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Top 10 Energy Terms We Want You To Know

1. Path to Zero

Definition: CORE’s 5 step plan to get you and your home to carbon-free living.

Why it’s important: The Path to Zero is the most effective order to tackle commercial or residential energy upgrades. Each step builds on the one before to cut carbon emissions, lower utility bills and make your space more comfortable.

Read more about the Path to Zero: Zero is Here

2. Net Zero Energy

Definition: When the amount of energy provided by renewable resources is the same amount as the energy used.

Why it’s important: When you reach net zero, your home is no longer emitting any greenhouse gases.

Read more about Net Zero Energy: The New Pioneers of Net Zero

3. Beneficial Electrification

Definition: The process of switching from dirty fossil fuels to clean electricity in ways that benefit consumers, the environment, and the utility grid.

Why it’s important: Our electric utility in the RFV is committed to be 100% renewable energy by 2030, that means when you use electricity, you will no longer have to rely on fossil fuels.

Read more about Beneficial Electrification: Electrify Our Future

4. Embodied energy (in building materials)

Definition: The total energy consumed during the production of a building, from mining natural resources to manufacturing including transport, delivery and construction.

Why it’s important: Embodied energy can be the same as a few years of operational energy, and this adds up to contribute to GHG emissions and climate change.  You should choose materials and construction processes that cut emissions.

Read more about Embodied Energy: Embodied Energy

5. Heat Pump

Definition: A mechanical system that allows for heat to move from one location (the “source”) at a lower temperature to another location (the “sink” or “heat sink”) at a higher temperature.

Why it’s important: Heat pumps are the most efficient way to heat and cool your home. Plus they run off electricity (see beneficial electrification).

Read more about Heat Pumps: Use Cold Air to Heat Your Home

6. Solar Thermal

Definition: A system that uses the sun to heat water and produce steam that can be converted into electricity. It can also be used to meet your domestic hot water needs.

Why it’s important: They use the sun’s energy which is a renewable resource, so no carbon emissions.

Read more about Solar Thermal: Solar Water Heaters

7. Microgrid

Definition: A small-scale power grid that can operate independently or collaboratively with other small power grids – like Basalt Vista.

Why it’s important: They can operate when the main grid is down so they add to grid resilience.

Read more about Microgrids: The Role of Microgrids in Helping to Advance the Nation’s Energy System

8. Building Envelope

Definition: The exterior of a building that separates the conditioned inside from the elements outside.

Why it’s important: The tighter the building envelope, the less drafty the home is, thus it can use less energy to heat and cool the home.

Read more about Building Envelopes: This Cold House

9. Building Ventilation

Definition: Bringing fresh air inside at the same rate as stale air is exhausted.

Why it’s important: The tighter the building envelope, the less drafty the home is, thus it can use less energy to heat and cool the home.

Read more about Balanced Ventilation: Balanced Ventilation

10. HERS Rating

Definition: One number that tells you everything you need to know about how efficient a home is – like an MPG sticker for a house. The lower the score, the more energy efficient your home is, and the lower your energy bills are.

Why it’s important: The lower your HERS score is, the more efficient your home is. This can help you compare your home and set goals.

Read more about HERS ratings: It’s All HERS

There are a lot of confusing terms in the energy world, but we are here to help you out with the top 10 terms we think you should know!


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Written by: Brittany LaClair

Brittany studied Environmental Studies at the University of Vermont where she discovered her passion for sustainability, conservation, and energy efficiency. During college, her love for travel brought her to Costa Rica and Spain where she gained an international perspective on environmental issues. After graduation, she wanted to find bigger mountains and explore the west, so she moved to Aspen to become a snowboard instructor for what she thought would be one winter. The outdoorsy, adventurous lifestyle sucked her in as she continues to enjoy life in the Roaring Fork Valley. Some of her favorite activities include snowboarding, hiking, trail running, camping, and paddleboarding. She has worked for nonprofits since 2016 and strives to have a positive impact on the community through CORE.

CORE is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to leading the Roaring Fork Valley to a carbon-free, net zero energy future.