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Ask the Energy Wiz!

Q: Dear Energy Wiz,
I am interested in finding someone to develop a wind farm in rural Nebraska. Are there any tips or contacts you may know that can help achieve this goal?

A: Dear Reader,
Since you are seeking a developer for a wind farm, you probably want to install large scale utility-sized turbines. There are a number of wind articles on the Energy Office web site, that can help. Locate “Newsletters” on the left side of the page and click on any newsletter. Most have relevant wind energy development articles. You should also take a look at the recently completed wind resource maps to assess your property’s suitability for wind energy development.

Before proceeding, you should first contact Nebraska Public Power District to see if they are interested. You might also check with any major industry in your area, since they are usually large users of electricity, and might be interested. The Nebraska Farmers Union has been seeking ways to develop the state’s wind resources, so you might want to contact them.

Nearly all power generation in the state must be approved by the Power Review Board. You may also want to contact them, with regard to finding a party interested in constructing a wind farm. The contact Tim Trexel at the Power Review Board, P.O. Box 94713, Lincoln, NE 68509, phone 402-471-2301.

Permits for wind towers are handled by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Form 7460, “Obstruction to Air Spaces.” The state’s Department of Aeronautics at P.O. Box 82088, Lincoln, NE 68501, phone 402-471-2371 should be able to help you in this area.

Sincerely,
The Energy Wiz

Dear Energy Wiz,
I have a mobile home and the kitchen floor is cold. The home has R-11 Fiberglass insulation and I would like to increase the amount of insulation. Which is more cost effective: fiberglass or reflective? If reflective is the preferred option, what is more cost effective: rigid board or foil coated kraft paper?

A: Dear Reader,
The most cost effective insulation option in this situation is probably fiberglass.

The only time insulation with reflective properties is appropriate is when the reflective surface is facing a sealed air space. It is very difficult to seal — and maintain the sealed — a building’s air space. Once a reflective surface becomes dirty, the reflective properties are lost and the R-value of the air space is greatly reduced. The R-value per inch of sealed air spaces with reflective coatings is typically less than the R-values per inch of typical insulation such as fiberglass, rockwool and cellulose (The exceptions are heatflow downward and for smaller air space thickness). As the air space thickness increases, the R-value per inch of the air space goes down. Heat flows typically reverse direction as the seasons change from hot to cold.

The Energy Wiz!
The Energy Wiz!
There is one product called polyisocyanurate, which typically comes with a foil face on one or both sides. The R-value of this product is R-6 per inch, and it is a very good insulator. However, this product is usually more expensive than the more common types of insulation. This product gets it's insulation characteristics from the polyisocyanurate, not the reflective surfaces.

Air space R-values vary depending on the orientation of the reflective surface and the temperature difference. Fiberglass, rockwool and cellulose are typically around R-3.5 per inch. Fiberglass, rockwool, cellulose and polyisocyanurate maintain there R-value virtually independent of orientation and temperature difference.

For more information on reflective surfaces, see the 2001 ASHRAE Handbook of Fundamentals, page 25.4.

Sincerely,
The Energy Wiz

Editor's Note:
The staff at the Energy Office respond to many inquiries on a variety of topics from Nebraskans. From time to time, the Quarterly will share some questions — and the answers — with readers.
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