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Energy Efficiency vs. Energy Conservation

Recently, during January of 2019 here in Michigan, a polar vortex came thundering down and brought with it buckets of snow and dangerously cold weather. Highways shut down, schools closed, and millions of Michiganders found themselves working from home.

And in the middle of this cold snap phones across the state buzzed with a message from the governor asking if homeowners would lower the temperature of their homes in order to reduce the natural gas consumption, as a pressurization plant had experienced an accident and supplies were being stretched.

This raises an interesting discussion we can have with homeowners, or prospective owners, before new construction or renovation projects. How important is it that a home be built to be energy efficient, rather than having homeowners simply take steps to conserve energy.

Conservation vs Efficiency: what’s the difference?

Energy efficiency and conservation are often confused. Here are examples.

If you were interested in conserving energy, you might turn down your thermostat a couple degrees so it doesn’t have to run as often or as hard. Less energy is used, but you and your family are also going to notice the cooler temperatures (or warmer temperatures in the summer when you are turning down the AC).

On the other hand, a home with greater energy efficiency would require less energy to keep your thermostat steady, even at higher temperatures. This may be because the furnace is more effective or because the house is better insulated and bleeds less heat. Either way, with improved efficiency you pay less to get the same result and convenience, no conservation sacrifices required.

How do you improve efficiency?

Older homes, even those here in chilly West Michigan, weren’t built with modern energy efficiency guidelines in mind. Old windows and doors frequently develop leaks and poor insulation lets the cold in and the heat out. At the same time, as we mentioned earlier, older furnaces tend to be much less efficient, using more energy to provide less heat.

Replacing outdated wooden windows with modern ones is one of the best places to start. Weather-stripping around doors helps as well, or investing in a more modern door that’s better able to lock out the cold. You can also have your HVAC system inspected for faults, or upgrade your home’s insulation.

Start from the Beginning

If you are building a new home, or considering a whole house remodel or addition work with experts who know how to design a home to provide the most comfort and energy efficiency possible no matter what weather is colliding with our state. Trust Amber Valley Construction for the expert design work, quality construction, and outstanding customer service your home deserves.

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