Making houses, schools and other buildings energy efficient (AND ENERGY ZERO)

 

Zero Energy BuildingsZero energy Homes, Schools and other buildings

Soon all new buildings will be energy zero.

California, the European Union, Japan and several Chinese jurisdictions have ambitious Zero Energy Building projects for the next decade.

Zero Energy Buildings are within our reach. They aren’t a distant or an expensive green dream. 

See:
Zero energy buildings
Passive Solar Houses

Houses and Other Buildings energy Consumption

Buildings waste a prodigious amount of energy.

America’s buildings consume more than 70% of the electricity and around 35% of the natural gas used in the country. They are the largest single contributor to CO2 and other harmful gas emissions.

The average American household spends more than $2.000 per year in electricity and gas - more than $100.000 over 50 years.

But it doesn't have to be this way. If you are building or buying a new home, you can reduce energy bills to a small fraction.

Low and zero energy buildings do not mean privation or less comfort.  On the contrary.

An Easy way to make Energy Savings in your House: efficient appliances

Domestic appliances and electronics consume about 40-50% of the average household electricity consumption. A lot, indeed!

But new efficient refrigerators and freezers can cut refrigeration costs by as much as 50% or more. And the same is true for clothes dryers, dishwashers or clothes washers…

See: Energy Efficient Appliances and Electronics

Super-Insulation and Air-Tightness

Smart home design and very high levels of insulation and air sealing are key to reduce residential energy consumption and improve thermal comfort.

See:
Insulation Guide for home energy improvement
Home Air Sealing Guide

Buildings energy consumption in the US:
about 80% of the electricity and 35% of the Gas

Buildings and climate change

Many dozens of infographics here

Ideas for energy efficiency ideas

In new construction and large scale renovations consider:

- smart house design and proper, orientation, size, shape and layout;
- high levels of insulation and airtightness;,
- high-efficient windows and exterior doors,
- energy efficient appliances and electronics,
- energy-efficient lighting,

See: New Houses guidelines

"Small" home energy improvements:

- metallic window films;
- small sealing and insulation projects;
- zoning and thermostats
- energy efficient appliances and electronics
- switch off or unplug electronics and appliances as much as possible;
- new energy efficient lights,
- low-flow rate faucets and shower head,
- strategies involving ceiling fans and the settings of air conditioners.

most fundamental principle of home energy efficiency

We don’t need super-smart houses or technological breakthroughs to dramatically reduce our energy consumption and to minimize energy waste.

See:
The Golden Rule For House Energy Improvements

30 Misconceptions about House Energy Improvements
20 Commandments for Home Energy Improvements
Design, Architecture & House Construction
Working and finding construction professionals
First Priorities When Building a New House or Making a Big Renovation

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House-Energy savings estimation tool

Want to know how much energy you can save by using new energy efficient appliances, new lighting bulbs, new windows and exterior doors, higher levels of insulation, metallic window films, ceiling fans and more... much more?

See: Energy Savings Estimation Tool

Family expenditure in energy New Houses, Schools and other buildings have to be more energy efficient

Building codes have failed – and are still failing – to provide guidance for very energy efficient homes and Zero Energy Houses.

Energy auditors often complain about homeowners: “We go back to the same houses, and make the same recommendations that are never implemented”.

See:
House Energy book: 101 Ideas to Improve your New Home
New Houses Guide
Tell your Mayor that you Support Green Building
Rating your City Green Building Programs
Cities with Great Green Building Programs

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House design: do not compromise

If building a new house, consider carefully its siting and shape, and its orientation to the sun. .

Wrong decisions will make your home less comfortable and less energy-efficient.

Also consider carefully the size of the house. Homes should be modest in size to be energy-efficient; large buildings are difficult to heat and to cool. If possible, keep the size of your home around 2,000 square feet or less.

See: 
House Orientation, Shape

House Siting and Size for Energy Savings

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hot climates & Cooling

If you live in a hot climate shade your window and walls as much as possible (and the ground around your house). Use trees and shrubs and also devices like awnings, shades and pergolas.

Shade and natural ventilation are key elements for energy savings. Consider breezes and outside fresh air to cool your house. Open your windows to breezes and use ventilation fans and whole-house fans to bring outside fresh air into your home.

See:
Natural Cooling Guide
Cooling with Shade
Cooling with Ventilation
Solar Heat Gains Control

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Saving energy with Ceiling Fans and Air Conditioners. They Can Work in Conjunction

Ceiling fans and air conditioners cool by distinctly different methods. But they can work in conjunction.

Each one degree increase (Fº) in the thermostat setting can decrease your air conditioner bills by, say, 5%. And ceiling fans make that possible.

See: Ceiling Fans with AC

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You May Not Need (Central) Air Conditioners

Central air conditioners are expensive to install and to run.

You can greatly reduce your cooling bills by using very energy efficient windows, shading devices (overhangs, porches; awnings, blinds, shades, shutters), tree-shade and high levels of attic and roof insulation...

See:
Air Conditioners Guide
Air Conditioners Alternatives

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energy savings: Pay attention to electronic devices in Standby and Idle Mode.

Top energy wasters in our homes may be hidden or go unnoticed. Many home appliances have surprisingly high energy costs. Be aware.

Pay attention to refrigerators, clothes washers and other domestic appliances. But do not forget vacuum cleaners, personal computers, printers, routers and mobile telephone chargers and telephone answering machines; or CD players, video game consoles, grills, electric ice-cream makers, electric bread makers, electric juice extractors, electric knifes, electric egg boilers, electric toasters, coffee machines, hair-dryers, electric toothbrushes, electric razors, electrically powered towel rails, electric blankets, electric and more, much more…

That’s just a part of a much larger list.

