20 Commandments for home energy improvements

Our buildings consume a huge amount of energy. Directly or indirectly, at a world scale, buildings produce more CO2 emissions than the industry and the transportation sectors. But it doesn't have to be this way.


1 Keep the Size of Your New Home Modest

There is no surer way to squander energy than by constructing a large home.

See: Home Size

2 Consider the Right Siting, Shape and Orientation for Your HOme

In new construction consider carefully the siting of the house, and pay attention to features like the landscape and the orientation to the sun, wind and breezes. Do not compromise on these principles.

See: Home orientation, Shape and Siting

3 Be Aware to Home Design

Elements such as the shape of the house, its layout, the size and location of the windows, or overhangs are critical to reduce energy consumption to a minimum…

Overhangs and Shading

4 Improve the Landscape Around your House

Trees and shrubs can redirect the winds away from your home, or bring breezes into it, or shade your roofs, walls and windows, or block unwanted sunlight, making your home and your yard more comfortable. 

See: Landscaping for Low-Energy Homes

5 Size the Windows Properly

You should not oversize your windows.

High Performance Windows Guide
Skylights Guide

6 Windows: Choose the Right Glazing and Frame

Windows are a weak link in the thermal envelope of any house. They can be responsible for many thousands of dollars in energy costs, during their lifetime. To prevent it, you have to choose the right type of windows, taking into account your climate.

Windows Guide for Energy Improvements

7 Consider Window Films in Hot Climates

In existing homes, with low-performance windows, consider sun reflective window films. They are great to reduce solar heat gains and glare, especially in hot climates. 

See: Window Reflective Films

8 Keep the Heat Inside (or Outside)

In cold climates, keep the heat inside your home by using very high levels of air-tightness and insulation, and high-performance windows.

In hot climates (and during hot weather) keep the heat outside, using insulation, shade and natural cooling strategies.

Natural Cooling Guide
Furnaces Efficiency
Boilers And Hydronic Systems
Small Heaters Guide
Heat Pumps Guide

9 Control Solar Heat Gains and Consider Alternatives to Air Conditioning

Eliminate most of the solar heat gains to which your home is subject, and its internal heat sources (coming from lighting, baths, laundry, ovens and other appliances), and you may not need air conditioning.

There are several cooling strategies that can be used to reduce or replace traditional AC, especially in new construction.

Heat Gains Control

Natural Cooling Guide

10 Consider New Wall Materials and Very High Wall Insulation

Walls need high levels of insulation, especially in cold climates. That's critical for comfort and energy savings.

See: Energy-efficient Walls

11 Do Not Forget the Attic and the Floor

Consider very high levels of attic insulation, but do not underestimate the insulation of the floor (unless you live in a hot climate). Many people do not recognize the importance of floors for energy savings, and they end up with homes that are expensive to heat and cool.

Floors & Energy Improvements
Attic Insulation

12 Avoid Central Heating As much as possible

A small furnace, properly installed, with a short and straight duct system, can provide significant energy savings, compared to traditional heating systems.

But there are better choices in very energy efficient homes.

See: Heating for Energy Improved Homes

13 Do Not Minimize Lighting Costs

Lighting accounts for about 5%-10% of our energy bills. But it's not difficult to reduce lighting bills. New low-energy light bulbs and fixtures combined with simple strategies can easily cut lighting bills in half or more.

Use new energy efficent bulbs and lighting fixtures.

See: Home Energy Improvement Lighting Guide

14 Before Buying a House, Demand an Energy Audit

Prospective home buyers rarely ask for an energy audit, which may end up costing them dozens of thousands of dollars over the lifetime of their homes.

See: Energy Audits

15 Consider Solar Water Heaters

Solar water heaters involve a tested and reliable technology, very effective in moderate and hot climates.

See: Solar Water Heating

16 Keep an Eye on Outdoor Lighting, Pools and Garden Machines

Inefficient outdoor lighting, residential swimming pools and garden machines can be responsible for high energy bills. Mowers alone are responsible for about 5% of the world’s pollution, which is awesome.

Outdoor Lighting
Swimming Pools Energy Improvements
Garden and Yard Equipment 

17 Your Appliances Can be Huge Energy Wasters

Refrigerators and clothes washers and other appliances are energy-intensive machines. Replacing old units can provide significant energy savings; technology has improved, and new energy-efficient machines use a fraction of the energy.

See: Residential Appliances Efficiency Guide

18 Be Aware to the Energy Consumption of Your Electronics

Do not forget the energy consumption of electronics. See for instance the answering machines. They use energy 24 hours a day, seven days a week, which means dozens of dollars per year. Replacing all the US answering machines with voice mail services would provide annual energy savings of about 2 billion kilowatt-hours.

Unfortunately, it’s not just answering machines. Modern homes have hundreds of gadgets and electronics, some of which are as energy intensive as answering machines, or plasma TVs. And though most aren't, their great numbers, make them an important factor of residential energy consumption.

See: Home Electronics Energy Performance

19 Installing or Leasing Solar PV Systems

Solar electricity is already competitive with fuel generation in many countries. In the US, a 5 kW PV system may cost, say, $20.000 and can be installed by a leasing company, with no upfront costs.

PV photovoltaics

20 In Large Homes Consider Zoning & Thermostats

Thermostats and room-by-room heating and cooling (zoning) can provide significant energy savings in homes with low or conventional levels of insulation, in harsh climates.

Zoning Guide
Thermostats for Home Energy Improvements

infographic house energyIllustrated Short Stories and Infographcis on Energy & Environment

Dozens of short illustrated stories and infographics about Energy & Environment that you can use in your blog or site freely.

See a list here: List of Energy & Green Infographics

See also:
30 Misconceptions about Home Energy Improveents
The Golden Rule of Home Energy Improvement




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