I love hearing people say they are making upgrades to their homes. An especially popular upgrade over the past couple of years is anything energy efficient. It is also a huge buzz word right now and like any good buzz word, some people don't understand exactly what that means. According to the website for Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the true definition of energy efficiency (as it relates to homes) is: "using less energy to provide the same service". Energy efficiency can come in the shape of a window or door, new appliances, lightbulbs or a water heater.
When people purchase these products, the assumption is that they will work miracles on the electric bill, the water bill, etc. Not the case if they aren't used properly. I was reading an article in March's issue of Builder magazine yesterday that illustrates my point perfectly. It read:
"...if home buyers select the most energy- efficient HVAC system, choose compact fluorescent lighting, and buy the highest-rated water heater, they will still need to use these products correctly in order to gain maximum benefit. Unfortunately, many consumers are not mindful of the fact that how and when they use the products affects the desired results."
The savings are all dependent upon what you do with these products. Like is the case with many things in life, our behavior dictates the end result. If your lights stay on all day long everyday, those CFLs aren't going to help your electric bill. Energy efficiency is a combination of wise purchases and small behavior changes. It was always instilled in me as a child that when you leave a room, you turn out the light, so this isn't as hard for me to adopt as it might be for others. On the other hand, I am the world's worst about turning on the shower so it can warm up and then I brush my teeth and leave the shower running for too long before I finally get in. Thus wasting a good amount of hot water. For others this may not be an issue.
Don't get me wrong, these upgrades are a great thing! My goal is just to educate people a little deeper so that they may be prepared for the changes that have to occur to reap the benefits of their new purchases.
Happy energy saving!