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Your Ultimate Guide to Energy Efficiency Terminology

Updated: Jun 30

Researching energy efficiency shouldn’t make your head spin, which is why we’ve put together this glossary of terms to help you understand some of the different terminology we use in the industry. With this handy guide a click away, you can make sense of your different options as a homeowner and make informed decisions surrounding your energy needs and usage habits.




Air Barrier

A system of materials, usually used in ceilings, walls and floors, to control air flow, ultimately preventing outside air from entering an inside space and providing moisture protection.


Blower Door Test

A blower door test, which is part of an energy audit, measures airtightness and locates air leakages within the home. The test involves mounting a powerful fan to the frame of an exterior door, blowing air in and out of the home (which changes the air pressure and forces air through any gaps) and revealing any problem areas that need to be sealed.


Building Envelope

All components that separate the indoor space from the outdoors (such as exterior walls, foundation, roofs, windows, and doors.

Energy Advisor

A licensed professional registered through Natural Resources Canada who has have extensive training and knowledge to detect inefficiencies and provide solutions to reduce energy consumption.


Energy Audit

An energy audit is an evaluation of a building’s energy usage. Conducted by a trained professional, called an Energy Advisor, an energy audit can help you determine where your home is losing energy (due to air leakage) so you can make the necessary upgrades to make it as efficient as possible.


Energy Conservation

Energy conservation is the effort made to reduce our overall energy consumption. This can be achieved either by using more energy efficient products or by reducing the amount of energy we use in our daily habits.


Energy Efficient

A product or home that uses less energy to operate or fulfill the same task on the same level as a standard product or home.


Green

Ok, this is a loaded one. Green is a term that is often used interchangeably with “eco-friendly” or “energy efficient” or “sustainable” but their individual meanings differ.


Practices, energy sources or products that are labelled “green” generally mean that they are implemented or created in ways that avoid harm to the environment.

For instance, green energy refers to an energy source that is infinite; it does not produce carbon emissions or negatively harm the environment when it’s being consumed.

Whereas a green product would have been produced using materials and manufacturing processes that don’t have a negative impact on the environment.


A product may be green, in that it didn’t harm the environment to create, but not sustainable, as the resources used may be limited.


Green is also different from energy efficient. While they both aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, something that is energy efficient may still have environmental implications, and therefore cannot be considered green.


Greenhouse Gas

Greenhouse gases (GHGs) are gases in the Earth’s atmosphere that trap the sun’s heat but don’t let it out, making the planet warmer than it should be (hence our planet’s current state of global warming). Because carbon dioxide makes up the vast majority of GHGs (and carbon dioxide can be attributed to things such as burning fossil fuels like coal and oil) we need to reduce the GHGs emitted into our atmosphere if we want to control climate change.


HVAC System

HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. An HVAC system controls the air quality and climate within a building.


Net-Zero Emissions

Also known as carbon neutrality, net-zero emissions is a goal that involves removing greenhouse gases from our atmosphere by curbing activity that produces the gases in the first place, and/or offsetting the effects of any new gases released (for instance, by planting trees or using technologies that capture harmful gases before they’re released in to the air.)


Net Zero Home

A Net Zero home is designed to produce as much energy as it requires to operate each year. They are 100% energy efficient. Net Zero homes require advanced building methodology and high-performance materials, as well as renewable energy systems, to reach zero net energy use.


Net Zero Ready Home

Net Zero Ready homes are built to the exact same energy efficiency requirements as a Net Zero home, but do not have the renewable energy systems (i.e., solar panels) in place. They are up to 80% more energy efficient than a standard home built to code.


Passive House (Passivhaus)

A Passive House is designed to keep energy use low, consuming up to 90% less energy than a standard home built to code, placing it in between a Net Zero Ready home and a Net Zero home in terms of overall energy consumption.


The major difference between a Passive House and a Net Zero home is that the Passive House’s stringent standards for insulation, air sealing, and use of passive solar reduce the energy needs to the point that very little solar energy may be needed to achieve Net Zero standards. On the other hand, a Net Zero home may require more solar energy to offset its overall energy needs.


Registered Energy Efficient Builder (REEB)

A builder or renovator who has taken the necessary energy efficiency training through the Canadian Home Builders’ Association – New Brunswick to obtain the necessary skills and knowledge to build homes to specific energy efficiency standards, such as ENERGY STAR®, R-2000, Net Zero Ready and Net Zero.


R-Value

An R-value tells us how well a particular building is insulated. The higher the R-value, the better the space is insulated, and therefore, the more energy you will likely save.


Sustainability

The concept of sustainability means that what we do today doesn’t deplete our ability (or resources) to continue doing so in the future. For instance, a sustainable energy source means that it will replenish itself faster than it is consumed.


U-Factor (or U-Value)

A rating often used on windows or doors that measures how fast heat will transfer through the product. For U-factor, the lower your rating, the better it will be at keeping your home’s heat from leaking to the outside.




Did we miss a term you’d like clarity on? Send us an email and we’ll add it to the list!


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