Is my house energy efficient enough?

Energy Efficient Homes represent a good opportunity to reduce your energy bill and carbon footprint. The use of more energy efficient and cost effective technologies and products at home is helping the residential sector to reduce its GHG emissions.

Is my house energy efficient enough?

Probably you have heard the term “Energy Efficient Home” but you still may want to know more details about this type of home. An energy efficient home is a house that optimizes its use of energy the best possible way. We can find different forms of use of energy in our homes; for example, every time we turn our heating system on during the cold season our consumption of gas/electricity increases and so does energy bills. Fortunately, there are several ways to make your consumption of energy in your house more efficient.

Energy efficient home with solar panels on roof.

We have to remember that our homes still use a significant amount of energy coming from fossil fuels. It is very likely that our heating systems work on natural gas and that the electricity we use at home still comes from sources that burn coal or natural gas. When we burn gas at home and/or use electricity coming from burning fossil fuels we are contributing to the amount of greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions that our region is generating; and as you may know by now, we all are now somehow involved in regional, national and international activities to reduce GHG emissions in our combat to Climate Change. Having a more energy efficient home is a win-win opportunity for everybody since we will be able to reduce our energy consumption in our houses at the same time we are reducing the Carbon Footprint (GHG emissions) individually and in our community.

The info presented here will lead you through the main concepts and generalities regarding energy efficient homes including current technologies and trends. After reading this info you will know important aspects to consider if you want to make your house more energy efficient. Whether you are interested in buying or building a new house or you are planning renting a new place, this article also shows you relevant aspects you should consider.

Impact on Climate Change

Nobody can deny our significant impact as individuals on the current rates of GHG emissions generated in our city, state, or country. As we all know, these gases have been linked to cause climate change. A GHG compound is CO2 which can be generated when we burn fossil fuels such as gasoline, diesel and natural gas. As a society, we have already started our transition to the use of less carbon-intense forms of energy and we will keep seeing important changes in the coming years as technologies become more efficient and more cost effective. An interesting question we can ask ourselves is how much houses can contribute to GHG emissions? For example, American and Canadian households generated around 15% and 6% respectively of their total GHG emissions in 2017. We all can reduce our individual carbon footprint after understanding how we consume energy in our houses and how we can implement activities or use products that are less energy intensive.

U.S. Greenhouse gas emissions by economic sector in 2017.

Opportunities to make your current or future house more energy efficient

Below you can find a list of points that can help you consuming less energy at home. Remember, you can consider these points if you are planning on buying/building or moving to a new home.

·       Avoid abrupt changes on your thermostat. Every change of season people turn their heating/cooling systems on in order to reach the desirable home temperature, this can require considerable use of energy because the difference in temperature. You can reduce that extra energy consumption by keeping the temperature inside your home as constant as possible.

·       Reduce air and moisture infiltration to your home. You should always try to avoid or reduce leaking air coming from windows, walls, attic and basement through the use of better insulation products and materials. If you have cold air entering your house during the winter season then your heating system will need to use more energy in order to counter that change in temperature. On the other hand, your cooling system will operate with a higher rate of energy use if your house is over humid.

·       Operate and maintain your heating and cooling systems at their most energy efficient level. Remember that the heating and cooling systems are responsible for a significant amount of the energy use in your house. Newer or well-maintained systems have higher efficiencies and use less energy. Always monitor the efficiency of your home system and look for advice to know when it is the right time to get a new and more efficient system.

·       Use energy efficient appliances, light bulbs and water heaters. Try to use appliances and water heater (water heaters can be the second highest source of energy consumption at homes) that are more energy efficient; for example, Energy StarR certified products are well recognized for having high efficiencies thus using less energy. Additionally, light emitting diodes (LED) and compact fluorescent (CFLs) lightbulbs can reduce your electricity use between 25% and 80% and they can last 3-25 times longer in comparison to incandescent bulbs.

You can know more about energy efficient light bulbs by watching this video.

Click here to see a comparison chart among the different types of light bulbs.

·       Energy efficiency programs and incentives at national, state, and municipal levels. You can take advantage of existing or future municipal and/or state programs related to energy efficiency. These programs are designed to save energy and operating costs at homes, buildings and industrial facilities and to reduce greenhouse gases emissions in a given region. They are also planned to support activities in the transition to less carbon-intense forms of energy by gradually (i) reducing current dependence on fossil fuels and (ii) encouraging the use of existing renewable energy technologies in a region. These programs can come in the form of rebate promotions to acquire home energy efficient products. Make sure you are constantly checking energy efficiency programs in your community, they can be a good opportunity for you to upgrade your house with LED lightbulbs, a new and more efficient thermostat or water heater, or solar panels in your roof.

GoGreenFinancing offers several energy efficiency programs in California.

·       House orientation. You can always take advantage of the energy coming from the sun. In the Northern Hemisphere during summer, the cooling system in a house that is north-south oriented uses less energy as the house would have less direct sunlight coming into the house. On the other hand, a house with the same orientation will maximize its direct sunlight during winter thus reducing energy consumption on heating and lighting during this season.

·       Current renewable energy technologies for homes. Advances in technology are always happening; just in the last two decades renewable energy technology has changed dramatically in terms of efficiencies, costs and availability. It is always recommended to do some research on current trends about the type of renewable energy products and technologies available in your region.

You can learn more about how solar panels can generate electricity by watching the “Energy 101: Solar Power” video.

·       Regional weather conditions. You can make the specific climate conditions in the region where you want to build your house play on your side and make your future home more energy efficient. For example; in hot regions with large amount of sunlight hours the house design should consider a shape that will reduce the exposure to the sun in order to minimize the use of air conditioning.

Example of an Energy Efficiency Home.

As you can see, having a home that is designed to consume less energy has a lot of benefits. You will be able to save on your energy bill and contribute to reduce the greenhouse gases emissions in your region at the same time you enjoy better indoor air quality at home after limiting air infiltrations. The existing or upgraded energy efficient fixtures in your house can also add resale value to your property.

We all are in the course of implementing technologies that are more ecofriendly, our home is definitely an excellent opportunity to keep reducing our carbon footprint.