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admin 21.07.2014

A homeowner's guide to saving energy, increasing comfort, and protecting the environment.
The phrase “open architecture” probably elicits a beautiful picture of a roofless garden or a spacious home with many windows, few walls, and as little a barrier as possible between human and nature. In this way, open architecture proponents see it as a way to highlight home energy consumption and hopefully decrease it, making it more efficient, in the future. In computer science, some researchers have proposed using open architecture to make homeowners aware of their energy consumption, causing them to do better from knowing better. Another proposal, this time focusing on energy consumption in businesses, designed, “an open architecture for a system with the potential to encourage sustainable energy usage within residential environments.
In both scenarios, allowing users to easily access their energy consumption via open architecture-created data visualizations will spur homeowners to track what they’re consuming and calculating the costs of keeping up their habits as is or the potential savings from changing them. Within this curriculum, learning about databases, health informatics, and public policy, students can apply this knowledge to understanding and tracking the implications of mass energy consumption in an era where sustained renewable energy is becoming a real possibility and energy costs are constantly rising.
For decades, space heating and cooling (space conditioning) accounted for more than half of all residential energy consumption. While energy used for space conditioning has declined, energy consumption for appliances and electronics continues to rise. On average, residents living in homes constructed in the 1980s consumed 77 million Btu of total energy at home. In the past, EIA reported household energy data for the United States, for census regions and divisions, and for the four most populous states: California, Texas, New York, and Florida. Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter. The American Renewable Energy Institute (AREI) brings together thought leaders and experts to foster climate change solutions.
CleanTechnica is the #1 cleantech-focused news & analysis website in the US & the world, focusing primarily on electric cars, solar energy, wind energy, & energy storage. The EIA's most recent (2009) Residential Energy Consumption Survey details this shift in how energy is consumed in homes.
More specifically, the survey found that space heating accounted for the largest share (42 percent) of energy usage in homes, followed by electronics, lighting, and appliances (30 percent), water heating (18 percent), air conditioning (6 percent), and refrigeration (5 percent). Home energy consumption is responsible for a major fraction of the average American's carbon emissions -- roughly 32 percent, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists -- and offers significant opportunities for greater efficiencies. Start by becoming familiar with the information contained in your natural gas and electric bills and then track your energy usage from month to month. The "meter reading" section of the typical gas bill reports the amount of gas used during the current billing period.
Your gas bill may give you this information if it reports the total number of degree days in that billing period. Degree days are used to calculate the effect of outside air temperature on building energy consumption. Similarly, cooling degree days (CDDs) are a measure of how much warmer the outside average temperature was than 65°F. Dividing the number of therms used by the total number of degree days for that period provides useful information about the energy performance of your house.

With this calculation, you can compare your energy consumption from month to month, and year to year, despite variations in the weather and the fluctuating cost of energy. Most consumers pay a fixed per-kWh rate for their electricity no matter what time of day or which day they use it. For much of the day, the "real time" price is lower than the standard fixed price, but at times of peak demand--on steamy afternoons in summer, for example--the price of electricity can soar.
Another rate structure that rewards customers who cut usage during peak periods is Time of Use (TOU) pricing. Most of the energy consumed in homes is produced by burning fossil fuels like coal, oil, and natural gas.
Coal-burning accounts for about one-third of the country's total CO2 emissions and is the single largest source of some of the worst air pollutants, including deadly particulate matter, acid-rain-forming sulfur dioxide, and toxic mercury.
Oil burns cleaner than coal but still produces large quantities of CO2 for each unit of energy produced.
Close to three-fourths (72 percent) of the carbon emissions related to operating a home is attributable to the electricity used in the home.
The other factor is the electric power industry's heavy reliance on fossil fuels--carbon-intensive coal in particular. To answer that question, you will need 12 months of data about the energy used in your home. To calculate the impact of the electricity you use, add up the number of kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity delivered to your house over a 12-month period.
The emissions released in generating electricity vary from one part of the country to another, depending on the types of fuels used in the power plants in each region. For most Americans, driving ranks along with electrical usage at the top of the list of daily pollution-causing activities. There are lots of things you can do--many of them no-cost or low-cost steps--to cut your energy consumption and reduce your greenhouse gas emissions.
Replace five of the most frequently-used incandescent light bulbs in your house with compact fluorescent lights--or LEDs.
Seal and weather-strip ducts, doors and windows to keep warm air from leaking into your house in summer and out of your house in winter. The EPA details a number of Actions You Can Take at home, at the office, on the road, and at school to save energy.
The EPA also offers a Personal Emissions Calculator that can help consumers estimate their household's greenhouse gas emissions, explore actions they can take to reduce their emissions and energy use, and see how much they can save by taking the actions selected. The websites of a number of nonprofit organizations provide valuable information about global warming, clean energy, and tips for consumers on ways to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
Natural Resources Defense Council, for example, works on a comprehensive set of environmental issues, including global warming and clean air and sustainable communities. The Union of Concerned Scientists is another good source of information about global warming, clean cars, and clean energy. But in reality, “open architecture” has to do with the unsexy steel of computers, the motherboards and software that gets run. The way that one team of researchers is proposing this is by having open architecture to create an interface that highlights the household’s energy consumption.

It enables the collection and storage of energy consumption data from individual electrical appliances. With online degree programs, such as an Online Master of Science in Health Informatics from The University of Scranton, students can receive a comprehensive education to prepare them for the fields of information technology, business, and healthcare. Knowing how the data works as well as its implications makes open architecture not just an interesting strategy, but one that could prove to be extraordinarily cost-effective. Estimates from the most recent Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS), collected in 2010 and 2011 and released in 2011 and 2012, show that 48% of energy consumption in U.S. Although some appliances that are subject to federal efficiency standards, such as refrigerators and clothes washers, have become more efficient, the increased number of devices that consume energy in homes has offset these efficiency gains. By comparison, those living in newer homes, built from 2000 to 2009, consumed 92 million Btu per household, which is 19% more. In the 2009 RECS, EIA expanded the household data series to include 12 more states: Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin. Energy Information Administration -- the EIA collects, analyzes, and disseminates independent and impartial energy information to promote sound policymaking, efficient markets, and public understanding of energy and its interaction with the economy and the environment.
It is part of Important Media -- a network of 20 progressive blogs working to make the world a better, greener place. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by, and do not necessarily represent the views of Sustainable Enterprises Media, Inc., its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries. Energy Information Administration reports that residential energy consumption per household has decreased over the last 30 years.
Environmental Protection Agency's Energy and You web pages contain information about the impact of electricity generation on the environment.
The EPA's Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator translates abstract measurements into concrete terms. Open architecture is akin to open-source code in that anybody can access, upgrade, and design products and add-ons for the code in question. In this architecture, even the homeowners themselves can tweak what they see and how they see it, allowing them for their most change-worthy habits to be in their faces whenever they need to detract overusing energy. Non-weather related energy use for appliances, electronics, water heating, and lighting now accounts for 52% of total consumption, up from 42% in 1993.
Factors underpinning this trend are increased adoption of more efficient equipment, better insulation, more efficient windows, and population shifts to warmer climates. The majority of devices in the fastest growing category of residential end-uses are powered by electricity, increasing the total amount of primary energy needed to meet residential electricity demand. The shift in how energy is consumed in homes has occurred even as per-household energy consumption has steadily declined. As described in yesterday’s Today in Energy, increased electricity use has a disproportionate effect on the amount of total primary energy required to support site-level energy use.

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