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Home Energy Systems’ Efficiency Designing

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Kimberly McKenzie-Klemm's picture
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  • Jul 27, 2022
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This item is part of the Energy Efficiency - July 2022 SPECIAL ISSUE, click here for more

Home energy systems’ designs use a variety of sustainable energy choices to ensure efficiencies, cut costs, and supply energy grid network participants or independent energy system users with quality service. While looking into energy system decisions for the home, upgrading an already existing functional home energy system appeals more to consumers than redesigning already existing home dependencies and energy grid network integrations. Homeowners often bow to neighborhood inclusion of energy services. They need to be aware of the possibilities of energy system efficiencies’ adaptations available to apply to their home energy system without rejecting their current energy system supports.

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Four types of energy systems commonly found in homes both on-grid and off-grid, in order of frequency used,1 include:

          1) Electricity

          2) Natural Gas

          3) Petroleum

          4) Renewable Energy Sourcing

Electricity, natural gas, and petroleum are commonly sold to the homeowner end user by charging for the energy consumption instead of holding the consumer responsible for buying the entire home energy system. This does not mean the home energy end user cannot take measures to add efficiency assists to home energy system designs. These measures can be determined by evaluating on-grid operational requirements in established home energy systems or by building-in expectation efficiencies at the ground level, pre-use stage of off-grid or on-grid home energy system selection.

Redesigning the costs of home energy systems for efficiency might require an initial investment targeting the consumer wallet, but these options pay off more in efficiency dividends over time. “Completing a home or building energy evaluation, also known as an energy audit or assessment, is a wise first step to assess the ways in which your home or building consumes energy.”2 This recommendation is best followed for existing on-grid customers. Renewable energy system based homes usually have owners savvy enough to request an upfront efficiency evaluation performed when first establishing the home energy use needs. Off-grid home energy systems are thought of as less costly and more efficient than traditional home energy systems. On-grid improvements have closed the gap on efficiences through programs such as electric energy use hour buybacks and lower kilowatt (kWh) operational peak hours’ adapters.   

Embracing changes to home energy systems for energy efficiencies does not have to be difficult or dramatic. Simple measures such as insulation installation, air tight door and window seals, and water heating air pumps are less costly than energy efficiency system redesigns like adding solar panels and renovating a home to rely fully on hybrid energy system decisions. (For example: hydroelectric/thermal, solar/wind, etc.)  Although energy efficiency upgrades pull from an initial investment, “...savings in the first year and half will likely net back your investment.”3 Results of upgrading home energy system efficiencies are not only lower monthly heating and cooling bills. There are added benefits. Property values increase; waste decreases resulting in cleaner environmental air and less electrical “leaking” repairs; and energy efficiency measures can bring longer lasting usage of appliances and household staples such as light bulbs.

Whatever home energy system efficiency measures a homeowner decides to implement, the key to living “energy wise” is to balance energy efficiency projects with actual returns. This can be achieved regardless of the type of home energy system in use. Upgrading home energy systems to provide further efficiencies demands carefull research and seeking positive changes the home owner feels comfortable about accepting. Weigh the differences of smaller energy system efficiency alterations for the home against a complete energy system redesign using cost criteria, environment impact expectations, and required frequency of upkeep or monitoring. On-grid energy customers can resource through their energy or electricity provider. Off-grid homeowners might have to search a bit harder for their options. Although the effects of home energy system efficiency upgrades and redesigns may not be too noticeable, the returns are worth some consideration.

References:

  1. U.S. Energy Information Administration. “Residential Energy Consumption Survey 2015.” (Updated: June 14, 2021).
  2. U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “Why Energy Efficiency Upgrades.” (2022). https://www.energy.gov/eere/why-energy-efficiency-upgrades
  3. Herron, J. “6 energy-efficient home upgrades that can save you $1,000 a year.” USA Today. (January 24, 2019). https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2019/01/24/energy-efficient-home-easy-upgrades-save-money/2642905002/
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