Living with Home Energy Efficiency
Home energy efficiency is essential in today’s eco-conscious world and there is little inside a residential property that does not come into play, toward creating more energy efficient homes. From light bulbs to water heaters, from home appliances to the way a home is insulated, energy savings always start in the home and they always lie in the details. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a home uses 42 per cent of its total energy expenditure on space heating, 18 per cent on water heating, 6 per cent for cooling the home, 5 per cent for lighting and refrigeration (each), while the remaining 24 per cent is spent on other uses. This is why regular home energy audits are important and why they 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 manages to deliver, for the 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 that relate to home building and ownership.
- Home building efficiency. The EERE runs several research and development plans, as well as a host of market stimulation plans, such as 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.
- Lighting standards. The Office is currently working to promote LED lighting better and to make sure the facts circulated about this technology are accurate. At the same time, it is encouraging the use of SSL (solid state lighting), which may one day cut down nationwide energy consumption levels to half their current values.
- Equipment and appliance standards. The Building Technologies Office of the EERE is already enforcing energy savings standards for some 50 discrete categories of equipment and appliances. Thus far, this has resulted in saving some $55 billion on power bills in 2014 alone. 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.
What is energy conservation?
Energy conservation is closely tied in with energy efficiency. It is a concept that stems from physics, as the energy conservation definition illustrates. In terms of the home use of energy, conservation refers to cutting down on the amount of power used, by saving energy, reducing waste, and making sure the energy available is used rationally.
Nowadays, with several programs across the country aimed at improving energy consumption levels in the residential segment, it’s actually not that difficult to create a tailored energy conservation plan for your own home. 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 degrees Fahrenheit. The same recommendations advise against installing a central A/C system, save for the situation in which the whole house requires cooling down. Other tips include recycling old appliances and having them replaced with newer ones, which observe ENERGY STAR standards. Finally, if you’re thinking of building yourself a home, or of purchasing a new residential construction, you shouldn’t underestimate the potential of sun-tempered homes. By using passive solar energy, a super-insulated home of this type stands to cut down your energy consumption levels by up to 40 per cent.
Here are some other useful tips for homeowners interested in devising a customized energy conservation plan:
- Thermostats should be set back during the night (by some 8 F) or when the house is not occupied for 24 hours (down to 50-55 F);
- Unused rooms can be heat-sealed by keeping their doors, windows, and heat registers closed.
- Heating systems need to be regularly cleaned, with filters replaced about once a month during the months when heating systems are in use.
- Hot water leaks and other losses can also render a home less energy efficient. As such, owners should make sure none of their faucets are leaking and have low-pressure shower heads installed. Make sure the water temperature on your washing machine is set to an appropriate level and invest in an ENERGY STAR water heater.
- Refrigerators should be set to 35-40F, with freezers at 0-5F. Don’t hold fridge doors open for too long and keep ice buildup levels in the freezer down to an absolute 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 them air dry in there. Newer models no longer require that you rinse the dishes before washing them.