Because careers in energy efficiency are relatively new, you probably wonder if this career field is for you. This eBook is designed to be your complete guide. Want to know how much you'll earn? That's in here. What about where companies are hiring? We've got you covered. Curious about what you'll do all day? All that and more is in this book.
A GROWING EYE FOR EFFICIENCY
The idea of actively encouraging energy efficiency (also known as energy conservation) isn't a new one. Way back in the 1970s, state and federal governments set the first efficiency standards on household appliances. But it wasn't until recently that energy efficiency programs have taken off.
Factors like the cost of energy, the green movement, more federal funding and energy efficiency programs from utility companies have pushed the demand for appliances and products that are energy efficient. From the rise in use of compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs to changes in home insulation products to smart thermostats, there have been a lot of things made available to the general public that help with energy efficiency.
WHAT ARE THE JOBS LIKE?
If energy efficiency had a tagline it might be: people in suits need not apply. That's because in this field you can expect to get your hands dirty and probably your shoes and clothes too. Residential energy auditors spend their days trying to find boilers and water heaters or looking at insulation, which often means crawling around the dustiest, dirtiest, dingiest parts of houses.
Experts in this field who work in commercial and industrial environments also get dirty as they research and discover how specific energy processes work.
But the bottom line is that energy efficiency is about eliminating waste. It's about identifying parts of a house, a building or a system that aren't working as well as they could be and making or recommending a fix. Luckily, energy auditors have a lot of tools that can help them do that.
IT'S TOOL TIME
These are just some of the tools energy auditors use regularly:
- Pressure and flow gauges
- Blower door
- Radiation detector
- Thermal camera
- Combustion gas leak detector
- Items like tape, foam sealant, masks, goggles, dry wall saw, gloves, box cutter, caulk gun, flashlight, tape measure and weather seal
There are a lot of different kinds of people who work in energy efficiency. But, if you have construction experience or have a good understanding of how buildings are constructed, you'll have a leg up in this field. A big part of the work is being able to make recommendations to solve the problems uncovered by an energy audit, such as appropriate insulation, windows and other materials. Being knowledgeable about construction also makes you an in-demand job candidate as companies working on new buildings want to make them as energy efficient as possible.
Regardless of previous work background, energy efficiency professionals need to know how to properly conduct an energy audit (something you can learn in your degree program), use a variety of tools and exercise good personal skills since you'll work with people from all walks of life.
Energy efficiency is sometimes overlooked as a green resource, but really it's one of the cheapest, fastest and cleanest ways to be green. It's also been a big focus of both government and private companies in recent years, probably because conserving energy translates into saving money.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports that our buildings (homes, shops, libraries, offices, etc.) use approximately $200 billion in energy each year! That's a big part of our overall energy consumption and CO2 emissions.
As more people and companies make building and home upgrades to save energy, it will keep translating to even more cost savings—and new jobs. According to a report from consulting firm McKinsey, all the building upgrades that are needed could create tens of thousands of jobs. Seems like the need for energy auditors and energy efficiency experts is not going away soon.