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A Guide to Energy Efficiency Resources

Published Apr. 21, 2017

On September 29, 2015, the Western Area Power Administration (an agency within the US Department of Energy that markets wholesale electricity) announced that it was closing EnergyExperts.org. EnergyExperts.org offered a wide variety of tools, from online cost calculators to a calendar of energy-related events and a database of energy-related jobs.

While most of the site's resources were aimed at energy professionals in other agencies, towns and electric cooperatives, many consumers used the tools as well. Since Energy Experts' tools are no longer available, this page will point you to a wide variety of other websites that can provide similar tools and information for both consumer and professional use.

graph paper and calculator

Table of Contents

Air Conditioning Cost Calculators

We present a few different cost calculators below. The tool that you use should depend on how accurate you need the results to be, and how much information you have on hand to add as inputs.

  • York Op Cost is an online cooling cost calculator that can provide you with a rough estimate of your cooling costs, and a comparison of those costs with between more and less efficient air conditioners. If you're looking to buy a new central air conditioner, it's helpful to know the efficiency of the new units, as measured by their SEER. If you aren't sure, know that the minimum SEER that can be sold in the United States after January 1, 2015 is 13 in Northern states and 14 in Southern states.
  • Washington State University (WSU) offers a free cost calculator which we recommend for professional use. This tool allows you to compare ducted or ductless air conditioners, air-source vs geothermal heat pumps, or even room air conditioners.
  • Inspectapedia, while not for the faint-of-heart or math-phobic, provides a series of step-by-step formulas that allow you to estimate your cooling cost by hand.

Heating Cost Calculators

  • HVAC Op Cost provides a heating cost calculator for casual residential use.
  • ACDoctor offers a heating cost calculator. You need your gas rate (if applicable), the square footage of your home and when it was built, the year your heat system was installed, the retail price, and the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE), which is found in the user manual or on the heater cabinet.
  • For professional use, we again recomend WSU for their heating cost calculator.

Swimming Pool Heating Cost Calculator

  • Energy.gov provides a chart which lists a series of cities in the US, and the cost of heating a pool to different water termperatures for a season.
  • EnergyIdeas.org offers IndoorPoolCalc, a downloadable Excel spreadsheet that estimates the savings that are possible from several different energy conservation approaches.
  • Green Consultancy offers indoor pool efficiency tips, especially on pool hall ventilation and how combined heat and power (CHP) systems can help

Improving the Efficiency of Metal Buildings

metal-building

Metal is a go-to product for utility structures (garages, barns and out-buildings of all kinds) because of its prefabricated nature, its simplicity of construction and its durability in all conditions. If your metal building needs climate control, it is ALL about insulation. Since metal conducts heat and cold so well, shielding it from the air you are cooling or heating is essential.

Moisture condenses easily on metal surfaces, another good reason to minimize exposed surfaces and a hint you should look at vapor retarding insulation, one with a low PERM value.

There are several types of standard insulation that work well in metal structures, such as spray foam, rigid board, batt and blanket, and loose fill. Bubble foil, the insulation you see wrapped around HVAC ducting, is also an option.

The American Society of Heating Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) developed a standard for metal building insulation (ASHRAE 90.1-1999) that has been accepted as the code requirement in many states and communities around the country. The can help you deicde what to get and how much you need.

The North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA) offers a searchable online library that includes metal insulation, a big plus if you have an interest in the topic.

Pumping System Calculators

Pumps are another huge energy draw, especially well pumps, which must raise water vertically before delivering it anywhere. Pumps are complicated. If you don’t already know, you may want to run numbers to determine your pump hydraulic and shaft power as you consider energy saving tips. Rockwell has three calculating tools to choose from based on the sophistication of your pumping system. You will need a lot of information to make any pump energy calculator work, such as pump discharge pressure, suction pressure, pump flow in GPM, friction head loss in feet and input power.

Options for Utilities

If you are part of one of the hundreds of rural electric coops or small municipal electric utilities, you know customers are very sensitive to rates. It is important to keep costs down.

Energy Solutions Database

Energy.gov has excellent energy saving tips for consumers.

For government agencies and utilities the Western Area Power Association has links by category, including:

The Energy Ideas Clearinghouse offers a series of dated, though still useful reviews of different products designed to improve energy efficiency.

Events, Employment, Training

  • PennEnergy lists power generation and petroleum energy events
  • The US Energy Association lists upcoming and past events for members
  • 10times.com offers info on renewable energy conferences.
  • The US Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy has a very well-developed training site with workshops, online courses and other opportunities across the energy sector.
  • Energy Central’s event page is a good resource for training opportunities.

Energy sector job openings are getting easier to find:

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