The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers an easy way to evaluate your home’s annual energy usage called the Home Energy Yardstick. The Home Energy Yardstick measures your home’s efficiency when compared to similarly sized homes in similar weather conditions. After the extreme winter weather the entire nation has faced this season, spending fifteen minutes to evaluate your home’s efficiency is a great money-saving idea.
Homeowners may use the Home Energy Yardstick’s suggested improvements to make decisions on installing new, high-efficiency equipment or simply make a few minor changes around the house to decrease energy usage.
To use the Home Energy Yardstick, homeowners only need to know how much energy their home used in the past twelve months. The website recommends having your utility bills handy for this, or homeowners may also use “Green Button” data, which is a listing of your home’s monthly energy usage that may be securely downloaded from utility providers that participate in the Green Button program. There is a link from the website that allows you to see if your utility company participates.
The Home Energy Yardstick also asks for your ZIP code, the square footage of conditioned space in your home, the number of full-time residents of the home, and a list of all the types of fuel your home uses.
Once you answer the questions, the Home Energy Yardstick will:
- Give your home an efficiency score from 1 to 10 (10 being most efficient compared to similar homes).
- Give you an idea of how much energy is used for heating and cooling, as opposed to things like appliances, water heating, and lighting.
- Estimate your annual carbon footprint.
- Give you tips and suggestions for increasing your home’s energy efficiency and lowering utility bills, while at the same time improving your home’s comfort.
Any home that scored a 10 on the scale has used less energy and been more efficient than similar homes; a home that scored on the lower end of the scale was less efficient and had used more energy. Homes with a lower score can benefit more from the website’s energy efficiency tips and suggestions.
Some of these suggestions may be as simple as opening curtains to let the sun help warm the house, all the way to installing high-efficiency equipment to replace old equipment that burns more fossil fuels.
The Home Energy Yardstick recommends that, after making any improvements suggested, homeowners complete a new analysis every month when the new utility bills arrive. That way, they can monitor how their rating increases due to becoming more energy efficient.
The EPA also suggests having a home energy audit performed by a trained professional to get the most-personalized and thorough assessment possible.
With the extreme weather that most of our country is facing, both this winter and last summer, evaluating your home’s energy efficiency with this free online service is a great way to save money and be more “green” at home.