WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced a $9 million investment in the development of leading-edge building technologies, including high-efficiency heating and cooling equipment.

“A typical American family spends nearly $2,000 per year on their home energy bills, and much of that money is wasted on air leaks and drafts in our homes’ roofs, attics, and walls. By bringing new, affordable energy efficient products to the market, we can help families save money by saving energy, while strengthening U.S. manufacturing leadership in technologies that are increasingly in demand worldwide,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu.

This new investment supports six advanced manufacturing projects to improve whole home energy performance, including:

• Approximately $6.5 million in four projects to develop highly-efficient, cost-effective HVAC systems; and

• Approximately $3 million to two projects that focus on building envelope materials.

For example, St. Louis-based Unico will receive $2 million to develop a cold-climate heat pump with a variable speed compressor that will maintain capacity and efficiency even at very low temperatures. The University of Idaho will design and demonstrate a roof sandwich panel that uses foam material to increase building thermal efficiency and helps reduce construction costs by 25 percent.

While U.S. energy use per capita was fairly consistent from 1990 to 2007, DOE said building improvements in efficiency for space heating and air conditioning have helped achieve a reduction in the last five years. Nearly 60 percent of homes now have energy-efficient windows, up from 36 percent in 1993. About 40 million households have used caulking or weather-stripping to seal air leaks and 26 million have added insulation. The U.S. Energy Information Administration expects that energy use per capita will continue to fall by an additional 15 percent through 2040.

But DOE said that additional improvements are needed. The six projects announced will address opportunities for improved building performance and cost savings.

For more information on these projects, click here.

Publication date: 1/21/2013