Energy Efficiency

OVERVIEW

Our buildings consume more energy than industry or transportation, and we haven’t done a great job of reducing that consumption. We can do better by:

  • monitoring energy use

  • improving building commissioning

  • applying insights from building science

  • selecting innovative HVAC and building envelope technology

  • using natural ventilation and daylighting to provide low-cost alternatives to standard systems

As great as all these ideas are, they won’t be nearly as effective if we don’t engage occupants about energy use as well. Our articles look at all these strategies and more.

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  • Post-Occupancy Evaluations: Ignorance Isn't Bliss

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    POEs tell you everything you ever wanted to know about your buildings. Don't be afraid to ask.

  • Heat-Pump Water Heaters

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    Heat-pump water heaters produce more than twice as much hot water per kilowatt-hour of electricity consumed as standard electric water heaters.

  • The Water-Energy Connection

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    The production of electricity is highly water intense, just as the transport, heating, and cooling of water is energy intense. So saving energy saves water and saving water saves energy.

  • Tankless Water Heaters

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    Tankless water heaters have some downsides, but mostly offer advantages over conventional storage water heaters.

  • Comparing Fuel Costs

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    One would think comparing the costs of different heating fuels would be simple, but figuring out the amount heat available in a given quantity of fuel-and the associated cost-can be tricky.

  • How the Sun's Path Can Inform Design

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    Designing a building with the sun in mind can help reduce both heating and cooling loads.

  • Solar Reflectance Index and Cool Roofs

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    Understanding reflectivity and emissivity of roofing materials is important to evaluating their effect on cooling loads and the urban heat island effect.

  • Energy Metrics: Btus, Watts, and Kilowatt-Hours

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    Mixing units of electric power with those of energy is a common mistake, but distiguishing kilowatts from kilowatt-hours is not that complicated, and is worth getting straight.

  • Thermal Mass: What It Is and When It Improves Comfort

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    Heavy or massive objects like masonry can help improve thermal comfort, if used properly. They often don't insulate well, however.