Berkeley National Laboratory Scientists Inventing Paint-on Retrofit for Energy Efficient Windows

by Erin Larsen

The US Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) researchers are in the process of developing a paint-on coating for windows to increase energy efficiency. It is estimated that 10 percent of aggregate energy consumption in buildings in the US is due to window performance. Warm and southern climates are particularly impacted because a significant fraction of energy usage goes to air conditioning. This inefficiency costs building owners about $50 billion annually. While window replacement or other commercially available retrofits would resolve this problem, the high cost of these options is prohibiting. Berkeley Lab’s polymer heat-reflective coating that can be painted on would be $1.50 per square foot, one-tenth the current market for commercially installed energy efficient retrofit window coatings. Continue reading

Price Premiums for Homes with Rooftop Solar

by Liza Farr

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory recently released a study on solar PV systems housing premiums using the largest data set to date (Hoen et al. 2014). PV costs have dropped drastically in the past several years, and innovative financing options such as Power Purchase Agreements and solar leasing have made solar an increasingly popular addition to residential homes. The new study, using a hedonic pricing model, reveals an average of around $4 per watt increase in housing price for a PV home over a non-PV home. This approximates to about a 0.92% increase in value for each kilowatt installed. There also appears to be a “green cachet,” meaning buyers are willing to pay a base amount for having PV at all, with incremental increases in willingness to pay with increases in the size of the system. Unfortunately, although to be expected, there is a clear decrease in price premiums as the systems age. Since one of the biggest drawbacks of solar panels are the high input costs, this return in the form of a housing price premium could convince many homeowners to make the purchase (Hoen et al. 2014). Continue reading