3/9/2015

How Energy-Efficient is Your Home?

There is ever an increased focus on making homes more efficient, and for good reason. Energy-efficient homes are less costly to maintain and help to minimize damage to the environment in the communities in which they exist. While new homes are being built with greater consideration for energy efficiency, it can be effective to make changes to existing homes to increase energy efficiency. The first step to understanding the best ways to make a home more energy efficient is to discern how energy-efficient the home is at present. To make it easy for homeowners to evaluate and improve the energy efficiency of their homes, Energy Star created a Home Energy Yardstick assessment.

Home Energy Yardstick Ranking

The Home Energy Yardstick calculates the actual energy use of a home based on the last 12 energy bills. This number is then compared to similar homes across the country to determine where the home stacks up when it comes to energy efficiency. Certain factors are taken into consideration when evaluating each home’s energy efficiency, such as local weather, number of home occupants, and home size. A numerical ranking between one and ten, with ten being the highest energy-efficiency ranking is then given to the home.

Using the Home Energy Yardstick to Improve Efficiency

Once a home’s Energy Yardstick ranking has been calculated, homeowners can make changes to improve a home’s energy efficiency and see the impact of those changes. Using the information about energy use that is provided on each month’s electrical bill, homeowners can compare both energy and cost savings as changes are made. The electric company may also provide advice about what changes can be made to help homeowners see the biggest changes in energy use.

Making Changes to Improve Energy Efficiency

Changes can be made to both home operation and electrical equipment that is used within the home in order to improve energy efficiency. Light bulbs and lamps may be swapped out for more energy-efficient lighting. Purchasing appliances that have been designed with energy efficiency in mind may have a huge impact on energy savings. Homeowners may also focus on shutting off lights when not in the room, unplugging appliances when not in use, and other small changes in habits that can help to reduce energy usage.

Heating and Cooling Considerations

A significant amount of energy in most homes goes into heating or cooling the home. Improving the insulation, air sealing, and ventilation system in a home can have a dramatic impact on energy efficiency. Investing in new insulation and making sure that seals are tight can help to prevent heat or air from escaping the home. Investing in an energy recovery ventilation (ERV) system can help to keep energy usage low, as the system utilizes the comfortable room temperature in the outgoing air to either pre-cool or pre-heat the incoming air.