Chasing after a star – Energy Star for a range hood

When preparing a blog post, I often ask myself: “What would be a one sentence summary”? For this post, I can boil it down to one word: Tenacity!

During my indoor air quality (IAQ) research, I learned about the importance of picking the right range hood:

  • The range hood is critical for moisture management and IAQ.
  • One has to be careful not to over-ventilate in tight homes – i.e. depressurize the building.
  • A ventilation capacity of 150 cfm is recommended for tight homes.
  • Stay away from powerful downdraft range hoods (600 to 1200 cfm).
  • Exhaust the range hood, and with it the moisture from cooking, to the outside.
  • Use an energy efficient, preferably Energy Star certified product.

See also:

It is that last item that required my tenacity – procuring an Energy Star certified product.

By looking at the various products, it is easy to conclude that a sleek design is what sells a range hood. Efficiency is really not much of a focus or selling point.

The Energy Star product list provides a refreshing departure from the sleek status quo. Here one can indulge in rows of energy efficient models. Although, after the first enthusiasm passed, the typical energy rating of 3.8 cfm/watt seemed disappointing.

Imagine my surprise back in 2011 when I read 8.6 cfm/watt. A Whirlpool range hood had appeared on the Energy Star list, and it promised to move air with a lot less electricity.

Fast forward a few months. The promising model disappeared from the Energy Star product list. I thought it would be wise to double check the product’s energy efficiency rating and searched the web – no luck. Was this one of those “too good to be true” cases?

When I called Whirlpool, no one seemed to be able to get their hands on the range hood’s energy efficiency rating either. One customer service agent finally revealed that the model had been discontinued. Oh my!

Back to 3.8 cfm/watt? I was left scratching my head.

Coming up with energy efficient range hoods can’t be rocket science! Great advances have been made in the development of extremely efficient ventilation motors. Just look at some of the current ERV and HRV products. Why do these advances not translate into the field of range hoods?

I kept checking the Energy Star product list every other month – and bingo! AirKing has a new model (Essence EB series) listed with 5.4 – 6.7 cfm/watt at an airflow of 107 – 132cfm. That is quite an improvement over the ESDQ AirKing model we used in the garden unit (3.8 – 4.0 cfm/watt at an airflow of 159 – 163 cfm).

Let’s buy it! But where? It was nowhere to be found … not among the online retailers, or even on AirKing’s web page.

It was time to pick up the phone. A call to AirKing in November, 2012 revealed that the new model was scheduled to hit the market in February 2013.

But why was it on the Energy Star product list months prior to that? AirKing submitted a prototype to Energy Star for testing and certification. Once certified, it made it onto the Energy Star product list. But AirKing still had to get ready for production.

This doesn’t make it easy for the consumer; it’s confusing and requires tenacity. I could afford to spend the time on tracking the products and wait this out. But what about other buyers?

I finally placed my order for range hood AirKing Essence EB at the end of April 2013, with a lead time of 10 days. Manufacturing was still ratcheting up.

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About Marcus de la fleur

Marcus is a Registered Landscape Architect with a horticultural degree from the School of Horticulture at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and a Masters in Landscape Architecture from the University of Sheffield, UK. He developed a landscape based sustainable pilot project at 168 Elm Ave. in 2002, and has expanded his skill set to building science. Starting in 2009, Marcus applied the newly acquired expertise to the deep energy retrofit of his 100+ year old home in Chicago.

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