People use energy in their homes every day – from heating and cooling, to lighting and entertainment. In fact, roughly 40% of all energy consumed in the U.S. goes to powering homes and commercial building, and globally building are responsible for over one-third of energy consumed. Not only does this have harmful effects on our environment, but is can also put a big dent in our wallets.
This guide is designed to help you understand the basics of energy efficiency and provide practical solutions to save energy at home and lower your electric bill.
Efficiency vs. Conservation
While energy efficiency and energy conservation both involve the management of energy, they have two distinct meanings.
As the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) defines energy efficiency, it is “the use of technology that requires less energy to perform the same function”. Energy conservation on the other hand is “any behavior that results in less energy”. A example of both can be found below.
Energy Efficiency: Using a compact florescent light (CFL) over an incandescent - a CFL uses less energy than an incandescent to product the same amount of light.
Energy Conservation: Turing off the lights when you leave a room, or unplugging your electronics when you are not home or not using them.
The Building Envelope
An important step towards understanding if your home is wasting energy is first understanding what defines an air-tight, home.
As defined by the International Energy Agency (IEA), “the building envelope – also known as the shell, fabric, or enclosure – is the boundary between the conditioned interior of a building and the outdoors”. In other words, it is the exterior walls, ceilings, floors, windows, and doors that keep your home sealed.
The energy performance of this envelope is crucial in determining how much energy is required to heat and cool your home. If there are leaks in this envelope, you may be experiencing temperature problems and paying more than you should on your utility bill.
Sealing air leaks is one of the fastest, most cost effective ways you can reduce energy waste in your home and save money.
According to the Florida Energy Center, over 30% of energy used to heat and cool your home escapes through leaks in your building envelope and ductwork. The more energy that leaks into and out of your home, the harder your HVAC system has to work to heat and cool your home, costing you valuable money.