The benefits of energy efficiency include lower utility bills, reduced air pollution and reduced dependence on fossil fuels. For existing homes, efficiency improvements fall into three categories: Do it yourself, Professional home performance improvements and Deep energy reductions.
Do it yourself—achieving up to 30% utility savings through simple, low cost measures that are possible even on a modest budget.
- Top Low and No Cost Do-It-Yourself Energy Saving Tips:
- Control the thermostat
- Weatherize doors and windows
- Use blinds and shades to control heat gain
- Control phantom loads
- Set hot water heater thermostat to 120F
- Wash clothes in cold water
- Replace furnace filter regularly
- Install CFLs (but be aware of clean-up and disposal methods)
- Air seal gaps and cracks, and ducts in unconditioned spaces
- Insulate and air-seal rim joists
- Insulate hot water tank (but be careful with gas water heaters and follow instructions)
- Install low-flow showerheads
Professional home performance improvements—achieving 30-70% utility savings by hiring a professional to conduct an energy audit, air sealing, installing new insulation (such as blowing in dense pack cellulose into existing walls) and replacing inefficient heating and hot water systems.
- Top 6 Professional Home Improvements to Reduce Utility Bills:
- Energy Audit
- Professional air sealing
- Attic insulation
- Wall insulation
- Replace hot water heater
- Replace furnace
Deep energy reductions—achieving 70-100% utility savings through measures such as adding on to existing walls to make room for additional insulation, and installing renewable energy systems.
- Top 2 Opportunities to Get on the Path to Deep Energy Reductions:
- When replacing appliances, windows, and heating and cooling systems, go Energy Star or beyond
- When re-siding, re-roofing, or waterproofing the foundation, add insulation
Top 5 Things to Know about Home Energy Efficiency:
- Home Energy Efficiency makes a big difference
- Housing is responsible for 24% carbon emissions in NEO. Reducing energy use by 50% in a “typical” home is equivalent to giving up use of a car in terms of carbon impact. It’s possible to reduce energy bills by 10% using low and no cost energy saving tips. Professional Home Improvements can reduce those bills by 50% or more.
- Energy Efficiency pays for itself and then some
- Every month, your savings should be greater than your cost to finance the improvements.
- The Greenest Home Is Already Built
- It’s more sustainable, more efficient and more cost effective to rehab an existing house then to build a new one. Existing homes can be converted to net zero energy homes for less than the cost of building a new net zero energy home.
- Seal it tight and ventilate it right
- Major home energy efficiency improvements should include the addition of controlled mechanical ventilation for optimal durability and health. Once mechanical ventilation is installed, homes should be sealed up as tight as possible. The addition of mechanical ventilation enables maximum energy efficiency.
- You can put your home on the path to deep energy reductions
- In order to meet long term carbon reduction goals to stop climate change, we need ultimately to reduce energy use in homes significantly more than typical energy efficiency improvements do. Homes that need a lot of rehab work are a great opportunity for deep energy reductions. Even if it’s not possible to do a complete deep energy reduction on your home all at once, there are unique opportunities over the life of a home to put and keep it on the path toward deep energy reductions.
Home Energy Audit Can Save Homeowners $200/Year
Putting Houses on the Path to Lower Energy Consumption
DIY Weatherization: How to Seal Gaps and Cracks
DIY Weatherization: How to Weatherize Doors
- Deep Energy Home Challenge
- Contact a RESNET Rater for an energy audit
- Do It Yourself Energy Savings
- Compact Florescent Bulbs (CFL) Factsheet
- CFL Bulbs: The U.S. EPA Guidelines and the Debate over Mercury (Plain Dealer 4/4/11)
- Energy Star Home Improvement
- Online community of experts
- DOE energy efficiency and renewable energy information
- Architecture 2030 Climate Change Challenge homeowner information
- Passive House U.S is a green building standard promoting homes that are so efficient they may not need a standard furnace. See GCBL’s article on Cleveland’s own passive house, the PNC SmartHome.
- Green Energy Ohio has excellent resources on renewable energy.
- US Department of Energy’s Building America Program
- US Department of Energy’s Guidelines for Home Energy Professionals (NEW!)
- EPA’s Healthy Indoor Environment Protocols for Home Energy Upgrades (NEW!)
- A cautionary tale about energy retrofits: The Tale of Weatherization (Video)