Building Envelope basically refers to the materials that make up your house. The floors, walls, windows, doors, attic, basement, etc. I'm also going to include home orientation and exterior items that impact your energy/water usage in this category.
The American Solar Energy Society had a great article in their March 2009 issue regarding how homeowners make their energy conservation and efficiency decisions. Do residents really pick the low-hanging fruit that delivers the most bang for the buck?
***Update - 10/4/09 - I have an improving lighting cost comparison that includes a lighting calculator and includes a residential LED bulb. See the incandescent, CFL, and LED lighting cost comparison and calculator.
My sister recently called me for some insight on a discussion she was having with her roommates on how they could save money on their heating bills in their house in WY. She was trying to convince them that when they left the house, they needed to lower the thermostat from 64° F (which is already a pretty good setting) to 60°; basically, to follow my advice here.
Once you've decided to replace your energy wasting incandescent bulbs with CFLs, you need to develop the right strategy. Ideally, you would like to replace all your bulbs at once, but some people may not be able to tackle this expense all at once.
As I discussed in monitoring intro, knowing how you are using your power is one of the most important steps to take for your energy conservation efforts. While we wait for the smart grid to arrive, we have a few options on the monitoring front.
While waiting for my breakfast (which was insanely delicious) at the Alpine House in Jackson Hole I picked up a copy of the Jackson Hole Daily. I love reading the local papers to get a real feel of the atmosphere. I certainly didnt think I'd find an article as interesting as the one I did.
As a mechanical engineer, I love wind turbines because unlike solar panels, I can see things move! It's hard for me to to do a better job than the American Wind Energy Association in going over some of the basics of wind power. Their website is fantastic.