When designing a new home or remodeling an existing one, providing maximum energy efficiency requires careful planning, research, and attention to detail. Taking the “whole-house systems” approach ensures that you have properly considered all areas affecting energy efficiency, and addresses the interaction between you, your building site, climate, as well as other components of your home. The components of this approach, the ‘Big 6,’ include:
Appliances and home electronics
Heating and cooling
Windows, doors, and skylights
Appliances and Home Electronics
Appliances typically account for 20% of a home’s energy consumption. Appliances include washers and dryers, computers, dishwashers, home audio equipment, refrigerator and freezer, air conditioners, televisions, DVD players/TV receivers, and water heaters. To ensure that your appliances provide maximum efficiency, verify that they are ENERGY STAR-qualified. The U.S. Department of Energy publishes guidelines for selecting ENERGY STAR-qualified appliances. Click on the image below for a link to these and other products.
Proper insulation offers one of the biggest energy saving benefits. Additionally, proper insulation provides added comfort and noise reduction, improving the overall livability of your home. Proper insulation involves a good understanding as to where to insulate, and which types and quantities of insulation to use for your particular climate and type of heating/cooling system you plan to install. Check with the U.S. Department of Energy website for insulation guidelines.
Artificial lighting accounts for approximately 10% of a home’s energy consumption. Using new artificial lighting technologies (i.e., replacing inefficient incandescent light bulbs) can reduce lighting costs by 50%-70%. Maximizing the use of natural daylight in your home via windows and skylights will further reduce the need for artificial lighting.
Heating and Cooling
Heating and cooling typically account for approximately 56% of the energy consumption in your home, making it the largest energy expense. Whether you are upgrading/replacing an existing system or selecting a new system, make sure that you address supporting equipment such as thermostats and air ducts, which provide additional energy savings opportunities. Work with your builder or remodeler to consider the wide variety of technologies available for heating and cooling your home.
Water heating can account for 14%-25% of your home’s energy use. There are many energy savings water heating strategies from which to choose for your home or pool. These strategies include how hot water is used, insulation techniques, and of course, employing energy saving equipment. The U.S. Department of Energy website contains information regarding selecting water heating equipment and employing water heating energy savings strategies.
Windows, Doors, and Skylights
Windows, doors, and skylights can gain and lose heat in several ways: 1) direct conduction through the glass or glazing, frame, and/or door, 2) radiation of heat into a house (typically from the sun), and out of a house from room-temperature objects, such as people, furniture, and interior walls, and 3) air leakage through and around windows, doors, and skylights. When selecting new or replacing existing doors and windows, use their energy performance ratings to tell you their potential for gaining and losing heat, as well as transmitting sunlight into your home. Atrium Windows and Doors is an example of an Energy rated company. Click on the picture below for more information.
In conclusion, builders and designers who use this ‘whole-house systems’ approach recognize that the features of one component in the house can greatly affect other components. This ultimately affects the overall energy efficiency of the house. The U.S. Department of Energy website contains vital information on proper implementation of these 6 energy savings techniques.
1. “The whole-house systems approach”, U.S. Department of Energy