What exactly is an energy efficient home? Provided it meets with it’s owner’s energy demands, an energy efficient home is one that reduces energy waste by reducing unnecessary consumption of energy; consequently, energy efficient homes reduce their environmental impact by reducing emissions of greenhouse gasses. Comparing an energy efficient home with a conventional home, one can easily spot the differences in their respective energy behaviours; and energy behaviour translates to home energy bill, thus significant cost savings of energy efficient homes over conventional ones.
There are various areas for improving the energy performance of your home aiming at improving its energy efficiency. But before we look in to those let us first take a look at some important definitions.
Increasing the energy performance of your home would mean to change your home in such a way that it requires less energy to provide you with the same output level of services. This involves taking measures at all levels, from orienting your home, designing it, building it and living in it.
Along conservation of energy come all measures that we take to reduce our consumption of energy. The difference between energy efficiency and energy conservation lies to the fact that with conservation of energy we refer to measures that reduce our demanded level of output. For example, lowering our heater thermostat and compensating with heavier clothing indoors would be a measure towards conserving energy whereas, improving thermal insulation and sealing air leaks would be an example of improving energy efficiency.
Conserving energy and using energy efficiently are generally considered passive measures for saving energy and constitute main cornerstones of recent movements towards lowering consumption of fossil fuels (non-renewable) and generally reducing our environmental footprint towards environmental and economic sustainability.
So how can you increase the energy performance of your home? Below we list some main methods for increasing your home energy performance.
During hot summer periods we need energy for cooling our home to the desired temperature level for internal comfort. On the other hand, during cold winter periods we use energy for heating it. A well insulated home will require less energy to reach internal comfort as proper insulation keeps unwanted heat out during the summer and keeps internal heat from escaping (energy waste) during winter. Consequently, properly insulating your home, roof insulation, wall insulating material, using thermal brakers, thermal glass and thermal frames, will make it consume less energy for heating and cooling and effectively reducing your energy bill.
According to the US department of energy, space heating and cooling account for almost 50% of home energy bills. To improve your heating and cooling system at home try using it more sensibly according to your real needs and family shedule. Also, by keeping up with its maintenance such as changing air filters regularly, insulating air ducts on a scheduled basis and having it services according to manufacturers specifications can lead to 20% energy savings.
Apart from building design and construction properties of your home, energy efficiency also involves using energy efficient appliances at home. Adopting sensible energy behaviour dictates choosing energy efficient electrical appliances and other equipment for your home. Generally, all energy rated appliances bear an energy certificate that states the appliance’s energy behaviour – energy consumption. Appliances such as electrical house appliances, water heaters, fans, light bulbs and other equipment can significantly increase the energy performance of a home.
As mentioned, incorporating energy efficiency as early as design stages of your home can be a life saver! Passive energy saving measures such as bioclimatic design, using solar lighting and solar heating for compensating towards home energy needs (for heating and lighting) and designing openings to optimise desired energy gains from surroundings and environment can help increase the energy performance of your home.
If you have an existing home and wish to seriously increase its energy performance you are looking at making an investment now to save energy from all you future energy bills. Apart from above directions, if you want to look into this at the next level it is recommended that you hire a professional to make an energy assessment of your home. That is, identifying your sources of energy waste and setting up a plan to combat your specific energy losses. Energy audits constitute a detailed and effective methodology of identifying sources of energy losses and ‘solving’ them through proper financial evaluations.