Energy Efficiency Action items for San Francisco Architects
According to EIA, buildings still consume 77% of all electricity produced in the U.S. and more, globally. The dependency on fossil fuels for production of electricity makes buildings more responsible for greenhouse gas emissions than automobiles.
Energy Efficiency items can be broken down into 4 basic categories:
- Building Envelope
- Mechanical Systems
- Water Heating
Below are some simple measures that can be taken to cut down utility bills in buildings and help conserve energy (and reduce greenhouse gas emissions).
- Use building design techniques that consider all building components and systems.
- Develop an energy model of the building using a simulation software. Modeling can help make critical decisions about a building’s design and retrofit early in the process.
- In existing buildings, sealing air leaks and adding insulation can dramatically increase savings up to 20% on heating and cooling costs.
- Also, seal cracks and gaps around windows, doors and siding with caulk.
- Upgrade old windows to high-efficiency ones. Look for Energy Star labeled windows.
- Set thermostat to 76 degrees instead of 72 or lower. This simple operational measure can save as much as 15% on electricity cost.
- Install and use an energy efficient ceiling fan for smaller spaces instead of an air-conditioner.
- Choose efficient furnaces and air conditioners when it’s time for replacement. Furnaces with an Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency rating of at least 92 and an electrically efficient blower motor (ECW or variable speed) are best. For central air conditioners look for a model with a SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating) of 14 or more for best efficiency.
- Schedule regular tune-ups of the furnace and air conditioner. Seasonal maintenance keeps equipment running safely and efficiently, and saves money in the long run.
- Install and use a programmable thermostat to adjust the temperature.
- If building loads are variable, consider installing multiple small boilers.
- Sealing and insulating ducts can improve the efficiency of a heating and cooling system by as much as 20 percent.
- Set refrigerators at 39 degrees and Freezers at 5 degrees, a simple step that could save as much as 15% more energy.
- Consider switching to natural gas. Compared to other traditional energy sources, natural gas is the least expensive way to heat a space and water.
- Habits can help such as turning off a system when a space isn’t occupied or turning off lights when not needed.
- Outdoor CFL for outdoor lighting can last up to 10 times longer than standard bulbs.
- Use timers, motion sensors or a photo sensor to prevent outdoor lights from operating during daylight hours.
- Look for the blue and white Energy Star label on compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) or LED bulbs. They use 75 percent less energy than standard incandescent bulbs.
- Use occupancy sensors in indoor spaces so they are not lit when vacant or dimmer switches.
- Check hot water pipes for leakage.
- Insulate the first six feet of the hot and cold water pipes connected to the water heater.
- Water-efficient fixtures can reduce water and sewer bills by up to 30%.
- Buy an Energy Star label water heater and consider tankless water heaters in areas of infrequent use, to reduce standby storage costs and waste.