U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Building Technologies Office – Energy Open House
Solar Photovoltaics: Solar PV panels on the roof (generally facing south) can supplement the electric power supply, and reduce the overall cost of powering the home. Many utilities credit the homeowner's account (net metering) for PV-produced power that is fed back to the grid.
Landscaping: Deciduous trees planted on the south and west sides of the home can provide shading to block summer sun and reduce cooling needs. A lattice or trellis with climbing vines can shade the home's perimeter while admitting cooling breezes. As leaves drop, the trees allow sunlight to reach the home, helping to provide natural light and heat in winter. Evergreen trees planted on the north side of the home can help block cold winter winds.
Chimneys: In general, heating equipment that burns natural gas, oil, wood, or any other fuel that relies on an open flame should be vented to the outside so that burning byproducts cannot enter the home (backdraft). Backdrafting, caused by wind currents or unbalanced ventilation, deposits toxins like carbon monoxide as well as dust, soot, smoke, and unburned fuel in the home. Have a home performance specialist such as an energy auditor perform combustion safety testing.
Use a carbon monoxide detector for peace of mind. The Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends installing a carbon monoxide alarm in the hallway outside your bedrooms.
Ridge and Soffit Vents: Attic vents can blow off in high winds and provide a hole for water. Baffled ridge vents are preferred over other types because they prevent air and wind-driven rain from entering the attic through the ridge vent. Consider a new baffled ridge vent if you live in an area with frequent storm activity.