According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), buildings in the United States account for 39 percent of total energy use, 68 percent of total electricity consumption, and 38 percent of nationwide carbon dioxide emissions.
These are staggeringly high numbers considering that there are already many solutions in the market that can turn commercial buildings and private homes into energy-efficient properties.
And with recent developments in the fight against climate change, which is mainly caused by carbon emissions (otherwise known as one of the “greenhouse gases”), more and more politicians and everyday people are becoming aware of the urgent need to use energy resources wisely and, ultimately, cut down on carbon emissions and energy use as a whole.
Many people, however, get overwhelmed when thinking about how they could help reverse the effects of climate change on an entire planet; but every little decision to become more energy-efficient makes a difference and has an impact on the environment. Here’s how:
Energy Saving Techniques
Home owners across the country – even those of older buildings – have many techniques at their disposal to turn their properties into “green” buildings. This can be accomplished in any number of ways, but some of the most affordable techniques include:
- Upgrade lighting – Instead of purchasing traditional incandescent light bulbs, you could switch to Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) and Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs), which not only require much less electricity, but also have a longer life cycle and come in many different tones and colors.
- Invest into energy-efficient appliances – This includes major appliances like your refrigerator, washer, dryer, dishwasher, and television. All of those devices are now available in models that have been certified by the EPA as energy-efficient, which you will be able to confirm when you see an “Energy Star” label on the packaging.
- Sufficiently insulate your home – “Sufficiently” means insulating your home at a level that meets the latest recommendations by the U.S. Department of Energy. Proper insulation (e.g. in the attic, crawl spaces, and sidewalls) affects almost all energy aspects of your home as it contributes to controlling and maintaining temperatures as well as air flow in a considerable way.
“By adopting green building strategies, we can maximize both economic and environmental performance,” the EPA confirms in an official statement. “Green construction methods can be integrated into buildings at any stage, from design and construction, to renovation and deconstruction… Green buildings are designed to reduce the overall impact of the built environment on human health and the natural environment.”
Let’s take a look at the two-fold impact of lighting for example. Not only does energy-efficient lighting require less electricity, which in turn reduces carbon emissions of polluting power plants, but the materials used to manufacture older models of lamps and light bulbs often times include components that are toxic to the environment, such as mercury. (The use of LED’s addresses both of those concerns by providing an energy-efficient solution without using any mercury.)
As with lighting, high-energy appliances increase the output of carbon emissions and other waste resulting from the operation of power plants, which leads to increased amounts of toxic waste, air pollution, and water pollution.
Another increase of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere is caused during the burning of fossil fuels – e.g. coal, oil and gas – when people heat and cool their homes. This is why sufficient insulation, to maintain temperatures over longer periods of time without constantly having to “refuel,” is so important when it comes to protecting environment.
Environmental, Economic, and Social Benefits
In addition to the impacts described above, the EPA reports that energy-efficient homes also enhance and protect biodiversity and ecosystems, conserve and restore natural resources, reduce waste streams, and improve air and water quality.
If that is not enough of a reason for consumers to consider investing into energy-efficient solutions, it might help to point out that “energy savers” in their homes will not only enhance occupants’ comfort and health, but also reduce short- and long-term operating costs (aka “utility bills”) and, according to the EPA, “improve occupant productivity and overall quality of life.”
To take advantage of all of those benefits, check out Homeselfe’s mobile app, which creates a digital mock-up of your home and guides you through key areas that might be wasting energy. This will help you make decisions more confidently as you transition to an energy-efficient home.