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Seeing how individual parts of a building works will lead to a better understanding on how each system interacts as a whole.
The Air Barrier is made up of many different components which separate the living space from outside. Uncontrolled movement of air, moisture, and heat has a significant impact energy use in the home as well as a lower quality of air inside the home.
While the Air Barrier primarily stops uncontrolled air movement, insulation is the primary defense when it comes to unwanted heat movement. Properly installed insulation will limit the unwanted transfer of heat whether it be heat escaping in the winter, or heat entering during the summer.
Windows provide a nice view from inside the home as well as provide natural lighting when the conditions are right outside. Although windows don't have room for the standard insulation, advancements in technology allow for windows, or any fenestration, to have insulated glass that slows down unwanted thermal transfer down to a halt.
Although a small portion, lighting control habits may play a role in how much energy is used in a home. Newer automatic lighting controls play a role with saving energy, without breaking a habit.
Joint Appendix JA8 outlines the requirements for Light Sources to meet compliance with the Building Energy Efficiency Standards Section 150.0(k). Light sources MUST be tested by a certified test lab to meet compliance.
Recessed lighting may look nice, but improper installation, or having the improper rating may affect your building shell, allowing unwanted air to move through the fixture. Some fixtures are also not rated to have contact with insulation, creating a gap in the thermal barrier. Non-LED lamps installed in these fixtures also tend to generate excessive heat.
Heating systems keep occupants warm when the weather starts cooling down. As one of the biggest energy use in a home, it becomes important to have a higher efficiency system so no generated heat gets wasted up the flue.
Typically, cooling systems are not installed if there is no heating system. Cooling systems keeps the indoor temperature at a bearable state while the temperature outdoors reach triple digits. Maintaining the indoor comfort depends highly on how well the building shell holds and how effective the installed insulation is.
Heat Pump Systems take the best of both worlds in terms of heating and cooling, without being forced to utilize more energy. These systems tend to be more efficient and cool homes more effectively than their Gas Furnace and A/C Split System counterparts.
What's the point of having a stellar Space Conditioning System when the Duct System isn't able to deliver the conditioned air to where it is needed? Current California Code requirements specify that new duct systems may not have a leakage rate of more than 5% the system airflow.
When buildings are built too tight, comfort tends to go down since stagnant air is unable to escape and be replaced with fresh, outside air. To assist with this dilemma, mechanical ventilation is typically install to account for the reduced air movement between the indoor and outdoor air.
Kitchen Exhausts are often associated with cooking, and letting the bad smell out. They are often overlooked as an option for mechanical ventilation. Currently, the code requires newly installed kitchen exhausts to be listed with the Home Ventilation Institute's Directory of Certified Products.
Instant water heaters are becoming a norm, only providing hot water when needed. They are also much more efficient than their tanked counterparts since the hot water produced is not able to sit stagnant to cool down, because there are no tanks.
Instant Water Heater are efficient, but Heat Pump Water Heaters are even more so. These Water Heaters use electricity instead of natural gas. In conjunction with a Photovoltaic System, this provides homeowners an allowance to move closer to having Zero Net Energy usage.
Much like the Duct System, what point is having a super efficient Water Heater if the system to transport the hot water throughout the home is lacking. Metallic Water Piping are very conducting, absorbing heat from the nearest source; including the freshly heated water. To mitigate this heat dissipation, either the pipes are insulated, a re-circulation system is added, or the distance is moved as close as possible to the point of use.
Solar Ready Building are self-explanatory. They are buildings that have been designed to readily accept future installations of a Photovoltaic Systems. These residences typically have a section of the roof designated as the Solar Ready Area as well as an upgraded Service Panel that is able to accept the extra power.
PV Systems are designed to convert energy from the sun into usable energy as an alternative means to power the home. This has been the most popular way to utilize renewable energy, the sun, in your average home.
Battery Storage typically go hand in hand with PV Systems for the simple fact that PV System require the Sun to operate. Having a Battery Storage device allows for the use of the renewable energy regardless of the presence of the Sun. When used together, unexpected outages from the utility company is a non-issue.