See: House Electronics

Infographics and Videos

We have dozens of illustrated stories and high quality infographics on green building that you can use freely on your site or blog. See their list here: Stories/Images List. For videos see here.

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Saving energy in our homes with Heat Pumps: Electric Heating and Cooling

Heat pumps provide both heating and cooling at lower prices that other electric equipment.

They are a reliable technology, excellent for moderate climates. But which is their role in efficient homes, in cold climates?

See: Heat Pumps Guide

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House Heating Savings & Furnaces Systems

A small furnace, properly installed and with a short and straight duct system, can provide significant energy savings.

That's a good choice for cold climates, in large buildings with conventional levels of insulation and airtightness. But furnaces aren't the ideal heating system for zero energy houses..

See: Furnaces Guide

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Fireplace heating

Fireplaces Are Unhealthy and 90% of the Heat Goes Up Through the Chimney

There are dozens of millions of homes with fireplaces worldwide. Unfortunately they heat too little and they emit dangerous pollutants.

As the American Lung Association puts it: "Burning wood emits harmful toxins and fine particles in the air that can worsen breathing problems and lead to heart and lung disease and even early death"

See: Fireplaces and Heating Stoves Guide

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high efficient Windows & Tubular Skylights

Windows are a weak link in the thermal envelope of any house. They are responsible for many thousands of dollars in energy costs, during their lifetime, in average homes.

As to skylights, they can be great for natural lighting, but they can also increase your energy bills by hundreds of dollars, every year. Don't be fooled by dreams of beautiful views at the top of your rooms.

See:
Windows & House Energy Efficiency
Skylights Guide

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Lighting Savings of About 75%

Lighting accounts for about 5%-10% of residential energy bills. In the USA that amounts to $100-$200 per year/household...

But it's not difficult to reduce lighting consumption. New efficient light bulbs and fixtures combined with simple strategies, can easily cut home lighting bills in half or more.

See:
Lighting Guide

Outdoor Lighting Guide

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Buying a New Energy Efficient House

Energy Star certified houses (EUA, Canada), 6-10 Star homes (Australia) and European homes with a A or B energy performance certification can provide significant energy savings. But they fall short of the best.

See: Buying a House
See: House Energy Audits

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energy savings: Electric vs. Gas Small Heaters

See: Small Electric and Gas Heaters Guide

 

Solar energy for our Buildings

Solar water heating is now part of millions of homes worldwide. On the other hand, much of the future of our planet relies largely on photovoltaic systems... 

See: Residential Solar Guide

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Selecting a Water Heating System

Water heating bills amount to $300 to $450 per year in most households. Water heating is one of our biggest energy expenses.

There are several types of water heaters to choose from: 1) Solar… 2) Gas tankless (condensing and regular); 3) Gas storage (condensing and regular); 4) Electric; 5) Integrated heating-water systems.

See: Water Heating Guide

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Energy-Efficient Exterior Doors

Consider energy efficient exterior doors.

Be careful with metal and patio glass doors. They are affordable and may look nice, but that comes at a high cost. They are a major source of heat loss and gain.

See: Doors Guide

Be Aware of Leaky and Un-Insulated Ducts  

That hidden and unnoticed network of tubes in the walls, ceilings or floors, carrying the air from your home’s furnace or heat pump or AC to the several rooms, can be a big energy waster.

Leaky and un-insulated ducts can add hundreds of dollars to energy bills.

See: Home Ducts Guide

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Home Moisture Problems

Keep excess moisture out of your home. Moisture is a leading cause of damage in homes, and also of higher energy bills and serious health hazards.

See: Home Moisture Guide

Roofs and Attics

The key job of a roof is to keep water out. Roofs can’t ever be a significant source of useful heat gains. 

See:
Roofs Guide

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Walls guide for energy savings

Walls need insulation. Without it, heat will flow to the outside through the materials they are made from. Wood, steel, concrete and other construction materials do not impede heat flow.

See: Walls Guide for Home Energy Improvement

Floors & Flooring

When building or renovating a home, when it comes to floors, people generally think of floor coverings or radiant floor heating…

Mmost homeowners and builders do not recognize the importance of floors for house energy savings and they end up with buildings that are expensive to heat and cool.

See:
Floors & House energy efficiency
Flooring Guide

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House design and Efficiency & Basements

If you are going to build a new home, unless you are building on a small lot or confronted with height restrictions, and unless you do need below-grade space, a slab-on-grade foundation is a better choice than basements (or crawlspaces).

See: Basements Guide

Do Not Forget your Yard and your Pool

A single gas-powered leaf blower can emit as much pollution in one hour as dozens of cars operating for the same period of time. And typical gas mowers are responsible for about 5% of the world’s pollution, which is awesome.

Pay attention to your yard equipment efficiency, and also to your pool, if you have one. 

See:
Swimming Pools Energy Improvement
Energy Efficient Yards

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energy improvements Are a Powerful Tool For Creating a Better Environment

Residential energy efficiency is a powerful means for creating a better environment and a better world.

See:
Energy Improvements & Environment
The 2 sides of: CO2 and Home Energy Consumption
Passive Solar Guide
Residential Solar Photovoltaic
Solar Water Heaters Guide
Room Space Heating with Solar
Small Wind Systems Guide
Small Hydro Systems Guide
Green Electricity Guide

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Landscaping for House Energy Efficiency

The landscape around your house is not just about privacy and good looks; it has also a great impact on your comfort and energy consumption.

See: Landscaping for House Energy Efficiency

Solar Kit for water heating
Save Energy, Save Money... Find the best ways for Home Energy Efficiency with us…

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