updated 11/9/2010 8:16:23 AM ET 2010-11-09T13:16:23

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Nov. 9, 2010 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A White Paper entitled "Reducing Home Energy Costs by Combining Solar and Energy Efficiency" was released today showing that typical U.S. homes will reduce their energy bills the most by generating their own power – rather than implementing energy efficiency measures. The complete text of the paper is available for download at http://www.westinghousesolar.com/whitepapers . The White Paper was written with the support of the California Solar Energy Industries Association (CALSEIA) and Westinghouse Solar.

The White Paper used Department of Energy software to evaluate three different ages of homes (old, typical and new) in ten cities in the U.S. for a total of 30 different test simulations to determine what combination of energy efficiency and renewable generation makes the most sense for homeowners. The conclusions are significant given that the residential sector consumes 22% of the energy in the United States, and there are only two ways to structurally reduce a home's energy costs: energy efficiency and energy generation. 

The results of these 30 different home simulations are that climate, local utility rates and home condition are the biggest factors in determining what are the most cost effective energy savings measures. Lighting retrofits are always cost effective. Weatherization and insulation energy efficiency measures are most cost effective in old homes in cold climates, but are not cost effective in newer homes or in temperate climates. Basic building shell and ventilation energy efficiency measures are most cost-effective in cold climates, but have long paybacks in more temperate zones. Rooftop solar power systems have good paybacks regardless of home condition in sunny areas and in areas with either high electric rates or high solar incentives. Solar thermal systems have good paybacks when the fuel source for hot water is electricity. Upgrades to Energy Star appliances and equipment are generally cost-effective when replacing broken or obsolete equipment, but are generally not cost effective when the existing equipment is still functional (analogous to not upgrading to a new, higher mileage car if the old one still works).

"In almost all of the U.S. housing stock built since the mid-1980s the 'low hanging fruit' of basic energy saving measures have already been harvested through energy efficiency regulations and rebate programs for energy efficiency measures," said Sue Kateley, Executive Director of CALSEIA. "Consequently, for a typical home in the U.S., rooftop solar energy systems (electric and thermal), will generate six times more energy than can be saved with lighting, weatherization and insulation retrofits combined. Generating the remaining energy required by the home will have the biggest impact on reducing home energy consumption.  Put simply, it is time for policymakers to reevaluate loading order priorities to ensure that the state and national policies to reduce energy consumption will be achieved in a cost effective manner."

"The economics for rooftop solar power systems have improved dramatically since 1980," said Barry Cinnamon, CEO of Westinghouse Solar. "According to these 30 home simulations, the most cost effective actions homeowners can take are to install energy efficient lighting and a rooftop solar energy system. We can't conserve our way to energy independence; but fortunately, with affordable rooftop solar we can now generate much of the energy we need."

The results outlined in the White Paper are somewhat contrary to the "conventional wisdom" regarding cost effectiveness for energy efficiency and solar energy systems. However, these results are not surprising when one considers the range of U.S. housing stock, varying climate conditions and current costs of various retrofit and renewable energy options. Most importantly, these results provide guidance for good national energy efficiency and solar policies that are consistent with homeowner economics.

About CALSEIA:

California Solar Energy Industries Association supports the widespread adoption of solar thermal and photovoltaic systems by educating consumers, supporting solar legislation and conducting business in a professional and ethical manner. For more information about CALSEIA, visit http://calseia.org/ .

About Westinghouse Solar:

Westinghouse Solar is a manufacturer and distributor of solar power systems. Award winning Westinghouse Solar Power Systems provide the best combination of safety, performance and reliability, while backed by the proven quality of the Westinghouse name. For more information on Westinghouse Solar, visit www.westinghousesolar.com.

The Westinghouse Solar logo is available at http://www.globenewswire.com/newsroom/prs/?pkgid=7801

The complete text of "Reducing Home Energy Costs by Combining Solar and Energy Efficiency – A White Paper" is available for download at http://www.westinghousesolar.com/whitepapers
 

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