The Covid-19 pandemic has led us into a new era, in which more of us are spending more time at home.
A recent study by the Wilden Living Lab research team shows energy-saving measures in your home make even more sense now than before the pandemic.
Back in Spring 2020, when businesses issued stay-at-home orders to their employees, and when socializing and traveling were cancelled, people spent approximately twice as much time at home than they used to. Suddenly, most rooms in the house remained occupied throughout the day, there was more home cooking, comfortable temperatures became more important and screen times increased. A whole different pattern of residential energy usage occurred.
In the meantime, while some companies have ended the stay-at-home policy, many continue to reap the benefits, such as having to provide less office space and keeping their own energy costs lower.
The new hybrid model of working from home and the office also appeals to employees, who enjoy more freedom, less time away from family and a better work-life balance. New home plans already reflect the changing times in their layouts and provide more quiet working spaces. But homes should also adjust in their energy efficiency.
Researchers found a 30% increase in residential electricity consumption during the 2020 lockdown. UBC Okanagan’s research team used the Wilden Living Lab homes to study the effect these new conditions have on the efficiency of energy upgrades in the home and their payback times.
Used as the example was the “Home of Today,” built in 2016 to the then current building code, occupied by a family of two adults and two teenagers. The researchers compared two scenarios: the “Old Normal” in which the family spent 50% of their time at home, and the “New Normal” home 100% of the time during the lockdown.
The results showed a combination of energy upgrades consisting of improved wall and roof insulation, more efficient HVAC and hot water systems, higher-grade windows and solar panels resulted in a better payback time – 2.3 years less – in the “New Normal” (20.9 years) compared to the “Old Normal” (23.2 years).
Monetary reasons aside, if the intention is only to reduce carbon emissions by saving energy, then adding a foundation with enhanced insulation value to the mix is recommended. However, research showed that upgrade does not pay off faster in the “New Normal” scenario. The investment is too high for the energy savings it brings.
The most efficient investment in both scenarios, “Old Normal” and “New Normal,” is a high-performance hot water heater that heats water either on demand or with a heat pump.
In conclusion, the research results clearly show our change in lifestyle over the past two years and increased time spent in our homes is yet another reason to invest in energy efficiency.
While you are doing your part to lower the carbon emissions of residential living, the money saved on energy bills every month will be even more significant. A high-performance home will always earn your money back.
The higher the energy prices climb and the more energy you use in your home, the shorter the payback times will get.
To read the full research document, please click here.
This article is written by or on behalf of the sponsoring client and does not necessarily reflect the views of Okanagan Edge.
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