Thursday, January 8, 2009

Define your Shade – Energy Efficiency

Let’s begin by defining efficiency. This is a term that will surface throughout our discussion on green and understanding what it means will help facilitate more meaningful discussion.

Efficiency is a measurement of the amount of output given a certain amount of input. To increase efficiency, you must find a way to do more with less. All of us know we have 24 hours each day with which to live our lives. Some days we are very efficient and accomplish a great deal of work or output. Other days, we sit on the couch, watch the ballgame and accomplish very little. Both days had the same input, 24 hours, but one day was filled with work and the other was not. Organizational tools can increase our efficiency as well.

In terms of energy efficiency, there is a fair amount of debate as to what truly defines energy efficiency and how can you do the same tasks using less electricity. Don’t confuse efficiency with conservation. Conservation is the act of turning things off or just not using electricity. Important, but not the discussion today. Conservation suggests you live without something, no lights, no water, and no additional features. Efficiency is doing the same things you have always done, only use less. An example is driving an inefficient car less or driving a hybrid vehicle, conservation and efficiency, respectively.

Replacing incandescent lighting is one-way builders can increase the efficiency of their home. High efficacy lighting still provides light, and in most cases the same light, using a lot less electricity. Energy Star rated appliances still allow the consumer to wash clothing, refrigerate food, and clean the dishes. The appliances work, for the most part, like any other inefficient model. The savings comes by completing the same task with less.

A big obstacle many builders face in selling green is the idea that it requires you to sacrifice (or conserve) the comforts you are accustomed to having in your home. Some choose to take efficiency to that level, but others choose better items for their home. The follow list is examples of energy efficient features:

  • High Efficacy Lighting (Fluorescent or LED lighting)
  • Higher R-value Insulation
  • Housewrap
  • ENERGY STAR Appliances/Furnace/Windows
  • Sealants, Weatherstripping and Caulks to reduces leaks
  • Dimmers and Sensors for Lighting
  • Geo-Thermal Heat
As builders, a number of options are available to meet the requirements of a green program. Consumers can rest assured knowing there are options and if one product does not meet their needs, there are alternatives to ensure an energy efficient home without compromising your lifestyle.

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