Efficient Housing workshop, students learn basic construction techniques and how to integrate energy efficiency features. Photo: Sherri Shields

“Combining Sustaining Service with specific occupational skills, and a layer of clean energy training, elevates these participants’ chances of securing employment,” said Valerie Carothers, CareerSource Brevard business liaison to the clean energy industry.

“Thanks to our training partners, Central Florida Clean Cities Coalition, the UF/IFAS Extension Service in Brevard County, and UCF Continuing Education, we were able to offer a variety of clean energy topics, and so far the feedback has been fantastic,” said Colleen Kettles, program director for business and workforce development at FSEC.

“I started this class knowing nothing, and even had a hard time pronouncing photovoltaics, but now I feel like an expert,” said Joussette Calvo, a participant in the Introduction to Photovoltaic Sales and Marketing workshop.

Tesla electric car (silver with black racing stripes) with all doors and hood opened for workshop participants to take a look.

Students were able to see a Tesla electric car and learn how it integrates into a LIfeStyle solar-powered home. Photo: Nick Waters

Students also had the opportunity to see a Tesla electric car and hear from guest speaker, Larry Hufford, founder of homebuilder LifeStyle Homes, about how homes, photovoltaic systems and electric cars are integrating. “The LifeStyle solar-powered home generates its own electricity from sunshine. The Tesla then uses this sunshine-generated electricity to get its battery charge. This means that the Tesla essentially runs on sunshine!”

Instructor in front of seated students with an instructional model of a home in the background.

Instructor Tei Kucharski discusses Home Energy Ratings in the Introduction to Building Efficiency Performance workshop. Photo: Nick Waters

Although the EcoStruction workshops are only offered as part of this pilot training series, FSEC offers other courses that support clean energy career development. Visit http://ce.fsec.ucf.edu/ for a full course listing.

For additional training information, please contact Colleen Kettles, ckettles@fsec.ucf.edu.

PR16-04

EVTC Helping to Make STEM Learning Relevant Through Electrathon

Monday, July 18th, 2016

By Susan Schleith
July 18, 2016

There was no roar of engines and no smelly fumes as the electric go-carts sped by the attentive crowd of students, teachers and the public gathered by the track in front of UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) in Cocoa. This was the final race of the Electrathon season coordinated by Electrathon of Tampa Bay, which was held in conjunction with the statewide EnergyWhiz event on Saturday, May 14, 2016. Over one thousand people, young and old, attended EnergyWhiz, with the opportunity to learn about a variety of clean energy technologies, including hydrogen, photovoltaics and electric vehicles.

Photo of go-cart type electric vehicles ready to race at FSEC as part of EnergyWhiz.

Electrathon vehicles get in place before the last race of the 2015-2016 Season at the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) in Cocoa.

The Electrathon is a race featuring battery-powered electric go-carts that have been designed and built by the participating individuals and teams.   There are no refueling pit stops during an Electrathon race; the challenge is completing the most laps in one hour without completely draining the vehicle’s battery. Nine organizations were represented at the event with several of those with multiple teams; a total of 13 vehicles raced.

(more…)

Energy Audits for Rural Small Businesses

Friday, June 5th, 2015

Revised June 10, 2015

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) offers Renewable Energy Systems & Energy Efficiency Improvement Loans & Grants to rural small businesses. USDA chose the University of Central Florida’s FSEC to provide a limited number of subsidized building energy audits to small businesses in rural Florida communities who are eligible for the grants and loans. Audit candidates must also meet FSEC criteria, which will be determined by a phone interview.

Photo of small town businesses on a "main street."

A limited number of subsidized building energy audits will be available to small businesses in rural Florida communities. Photo: ThinkStock.com

What is a building energy audit? An energy audit is an assessment of the energy use and energy saving opportunities in a building. The business or building owners play a role in the audit by providing utility bills and getting quotes for the improvements to facilitate cost-benefit calculations. The audit report provides recommendations and calculations that help applicants complete the technical sections of the Renewable Energy Systems & Energy Efficiency Improvement Loan & Grant applications.

(more…)

New Florida Energy Code Effective June 30, 2015. Sign Up for the Training You Need; Limited Time Discount Available

Thursday, June 4th, 2015

By Sherri Shields
June 4, 2015
Updated: July 01, 2015

Florida Building Code Fifth Edition (2014) Energy Conservation

FSEC training courses will address the changes in the Florida Building Code, Fifth Edition (2014) Energy Conservation.

New Florida Energy Conservation Code—5th Edition (2014)—is effective June 30, 2015*.

*Notice of Legislative Delay: SB 2502-A, Section 69, Chapter 2015-222 Laws of Florida 5th Edition (2014) Florida Building Code

Residential energy code changes include:

  • Building air leakage rate testing and limit requirements
  • New prescriptive compliance requirements
  • New performance compliance reference values

Commercial energy code changes include new methods for code compliance:

  • ASHRAE prescriptive method
  • ASHRAE energy cost budget method
  • ASHRAE envelope trade-off option method
  • IECC prescriptive method
  • IECC performance method.

Get the updates and training you need.  Sign up by July 31 for a $50 discount (use discount code “Newcode”) on the following courses:

A complete list of FSEC courses can be found at: http://ce.fsec.ucf.edu/.

 

GRAND OPENING: EV Charging Station @ FSEC

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

You are cordially invited to attend the Grand Opening of the Electric Vehicle Charging Station at UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center on Friday, March 20, 2015 at 11 a.m. 1679 Clearlake Road, Cocoa, FL 32922. Ride & Drive the Nissan LEAF®.