The Ultimate Guide to Energy Efficiency Terminology
Energy efficiency is quickly becoming ubiquitous across industries. As more businesses look to reduce their energy consumption and hit sustainability targets, improving efficiency has become an increasingly popular strategy among restaurants, fitness and health facilities, retail locations, and more.
However, it’s a relatively new focus for many businesses, and there’s a lot of aspects and lingo that can be tricky to understand. At Budderfly, we have a lot of expertise around energy efficiency for businesses, so we thought we’d compile a helpful glossary of energy efficiency terminology.
Once you understand the meaning of all these various words and acronyms, it will be much easier to understand all that goes into energy efficiency upgrades—and the best ways to go about implementing it for your business locations.
Energy and Efficiency Lingo
Energy efficiency: This one might be obvious to most people, but if you’re not sure exactly what “energy efficiency” means, we are not here to judge but to educate. This term simply refers to improving equipment, systems, or processes to produce the same output (such as lighting or refrigeration) while using less energy.
EEAS and EEAAS: These two acronyms are similar: one stands for energy-as-a-service, the other for energy-efficiency-as-a-service. These are two categories of businesses that help provide or manage energy needs, often with a goal of reducing consumption through efficiency, and there is variation in exactly what they offer.
Peak demand: Certain times of the day (and year) are more popular for electricity use. For example, during the hottest days of the year, more people will have their air conditioners running, leading to much higher energy consumption. The times when use is highest are known as peak demand, and energy companies typically charge a higher rate for electricity used during these windows of time.
Net-zero: Also known as carbon neutrality, this means having your carbon emissions negated by reducing your output to zero (by doing things like using green energy instead of carbon-producing fossil fuels) or partaking in activities that help neutralize your impact by removing carbon from the atmosphere, such as planting trees.
Renewable energy sourcing: This simply refers to powering your electric appliances with environmentally friendly sources of energy like solar or wind. They are called renewable because unlike fossil fuels, of which there is a finite amount on earth, these are easily provided by ongoing natural processes. They are better for the planet because they don’t involve burning materials that release greenhouse gases.
Energy audit: An energy audit is an inspection of your business or home that looks at how much energy you’re using, figures out where the most energy is being consumed, and finds opportunities to reduce your energy usage through improved efficiency.
Energy Efficiency Equipment Terminology
LED: LED lighting is the use of a type of bulb that requires less energy than others, like the common incandescent bulb, making them much more efficient. But many people don’t know that “LED” actually stands for “light-emitting diode.” LEDs create light when electrons move in a semiconductor material (known as the diode), and unlike incandescent bulbs, the LED process doesn’t generate heat, which is why it needs less energy.
HVAC: This acronym stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning and refers to the technology used to control air temperature in a building.
Refrigerant: This most often refers to chemicals used in refrigerators or air conditioners to cool the air by removing heat from the environment and carrying it elsewhere (like outside the building). Refrigerants are an essential part of HVAC and refrigeration technology, but historically chemicals like CFCs and HFCs have been used that have a highly negative impact on the planet, depleting the ozone layer. Luckily, new eco-friendly alternatives are being developed.
SEER and IEER: These two terms are ways that we measure the efficiency of HVAC units, Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio and Integrated Energy Efficiency Ratio. The ratios are calculated using equations that account for the amount of energy used by the machines and the amount of cooling power they generate. The higher the rating, the more efficient the unit is. IEER is a more modern and precise number that includes measurements of the HVAC’s performance at different outdoor temperatures. SEER is a slightly older way of rating that is primarily used to rate residential HVAC equipment. As of 2023, there are now new legal requirements for HVACs across the U.S.—new air conditioners must have a minimum SEER of 14 in northern states and 15 in southern states, up from to 13 and 14.
EMS: EMS, or Energy Management Software, is technology that automates the monitoring of your energy use, often collecting data from your different energy-consuming equipment to provide data and insights on your use and spend.
IOT sensors: IOT stands for “internet of things” and refers to technology that allows a physical device to send and receive information with internet-based software (like an EMS). IOT sensors can be placed in energy equipment to monitor things like temperature and humidity. Paired with smart technology, these sensors can detect and alert when there may be an equipment problem (e.g., if a refrigerator reaches a temperature higher than normal).
Sub-metering: Metering is the measurement of how much energy a building is using, and it’s how utility companies know how much to charge you each month. Sub-metering goes a step further and measures the amount of energy used by each piece of equipment across a building. This can provide important data about when and where the highest consumption is happening and can give insight into ways to use less energy.
Retrofit: One of the most impactful ways to reduce energy use is by upgrading to new high efficiency equipment. However, completely new models aren’t always necessary to get the benefits. Retrofitting is when existing equipment has new components installed that can improve performance without the full replacements.
At Budderfly, we are passionate about energy efficiency. Our mission is to help businesses use less energy to help their bottom line—and the planet. Using the strategies and technologies defined above (and providing equipment upgrades at no cost to business owners), we take the hassle out of energy efficiency. To learn more, contact one of our experts today.