Which Best Describes Energy-Efficient?

What is Energy Efficiency?

Energy efficiency simply refers to using less energy to perform the same task. For example, replacing an older incandescent light bulb with a LED light bulb that uses less electricity to produce the same amount of light is an energy efficiency improvement. Energy efficient products and technologies allow us to reduce energy waste and get more useful output from each unit of energy input.

Some common examples of energy efficient products and technologies include:

  • LED light bulbs
  • Insulated windows and doors
  • High efficiency furnaces and air conditioners
  • Hybrid and electric vehicles
  • Energy Star certified appliances
  • Low flow faucets and showerheads
  • Added insulation in walls, ceilings and attics
  • Smart thermostats
  • Timer and motion sensor lights

By upgrading to more energy efficient products when older appliances and equipment need replacing, homeowners and businesses can reduce their energy usage and costs over time. Energy efficiency improvements also benefit the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Benefits of Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency provides numerous benefits for households, businesses, and the environment. Some key benefits are:

  • Saves money on utility bills – Using less energy directly translates into lower electricity, heating, and cooling bills. Energy efficient appliances, lighting, HVAC systems, and building materials can significantly cut energy costs over time.
  • Reduces energy waste – Energy efficiency minimizes excessive or unnecessary energy use. Simple behavioral changes and technology upgrades prevent energy from being lost or wasted.
  • Lowers carbon footprint – Since less fossil fuel energy is required, energy efficiency results in reduced greenhouse gas emissions. This lessens the carbon footprint for homes, businesses, and across entire communities.

Energy Efficient Home Appliances

Some of the easiest ways to make your home more energy efficient are to upgrade to ENERGY STAR certified appliances. ENERGY STAR is a program from the EPA and Department of Energy that labels energy efficient products that meet strict efficiency guidelines.

When shopping for home appliances like refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines, and more, look for the ENERGY STAR label. ENERGY STAR certified appliances incorporate advanced technologies to use 10-50% less energy and water than standard models. For example, ENERGY STAR refrigerators have more precise temperature and defrost mechanisms, as well as more insulation and tighter door seals to prevent cool air from escaping.

ENERGY STAR dishwashers use improved wash systems and heat recovery technology to reduce water usage. They also have sensors to adjust the wash cycle based on the size and dirtiness of the load. Similar sensor technology in ENERGY STAR washing machines allows them to perfectly calibrate the amount of water needed.

Beyond saving energy directly, ENERGY STAR appliances also produce less excess heat, reducing the burden on home cooling systems. The advanced controls on ENERGY STAR models also allow homeowners to better manage when energy is used through delay start functions and cycles optimized for off-peak energy hours.

With their increased efficiency and performance, ENERGY STAR certified appliances can help households cut their energy bills significantly, while also reducing environmental impact. They are a simple way to get started with energy efficiency upgrades for the home.

Energy Efficient Lighting

Using energy efficient lighting is one of the easiest ways to reduce energy consumption in your home or business. There are several types of energy efficient lighting to consider:

LED Bulbs

LED bulbs use up to 80% less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and last 25 times longer. They come in all shapes and sizes for any fixture. LEDs cost more upfront but save money in the long run.

Natural Lighting

Taking advantage of natural sunlight during the day reduces the need for artificial lighting. Installing larger windows or skylights can help maximize natural light. Using lighter paint colors also makes the most of ambient light.

Motion Sensor Lights

Outdoor motion sensor lights and indoor occupancy sensors automatically turn off when not in use. This prevents lights from being left on accidentally. Look for these automated options for exterior lighting and closets, bathrooms or hallways.

Energy Efficient Building Design

There are several ways to design buildings to be more energy efficient. This includes strategies like high-performance insulation, energy efficient windows, and passive solar design.

Insulation – A key factor in energy efficient building design is proper insulation. This includes insulating walls, ceilings, floors, basements and crawl spaces. High-performance insulation materials like cellulose, rigid foam boards, and spray foam can drastically reduce heat loss in winter and heat gain in summer.

Windows – Windows can be a major source of energy loss in homes. Energy efficient windows like double or triple pane windows with low-emissivity coatings, argon gas fills and insulated spacers can provide excellent insulation. Strategically placing windows to maximize sunlight in winter but minimize direct sun in summer also helps.

Passive Solar Design – Passive solar design takes advantage of sunlight’s heating and lighting abilities through building orientation, window placement, thermal mass, and overhangs. Facing windows towards the south lets in more winter sun but less summer sun due to overhangs. Materials like concrete floors can store heat from the sun during the day and release it slowly at night.

Energy Efficient Transportation

Transportation accounts for a significant portion of energy consumption. There are various ways to improve the energy efficiency of transportation methods.

Fuel Efficient Vehicles

fuel efficiency label on a car window.

Driving fuel efficient vehicles, such as electric cars or hybrids, can dramatically reduce gasoline consumption and emissions. Electric vehicles run off electricity rather than gas and hybrids maximize gas mileage through regenerative braking and electric motor assists. Consumers should consider fuel efficiency ratings when purchasing new vehicles.

