Energy Efficiency Basics

afdb5a_2759090e819545acb2d1d60e0a3be3ac.jpg_srz_p_299_263_75_22_0.50_1.20_0It is a good idea to improve energy and water efficiency in your building before investing in renewable energy or solar. Energy efficiency improvements typically have a short payback period, often less than five years, and they can reduce the size of solar system you will need and save you money. This makes your investment even even smarter.

An energy audit is the first step, to assess how much energy your home consumes and evaluate what measures you can take to make your home more energy efficient. By fixing identified problems you can save yourself significant amounts of money over time. The audit will help to pinpoint where your house is losing energy and help to determine the efficiency of your home’s heating and cooling systems. An audit may also show you ways to conserve hot water and electricity. You can perform a simple energy audit yourself, or have a professional energy auditor carry out a more thorough audit.

Saving energy and water provides benefits beyond the benefits. It also improves the home or business by making it more comfortable. Insulation keeps a building cool in the summer and warm in winter, and energy efficient appliances can decrease noise levels. Skylights and windows, preferably double- or triple-pane, also help bring in natural light and reduce the need for artificial lighting. Federal and state tax credits, utility rebates and weatherization assistance programs are widely available to help pay for energy efficiency improvements in homes and businesses.

LG&E-KU’s Save Energy, Save Money program offers a variety of residential and commercial programs, resources and tips to help its customers reduce their energy use, including home energy audits and commercial energy analyses for businesses, demand conservation, and home energy rebates. Other energy efficiency resources and tools can be found on the Resources page of this website.

Weatherization Assistance

One of the best ways to reduce the high cost of your energy bills for heating and cooling is to weatherize your home, apartment, or building. The U.S. government’s Weatherization Assistance Program is available to conduct home energy audits, and to weatherize your home. Weatherization costs an average of $2500, and the government will foot the bill. As a result, energy bills are cut, on average, by one-third, and can mean savings of hundreds of dollars a year. Most assistance is provided to low-income families, but some is available for higher-earning families. During the last 30 years, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Weatherization Assistance Program has provided weatherization services to more than 5.6 million low-income families. To learn more about this program please click to visit the DOE’s website.

The Profitability of Energy Efficiency Upgrades

According to a 1997 study by Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, application of ten common energy efficiency measures in a typical home yields nearly a 16% overall Return on Investment (ROI). In fact, the measures yield a higher return on investment than an ordinary bank account, and most are as or even more profitable than the stock market has been in recent history.

The efficiency savings shown included the effect of income taxes. This makes the savings even more attractive, because the homeowner or business can keep all of the money saved on energy bills, and has no taxes that would otherwise be paid on most ordinary investment income. Because the values shown are in 1997 dollars, return on investment percentages (ROI %) may have improved in some places as utility rates have increased while energy-saving measure costs have been reduced.

Source: Lawrence Berkeley National Labs