Creating energy is a complex and surprisingly inefficient process. This process is especially inefficient when we use fossil fuels to generate electricity like natural gas and coal. When these fossil fuels are burned, large amounts of heat energy is lost. We then send electricity through miles of cables where further losses occur. This means that when you save 1kw of energy in your homes, you’re actually saving three or four; now that’s a great return on investment.
The US only manages about 32% efficiency from its energy generation because much of it comes from coal and natural gas. For example, in 2010, 39.49 quadrillion BTUs worth of energy went into electricity generation, but only about 12.71 quadrillion BTUs were delivered. This is about a three to one ratio. That means that every kilowatt of energy saved in the US, you’re actually saving 3 or 4.
Saving energy has knock-on effects like reducing the level of greenhouse gas emissions as well as the harmful effects of coal and natural gas mining on the environment.
Here in Canada, the situation is….
There are a myriad ways in which you can help to save energy. Switching to energy efficient light bulbs and Energy Star appliances is a great start.
The Earthworks Group estimates that the average home has enough cracks and holes to add up to a 9 square foot hole in the wall. Calking holes in your building envelope and sealing cracks around doors and windows can make a huge difference to your heating and cooling costs.
Check your furnace and HVAC systems to ensure that they are operating at maximum efficiency and that all filters are clean and vents are clear of obstruction.
Structural changes like raised heel trusses in roof systems allow you to increase the amount of insulation in your attic. This vastly reduces heating and cooling costs and improves your energy efficiency.
If you are building a new home, then ICFs are the way to go. These incredibly robust wall and flooring structures make your home super energy efficient.