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Glossary of Terms
Glossary of Residential Energy Auditing Terms

Home energy auditing companies have their own language, and you'll benefit from understanding the basic terms and definitions used by local home energy auditors.

The glossary below includes some of the more common terms you may want to know when hiring residential energy auditing services.

air sealing
Air sealing is the process of sealing cracks and leaks in a home, usually with caulking, spray foam, foam, weather stripping and similar materials. Since attics, basements, windows, doors and crawlspaces are some of the most common culprits when it comes to air leaks and drafts. Air sealing these areas is one of the most cost-effective ways to increase a home's energy efficiency and is usually one of the first things an energy audit company recommends.

Also known as: draft sealing, sealing cracks, weather stripping, draft elimination

BPI stands for the Building Performance Institute. The BPI is an organization that exists to increase the energy efficiency of homes.

Also known as: Building Performance Institute, BPI certified

CFL bulbs
CFL bulbs, also known as compact fluorescent light bulbs, are those made of compact fluorescent tubing rather than the traditional incandescent light bulb. CFLs use less than half of the energy of traditional lightbulbs, which can save more than $30 over the life of the bulb.

Also known as: compact fluorescent lightbulbs, CFL light bulbs

demand response
Demand response are programs and technology that help reduce peak electrical usage during times of peak usage or when energy costs are highest. These technologies shift electrical usage to non-peak times when possible. These are usually devices and technologies that control or store energy during peak times for use during off-peak times. Pool pumps, AC units and water heaters are examples of appliances and items that may benefit from demand response technology.

Also known as: load management, energy load management

energy efficiency measure
Energy efficiency measures, also called EEMs, are appliances, equipment or use patterns that reduce the amount of energy without sacrificing service or usefulness. EEMs include heating and cooling systems, refrigerators, water heaters and similar items.

Also known as: EEM, energy efficient appliances

energy efficiency ratio
The ratio used to measure the efficiency of air conditioning systems. Higher energy efficiency ratio numbers mean the equipment will run more efficiently at higher outdoor temperatures.AC units with EER ratings higher than 12 may qualify for tax credits or other incentives.

Also known as: EER

Energy Star
Energy Star (often stylistically written as ENERGY STAR) is a federal program run by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to certify and label energy efficient products and materials.

Also known as: energy efficient products, energy efficient appliances

energy service companies
Energy service companies, also known as ESCOs, are businesses and organizations that install energy efficient equipment or materials in homes, commercial buildings and other facilities.

Also known as: ESCOs, energy efficiency contractors, energy efficiency companies

existing homes
Existing homes are residences that already exist. New homes are being built with home energy saving equipment, materials, appliances and fixtures. However, that doesn't mean existing homes can't also be energy efficient. Local residential energy auditing firms can perform energy audits and make recommendations to help owners of existing homes bring their houses up to peak energy performance.

Also known as: existing residences

The grid is the electrical distribution system, made of power lines and generators, that provides power to customers who are connected through the grid. Customers who don't rely on the public grid for power are said to be “off-grid”.

Also known as: electrical grid, electrical power system

Heating Seasonal Performance Factor
The Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (also known as HSPF) is a rating that shows the heat output of air conditioning heat pumps during normal usage. Heat pumps with high HSPF ratings are more efficient than those with low ratings.

Also known as: HSPF

HERS Index (Home Energy Rating System)
The Home Energy Rating System is a scoring system for home energy usage designed by the Residential Energy Services Network, also known as RESNET. The HERS scores homes on a scale of 100 to 0, with lower scores reflecting more energy efficient homes. HERS ratings also project energy costs.

Also known as: HERS, Home Energy Rating Services

home energy audit
Home energy audits are professional assessments of how much energy a home uses and ways that homeowners can make their houses more energy efficient and decrease their energy use. Do-it-yourself energy audits (DIY home energy audits) are available for homeowners who want to know basic facts about their home's energy usage, and professional home energy assessments can provide more accurate information about the energy homes use and can analyze the usage and give recommendations on the ways homeowners can save energy.

Also known as: DIY home energy audits, professional home energy auditing

home performance contractor
Local home performance contractors are those that retrofit existing homes to make them more energy efficient. This may include installing new doors and windows, energy efficient appliances and fixtures, and improving insulation.

Also known as: home energy efficiency contractors, energy efficiency contractors

LED lights, short for light-emitting diodes, are lights that use 75 percent less energy than traditional bulbs. They last up to 50 times longer than incandescent lights.

Also known as: light-emitting diodes

Load is defined as the amount of power required to run an appliance or electric system. Load can be required by consumers, circuits or electric company systems. Household load is considered the electrical load used by all of the electrical devices, appliances, lights and other electric systems in a home.

Also known as: electrical load

load management
A system designed to manage the timing and amount of electricity used by homes or customers during peak times.

Also known as: demand reduction

non-utility energy supplier
Non-utility energy suppliers and independent power producers are companies or suppliers other than local utilities that provide electricity or gas.

Also known as: independent power producer, independent power supplier

peak demand
The times when electric power is at its peak. Peak demand usually occurs on summer days because air conditioner use increases. Energy costs during peak demand times and days may be higher than at off-peak times due to systems put into place by energy companies to encourage customers not to use more energy than necessary during peak times. Load management systems and careful user management can limit peak demand usage.

Also known as: high-demand energy consumption

whole home energy programs
Whole home energy programs are those that assess the current conditions and make recommendations to make entire homes more energy efficient. This includes long-term planning for life-long energy efficiency throughout the home.

Also known as: whole home energy efficiency