Las Vegas Sun

July 31, 2014

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Sun Editorial:

Cutting waste in homes

A Summerlin subdivision is being built as a model for studying energy efficiency

In the future homeowners might be more apt to hesitate a moment before flipping on a light switch. They might ask: “Is this really necessary?”

Other typical thoughts might be: Did I leave my cell phone charger plugged in? Do I honestly need that air conditioner set so low?

This kind of constant questions by homeowners and their families are easily foreseeable if the type of homes going up in a Summerlin subdivision become common over the next decade.

The subdivision is Villa Trieste. The built-in energy efficiency of its planned 185 houses — along with conservation incentives offered to the home buyers — is the result of a collaboration among Pulte Homes, UNLV researchers and NV Energy.

Along with better-fitting insulation, solar arrays and energy-efficient lighting and appliances, the homes come with advanced electric meters. This allows the homeowners to better gauge how much power they are using and how much it is costing.

Writing about the homes, the Las Vegas Sun’s Charlotte Hsu said they also come with a communication system that would allow NV Energy to upgrade the way it offers financial incentives to owners in exchange for them using less power during peak periods of use.

All of the energy-saving upgrades for the homes were made possible by a $7 million federal grant. How much the homeowners cooperate in saving energy via incentives will be monitored. This will help determine whether a wider application of the program could significantly reduce local power use, especially from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the summer.

Those are the hours NV Energy typically cannot cover with power generated by its own plants. It must then buy power on the open market, which is more expensive.

Since the dawn of electricity there has been a lot of wasted power in homes, waste that should now be curtailed in this era of high energy prices brought on by dwindling resources.

We are intrigued by this collaborative program and think what is learned from it will be big boost for conservation.

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