Guide to Home Energy Efficiency and Energy Conservation

 

What is Home Energy Efficiency?

Home energy efficiency is one of the biggest initiatives in the broader sustainability movement with good reason: energy efficiency very easy to undertake, and it’s the most affordable ways to immediately and drastically reduce your impact on the planet and on your budget.

At its most basic, energy efficiency means making the best use of the energy used in your daily life– simply doing more with less. Energy efficiency is the easiest way for homeowners and business owners to practice energy conservation with minimal effort. Energy efficiency upgrades for the home include improving lighting technology to reduce wattage used, tweaking appliances, furnaces, and water heaters to help them run more efficiently, and water saving technology to reduce the amount of water used in showers and sinks.

Surprisingly, though the efforts seem small, energy efficiency actions have some of the biggest impact of all energy initiatives. This graph below shows that while building installing solar panels on the home or building a new carbon capturing coal plants has a huge impact (shown in the width of each blue bar), the cost is exceptionally high.

Seemingly small actions like switching to LEDs or upgrading an HVAC system can actually make a big difference; because these actions have such low cost, it is clear that this is where both personal and political actions need to be directed. In fact, research shows that energy efficiency is America’s cheapest energy resource, and it is in your hands!

energy abatement potential energy efficiency

Furthermore, efficiency saves us all money. Research shows that energy efficiency is America’s cheapest energy resource. The ACEEE (American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy) Executive Director Steven Nadel says, “The cheapest energy is the energy you don’t have to produce in the first place. [When] utilities are examining options on how to provide their customers with cheap, clean electricity, energy efficiency is generally the best choice.”

And the very best part about undertaking energy efficiency is that change is easy and affordable. Unlike installing a solar panel system, which is too costly or impractical for many home owners, efficiency changes incur a small upfront cost, but the payback period is usually quite short. Because of the affordability, almost everyone can take on some energy efficient initiatives in their life, whether they are a homeowner, a renter, a building manager or a city official.

There are many different types of energy efficiency, but here we will cover three of the most important and easiest tasks to undertake.

LED lightbulbs
change your lights to LED bulbs for immediate energy savings

3 Ways to Save Money and Reduce your Impact with Energy Efficiency

1. Lighting and Electrical Efficiency

Swapping out incandescent bulbs for LED light bulbs has a big impact on electricity usage. LEDs have a higher upfront cost than CFL light bulbs, but switching to either LED or CFL means immediate savings and reduction of your energy usage. LEDs are now more available than ever, and come in almost every shape and size for home and business. LEDs use about 25%-80% less energy than traditional incandescents, which saves you money everyday. But they also last 3-25 times longer, saving you money in the long-term too, according to Energy.gov.

timer stripLearn more about how home energy efficiency can save you money and energy from Pono Home

Light bulbs are the big efficiency hack, but learning about how your TV, gaming consoles and gadgets use electricity unnecessarily can help reduce your bills as well. Learn more about energy use of gaming consoles, get tips for reducing vampire power in the home, and learn about how to use timers, and how to choose the best power strips and smart strips to reduce the energy draw of all your electronics.

2. Appliance Efficiency

It doesn’t matter whether you have brand new appliances or older models, all dryers, refrigerators and air conditioners can benefit from easy and fast efficiency tweaks. Task yourself with quick energy efficiency activities for dryers like cleaning the lint trap and vent, a clean drying sensor, and using the auto-dry settings; and learn more about efficiency for washing machines here. Find out about energy efficiency tips for the refrigerator and stove to reduce you energy use in the kitchen and ensure a longer life for your appliances.

dryer lint vent
clean your dryer lint vent after every load and biannually clean the lint trap and vent for higher efficiency

3. Water efficiency

Water Efficient Showerhead
a high efficiency shower head can reduce your water draw by at least half!

Water efficiency is just as important as energy efficiency, though it might not seem apparent at first. It takes a lot of energy to move water around your city, and water saving devices can reduce your need for water draw at home. But high efficiency water fixtures can save you in another way– by reducing the need for gas and electricity to heat wasted hot water.

Reducing the amount of hot water wasted in the shower or sink reduces both water bills and gas/electric bills, which is important at both the home level and at the municipal level. Lots of electricity is used to move water around our cities to your home, so reducing your water draw at home reduces electricity usage overall.

Water efficiency initiatives are very cost effective and easy to implement. Reducing your water intake can include tasks like swapping out regular faucet aerators and shower heads for high efficiency options, making your toilet more water efficient with tanks and dual-flush converters, and adding gadgets for reducing water in other ways around the home. Click here to get more energy efficiency tips for your bathroom and home.

Check out out sidebar on the right to find hundreds of easy energy efficiency tips for the home.

Image credits: LED image, kilowatt image from Shutterstock; abatement graph from Mckinsey Australian Climate Change Initiative