Energy efficiency can be defined as using technology to reduce the amount of energy required to perform a function, while producing the same output.
For example, insulating a home reduces the amount of heating and cooling energy required to keep the home at a comfortable temperature. Similarly, an LED light bulb requires less energy to provide the same amount of light as a traditional incandescent light bulb.
In other words, energy efficiency is all about smarter energy usage.
Energy Efficiency vs. Energy Conservation
Energy efficiency is often confused with energy conservation, which is the concept of changing your habits and activities in order to reduce energy consumption. Lowering your heat during the cold winter months or using your dishwasher less frequently are both examples of energy conservation.
Conversely, energy efficiency does not require you to change your habits; you can still heat your home to a comfortable temperature and use your dishwasher as often as you like, because the energy-efficient technologies built into these products reduce energy consumption on their own.
Most people consume energy everyday—for heating and cooling rooms, cooking, lighting, entertainment, and transportation—without thinking twice about it. But small changes like swapping out standard home appliances for energy efficient alternatives can have a major impact on the environment, their wallet, and even their quality of living.
Benefits of an Energy Efficient Home
There are significant opportunities to optimize energy efficiency in the residential sector. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that households can reduce their energy usage (and thereby their utility bills) up to 25-30% by using energy efficient appliances in their homes.
While it’s true that energy efficient products tend to be more expensive to purchase than their standard counterparts, it is important to consider the return on investment over time. The savings you can accumulate by using energy efficient appliances have the potential to offset the original purchase price years down the road.
It’s also worth noting that installing energy efficient features in your home can significantly increase resale value. For example, the 2018 Cost vs. Value Report estimates that an attic insulation renovation can earn a 107.7% ROI when you sell the house.
In addition to lowering costs on a household level, energy efficiency also reduces costs on an economic level. By relieving stress on the power grid and freeing up available energy stores, energy efficiency can make the United States less dependent on foreign fossil fuels.
Energy efficiency is also good for the planet. Reducing the amount of energy required to run households across the U.S. can cut carbon emissions on a massive scale. The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that residential energy efficiency can account for as much as 550 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent emissions reductions annually by 2050.
Another benefit of an energy efficient home that many people don’t consider is the improved quality of life. If your house has ever felt drafty and chilly in the winter or impossible-to-cool during the summer, you know firsthand how a lack of energy efficiency can affect comfort.
How to Improve the Energy Efficiency of Your Home
Many homeowners assume that improving energy efficiency requires a major investment. But that is not always the case! There are nearly countless ways to boost your home’s energy efficiency, from small steps (like swapping out incandescent light bulbs for LED bulbs) to larger projects (like upgrading insulation and weatherproofing).
Did you know the typical home loses over 25% of its heat through its windows? This is especially true of older windows that tend to have a single pane of glass, or may have air leaks around the frames.
Replacing your existing windows with modern, double-paned, energy efficient versions can significantly boost energy efficiency and keep your home at a comfortable temperature. The right windows and window treatments can also maximize the natural light in your home, reducing the need for artificial lighting.
If your roof was built 10 to 20 years ago (or longer), there is a good chance that it is allowing a large quantity of your home’s energy to escape. Roof repairs and replacements are a smart investment, as these projects can significantly improve insulation and reduce heating or cooling costs.
Additionally, dark roofs may become up to 70 °F hotter than reflective or light-colored roofs. This means that dark roofs may benefit homeowners in cooler climates, while white roofs may save energy in warm, sunny climates.
Improving your home’s insulation is one of the smartest energy efficient investments you can make. That’s because a tightly sealed thermal envelope is one of the key components of an energy efficient house.
After all, even the most efficient HVAC system in the world won’t reach its full potential if your home is allowing unwanted heat to enter or escape from the home.
Energy Efficient Appliances
Seek out home appliances with the ENERGY STAR® label, which identifies energy efficient products. The ENERGY STAR® program is managed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy.
This label can be found on 75+ categories of products, and may save you up to $4.50 for every $1 spent on electricity. These savings can add up to more than $500 per year.
The Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that if just 1 in 10 households purchased ENERGY STAR®-labeled heating and cooling equipment, the U.S. would avoid pumping 13 billion pounds of greenhouse gas emissions into the environment each year. These units can also cut your energy bill by more than $160.
If you’re in the Indianapolis or Cleveland area, give Unique Home Solutions a call to learn how we can help you improve the energy efficiency of your home.