Energy Efficiency and You

According to Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, energy efficiency is “using less energy to provide the same service”. We all strive for energy efficiency for different reasons. Maybe you want to reduce your impact on the environment, or to simply lower your power bills. Regardless of your reasons, you can save energy and money by following a few simple recommendations.

Adjust your thermostat when you leave home

Breakdown of home energy usage.
Courtesy of U.S. Department of Energy

Space heating and cooling account for over half of the energy usage in a typical American home. So it makes sense to reduce that as much as possible. How long does your heating or air conditioning system take to get your home to a comfortable temperature? Forced air furnaces and air conditioners may take only 15 or 20 minutes to reach a comfortable environment. Steam boilers may take an hour or more. Consider what type of system you have and if you’re going to be gone for more time than it takes to reach that temperature, it’s generally more efficient to adjust your thermostat so the system won’t operate while your gone.

Use a space heater if you’re the only one home

Why heat the whole house if you’re spending all of your time in one or two rooms? Small electric space heaters can be an effective way to reduce your heating bill. Before heading out to work do you spend most of your time in the kitchen? Try leaving the thermostat down in the morning and using a space heater in the kitchen.

Organize your errands to reduce driving

Courtesy of AAA Newsroom

According to AAA’s ‘Your Driving Costs’ study it now costs 59.6¢ per mile to operate an average size sedan. SUVs are as high as 75.7¢ per mile! So that quick trip to the store for a $3 gallon of milk could be costing you more than you think. It just takes a little planning to combine multiple errands into single trips. Can you get everything you need from one store? If you need to visit multiple locations what is the shortest distance to visit all of them in one trip? Use online tools like Google Maps to figure out the best route. Can that item you need wait until the next outing?

Read the Homeowners Handbook to Energy Efficiency

The Homeowners Handbook to Energy Efficiency begins by explaining energy measurement. If you’re going to save energy then you should be able to count the energy savings. This useful handbook also explains how the following actions can save energy and money.

  • Insulating your home: materials and methods
  • Sealing expensive air leaks in your home: where to find them and how to seal them
  • Landscaping for energy efficiency: what types of plants and where to plant them
  • Saving on heating energy: making heating systems more efficient
  • Saving air conditioning electricity: how to stay cool and use less AC
  • Using solar electricity: is your home pointed in the right direction
  • Building a new energy-efficient home: what to demand from your contractors

If you’re looking instead for a more professional look at energy efficiency and energy conservation for existing  buildings, consider the book Residential Energy. This book is used as a training manual for energy auditors and weatherization workers across the country.

For more information visit:  Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory

3 thoughts on “Energy Efficiency and You”

    1. The most efficient heat pumps are about as efficient at using energy as a high-efficiency gas furnace. Coal fired electricity is only around 30% efficient but the modern heat pump can move 3 units of heat for every unit of electricity making the heat pump roughly equal to the 90+% efficiency of the condensing gas furnace.

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