Prices for electricity, gas, and other fuel sources are at record levels, putting serious pressure on family budgets across the US. Add in higher prices at the pump, a weakened housing market, and a flat economy, and it becomes apparent that consumers are in need of some relief.
While the coming government rebates will offer temporary relief, homeowners can do their part to reduce their energy costs around the home. Thanks to the ENERGY STAR program, a joint effort by the U.S. Departments of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency, real relief is at hand. Online tools, including an ENERGY STAR Home Energy Yardstick can help you get an accurate picture on costs and the steps you can take to reduce your expenses.
A Yardstick Measuring Energy Consumption
The ENERGY STAR Home Energy Yardstick compares your home’s energy efficiency to similar homes across the country and offers recommendations for energy-saving home improvements from ENERGY STAR. You’ll need to gather some information first before using this free online tool including:
- The last twelve months of your energy bills (electricity, natural gas, propane, kerosene, and/or fuel oil).
- Input your zip code.
- Input the number of people who live in your home.
- Input the square footage (living space) of your home.
- List the decade when your home was built.
Once you have entered that information, then you can choose either to put in monthly statement information or yearly information. Hitting the submit button will produce a report which will tell you just how well your home compares with the national average.
Your Energy Score
My score was 2.5 out of 10, meaning that 75% of the homes in the country are more efficient than mine. Ouch. But, I’m not left without some tips as the ENERGY STAR site offers four areas of recommendation to improve my home’s efficiency:
1. Replace your 5 most frequently used lights or the bulbs in them with ones that have earned the ENERGY STAR.
2. Look for ENERGY STAR Products. Available in more than 50 product categories, including lighting and home appliances.
3. Heat and cool efficiently. Have your heating and cooling equipment serviced annually and remember to replace air filters regularly. Use a programmable thermostat, and when it’s time to replace old equipment, choose an ENERGY STAR qualified model.
4. Seal up your home. Seal air leaks, add insulation and choose ENERGY STAR qualified windows when replacing.
Some of steps I can do right now including plugging air leaks and improving insulation. I change the air filters on a quarterly basis and we use a programmable thermostat. Most of our appliances are efficient, but I know that our heater/air conditioning unit is inefficient and will be replaced within a few years time with something that will be less of a drag on our electrical and natural gas usage.
Finally, when the report is all done you can email it to your inbox and review it again or download for later review.
Chances are you can improve your home’s efficiency without undertaking a major home improvement project. Then again, if you are preparing such a project consider incorporating various ENERGY STAR recommended methods to reduce your energy costs.
Note: Recommendations for this article includes specific information derived from the ENERGY STAR website.
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