Public Transportation

Using public transportation like buses, trains, and subways is more energy efficient than individuals driving their own vehicles. Public transit effectively consolidates transportation needs to reduce overall fuel usage. Governments can promote energy savings by expanding access to quality public transportation options.

Biking and Walking

For short distances, biking and walking are the most energy efficient transportation methods. They produce zero direct emissions. Urban planning that encourages pedestrian and bike friendly options, like sidewalks, bike lanes, and trails, enables cleaner personal transportation choices.

Energy Efficient Business Practices

Businesses can implement a number of strategies to improve their energy efficiency and reduce costs. Some key ways for businesses to increase energy efficiency include:

Equipment Upgrades

Upgrading old and inefficient equipment to more energy efficient models can significantly reduce energy usage. This includes upgrades to lighting, HVAC systems, appliances, motors, and commercial cooking equipment. Energy efficient equipment may have a higher upfront cost but will pay back over time through energy savings.


Automating equipment and processes allows businesses to optimize energy usage. This includes automating lighting, HVAC temperature settings, and production operations. Automation ensures that equipment runs only when needed instead of constantly wasting energy.


Allowing employees to work remotely reduces the energy needed to power office spaces. With more employees telecommuting, businesses can downsize office space which saves on lighting, heating, and cooling demands. Telecommuting also reduces transportation costs and emissions from employee commuting.

Energy Efficient Manufacturing

Manufacturing facilities can achieve major energy efficiency improvements and cost savings by focusing on efficient equipment and optimizing processes. Some key ways manufacturers can improve energy efficiency include:

Efficient Motors, Pumps and Compressors

Replacing older motors, pumps and compressors with more energy efficient models can provide significant electricity savings. Motors account for about two-thirds of manufacturing electricity use, so upgrading to premium efficiency motors often has a quick payback period.

Using variable speed drives to better match motor speed to load requirements can also reduce energy use. Optimizing pump and compressor systems through preventive maintenance and rightsizing for current needs can further improve efficiency.

Waste Heat Recovery

Capturing waste heat from hot exhaust streams, boilers and other sources and using it for heating or generating power can greatly improve overall energy efficiency. Common waste heat recovery systems include economizers, recuperators, regenerators and heat exchangers.

Process Optimization

A thorough review of manufacturing processes can identify opportunities to optimize equipment, heating, cooling, lighting and other systems. This may involve adjusting process controls, modifying equipment configurations, improving scheduling and sequencing, and other innovations to increase production efficiency.

Taking a systems approach allows manufacturers to understand interactions between process steps and identify the best areas to target for maximum energy savings.

Government Energy Efficiency Programs

Governments at the federal, state, and local levels offer a variety of programs to promote and incentivize energy efficiency.

Rebates and Tax Incentives

Many utilities and governments provide rebates and tax credits for purchasing energy efficient appliances, lighting, HVAC systems, insulation, windows, and other upgrades. For example, there are federal tax credits for buying an electric vehicle or installing solar panels. Local utilities may give rebates for buying an ENERGY STAR certified refrigerator or washing machine.

Building Codes

Governments set minimum energy standards through building codes and regulations. For commercial buildings, there are often requirements for efficient lighting, HVAC, water heating systems, insulation, windows, and other features. Residential building codes also promote efficiency through insulation, window, and lighting standards.

Appliance Standards

The federal government sets minimum energy efficiency standards for common household and commercial appliances and equipment. Items like refrigerators, clothes washers, air conditioners, furnaces, boilers, and water heaters must meet certain energy performance criteria. These standards eliminate the least efficient models from the market.

How to Improve Energy Efficiency

There are many ways homes and businesses can improve their energy efficiency. Some tips include:

Tips for Homes

At home, try doing an energy audit to find areas for improvement. Ensure your home is properly insulated and seal any leaks around windows or doors. Upgrade to ENERGY STAR certified appliances and lighting. Use a programmable thermostat to control heating and cooling. Improve your water heater’s insulation and lower the temperature. Wash clothes in cold water and air dry when possible.

Tips for Businesses

For businesses, replace old equipment with energy efficient models. Install lighting sensors and upgrade to LED bulbs. Improve HVAC efficiency with a building automation system. Encourage employees to turn off lights and equipment when not in use. Consider on-site renewable energy like solar panels. Look into earning ENERGY STAR certification for your building.

Behavior Changes

Changing behavior can also improve efficiency. Simple things like turning off lights, setting thermostats a few degrees higher/lower, using microwaves instead of ovens, and line drying clothes can make a difference. Drive less and consider public transportation, walking, or biking. Unplug devices when not in use to avoid phantom load.

Emerging Technologies

New technologies are making homes and buildings more efficient. Smart home devices can automate and optimize energy use. Improved insulation materials and windows prevent heat loss. Heat pump water heaters provide hot water efficiently. Smart glass can tint windows to block sunlight. Using technology alongside behavior change is key for improved efficiency.

Similar Posts