If enough builders take the bait, one of the next product categories to come under federal Energy Star scrutiny might be micro combined heating and power (micro-CHP) equipment, efficient heating units that also generate electricity to further offset energy use and costs. Also known as cogeneration and sized for single-family applications, the technology headlines the EPA’s new Climate Choice program, an effort to inspire builders to incorporate emerging energy-saving products and practices into new homes to test their performance and market viability. The results may lead Energy Star to establish standards for micro-CHP systems to qualify under the program.
Micro-CHP equipment (pictured) recycles heat from its combustion process and uses it to provide a consistent and comfortable indoor climate. At the same time, the energy generated by the process is converted into electricity to supplement grid-provided power and/or earn energy credits from the utility.
Phase change is another new technology making waves, specifically a bio-based product called Pure Temp from Entropy Solutions that serves as a thermal mass—absorbing and releasing outdoor heat energy—to help regulate indoor temperatures and lessen HVAC loads.
Phase Change Energy Solutions has applied the technology to a supplemental insulation barrier called BioPCM. Applied to the interior stud walls behind drywall and encapsulating the wall cavity insulation, the membrane’s insulation pockets absorb and slowly release heat that gets through the structure from the outside.