U.S. Department of Energy: Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Energy Savers Tips

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Your Home's Energy Use

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, contact your local utility, or call an independent energy auditor for a more comprehensive examination. For more information about home energy audits, including free tools and calculators, visit www.energysavers.gov or www.natresnet.org.

Graphic of a pie chart: space heating 31%, space cooling 12%, water heating 12%, lighting 11%, computers and electronics 9%, appliances 9%, refrigeration 8%, other 8%.

How We Use Energy in Our Homes
Heating accounts for the biggest chunk of a typical utility bill.
Source: 2007 Buildings Energy Data Book, Table 4.2.1., 2005 energy cost data.

Energy Auditing Tips

Tips for Finding a Contractor

  • Ask neighbors and friends for recommendations
  • Look in the Yellow Pages
  • Focus on local companies
  • Look for licensed, insured contractors
  • Get three bids with details in writing
  • Ask about previous experience
  • Check references
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau

Formulating Your Plan

After you have identified where your home is losing energy, assign priorities by asking yourself a few important questions:

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 reputable contractor can also calculate the return on your investment in high-efficiency equipment compared with standard equipment.

Thermal photograph of ranch style house shows heat escaping through windows, doors, and front porch.

Heat Loss 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 heat loss.

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Content Last Updated: 1/22/2009