How We Use
Energy in Our Homes
Heating accounts for the biggest chunk of a
typical utility bill.
Source: 2005 Building Energy Data Book,
The first step to taking a whole house
energy efficiency approach is to find out
which parts of your house use the most energy.
A home energy audit will pinpoint those areas
and suggest the most effective measures for
cutting your energy costs. You can conduct a
simple home energy audit yourself, you can
contact your local utility, or you can call an
independent energy auditor for a more
Check the insulation
levels in your attic, exterior and basement
walls, ceilings, floors, and crawl spaces.
Consumer's Guide for instructions on
checking your insulation levels.
- Check for holes or cracks
around your walls, ceilings, windows, doors,
light and plumbing fixtures, switches, and
electrical outlets that can leak air into or
out of your home.
- Check for open fireplace
- Make sure your appliances
and heating and cooling systems are properly
maintained. Check your owner's manuals for
the recommended maintenance.
- Study your family's
lighting needs and use patterns, paying
special attention to high-use areas such as
the living room, kitchen, and outside
lighting. Look for ways to use lighting
controlsólike occupancy sensors, dimmers, or
timersóto reduce lighting energy use, and
replace standard (also called incandescent)
light bulbs and fixtures with compact or
standard fluorescent lamps.
Formulating Your Plan
After you have
identified where your home is losing energy,
assign priorities by asking yourself a few
Once you assign
priorities to your energy needs, you can form
a whole house efficiency plan. Your plan will
provide you with a strategy for making smart
purchases and home improvements that maximize
energy efficiency and save the most money.
Another option is to get the advice of a
professional. Many utilities conduct energy
audits for free or for a small charge. For a
fee, a professional contractor will analyze
how well your home's energy systems work
together and compare the analysis to your
utility bills. He or she will use a variety of
equipment such as blower doors, infrared
cameras, and surface thermometers to find
leaks and drafts. After gathering information
about your home, the contractor or auditor
will give you a list of recommendations for
cost-effective energy improvements and
enhanced comfort and safety. A good contractor
will also calculate the return on your
investment in high-efficiency equipment
compared with standard equipment.
from a House
A picture is worth...in this case, lost
heating dollars. This thermal photograph
shows heat leaking from a house during those
expensive winter heating months. The white,
yellow, and red colors show heat escaping.
The red represents the area of the greatest
Tips for Finding a
Ask neighbors and friends
Look in the Yellow Pages
Focus on local companies
Look for licensed,
Get three bids with
details in writing
Ask about previous
Check with the Better
has been developing for months. But the actual construction of this
site was begun on February 11, 2009.
The site will be THE
comprehensive site for consumers, showing them the myriad of
ways they can save on their utility expense.
This column will be available to
those wishing to advertise their utility, their product, or
their service. Contact us at:
to arrange for your ad. The site will be substantially completed
within a month, but if you wait until that moment, space may
well be taken. This is the time to strike a deal for a bargain
ad. We have posted the site early for this purpose.