All You Need to Know about Current Home Energy Efficiency Standards

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Last updated: 
April 8, 2024

Living with Home Energy Efficiency

Home energy efficiency is essential in today's eco-conscious world, and nearly every aspect of a residential property plays a role in creating more energy-efficient homes. From light bulbs to water heaters, home appliances to insulation, energy savings always start in the home and lie in the details. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a home uses 42% of its total energy expenditure on space heating, 18% on water heating, 6% for cooling, 5% each for lighting and refrigeration, and the remaining 24% on other uses (U.S. Department of Energy, n.d.). This is why regular home energy audits are important and can dramatically improve any home's energy savings standing.

What Makes a Home Energy Efficient?

According to the generally accepted energy efficiency definition, a home is efficient in terms of energy expenditure when its occupants actively manage and maintain energy consumption levels. The more energy-efficient a residence, the more performance and services it delivers for less energy consumption. The Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE) with the U.S. Department of Energy designs, improves, and enforces energy-efficient standards and technologies in several aspects related to home building and ownership (Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, n.d.).

Home Building Efficiency

The EERE runs several research and development plans, as well as market stimulation initiatives like Building America and the ENERGY STAR approach to building homes as a whole. It also awards homes an energy score, which gauges their overall energetic performance, encourages students to develop energy efficiency programs and designs, and enforces residential energy building codes (Building Technologies Office, n.d.).

Lighting Standards

The Office is currently working to better promote LED lighting and ensure the accuracy of facts circulated about this technology. Simultaneously, it encourages the use of SSL (solid-state lighting), which may one day cut nationwide energy consumption levels to half their current values (Solid-State Lighting, n.d.).

Equipment and Appliance Standards

The Building Technologies Office of the EERE enforces energy savings standards for some 50 discrete categories of equipment and appliances. As of 2014, this has resulted in saving approximately $55 billion on power bills. The office projects that the amount of money saved from 1987, when the standards first came into effect, until 2030, will surpass $1.7 trillion (Appliance and Equipment Standards Program, n.d.).

What is Energy Conservation?

Energy conservation is closely tied to energy efficiency. It is a concept that stems from physics, as the energy conservation definition illustrates. In terms of home energy use, conservation refers to cutting down on the amount of power used by saving energy, reducing waste, and ensuring the available energy is used rationally.

With several programs across the country aimed at improving energy consumption levels in the residential segment, creating a tailored energy conservation plan for your home is not difficult. For instance, best practice recommendations from the University of Colorado state that an occupied house can reach its maximum energy efficiency when its thermostat is set at 68°F (University of Colorado, n.d.). The same recommendations advise against installing a central A/C system, except when the entire house requires cooling. Other tips include recycling old appliances and replacing them with newer ones that observe ENERGY STAR standards. Finally, if you're considering building a home or purchasing a new residential construction, don't underestimate the potential of sun-tempered homes. By using passive solar energy, a super-insulated home of this type can cut your energy consumption levels by up to 40% (Passive Solar Home Design, n.d.).

Energy Conservation Tips for Homeowners

Here are some useful tips for homeowners interested in devising a customized energy conservation plan:

  • Set thermostats back during the night (by about 8°F) or when the house is unoccupied for 24 hours (down to 50-55°F).
  • Heat-seal unused rooms by keeping their doors, windows, and heat registers closed.
  • Regularly clean heating systems and replace filters about once a month during the months when heating systems are in use.
  • Fix hot water leaks and other losses to improve home energy efficiency. Ensure no faucets are leaking and install low-pressure showerheads. Set the water temperature on your washing machine to an appropriate level and invest in an ENERGY STAR water heater.
  • Set refrigerators to 35-40°F, with freezers at 0-5°F. Don't hold fridge doors open for too long and keep ice buildup levels in the freezer to a minimum.
  • Reduce the intensity of any gas cooker to the point where the flames are blue instead of yellow.
  • Only run the dishwasher when it's full and let dishes air dry inside. Newer models no longer require pre-rinsing dishes before washing.

From our research, implementing these energy conservation tips and investing in energy-efficient home improvements can significantly reduce your home's energy consumption and lower your utility bills. By taking a proactive approach to home energy efficiency, you can contribute to a more sustainable future while enjoying a comfortable living environment.

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