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Home Energy Usage
Whole-House “Energy” Budget Guide:
By Al Ubell and Label Shulman
Published September 3, 1991 - Family Circle Magazine
Updated: September 20, 2005
As a homeowner, are you an exceptional saver or a hopeless spendthrift? Take our quiz and find out. Place a check after the statement that best describes your household habits. This checklist will help you identify the holes in your budget so you can start saving thousands.
10 Steps to Energy Wisdom:
- ____ Home Thermostat
- ____ HVAC Systems
- ____ Water Heater
- ____ Water Faucets
- ____ Water Consumption
- ____ Washer/Dryer Appliances
- ____ Fridge
- ____ Lighting
- ____ Home Insulation
- ____ Home Windows
What Kind of Energy Guru are You?
B=Average Homeowner [10pts]
C=Very Smart [15pts]
E=Exceptional Saver [20pts]
Check off your habit and add your points when done!
- ____ You never lower the temperature on your manually operated thermostat.
- ____ Your heating system has a single-setback thermostat, but you can't change the temperature.
- ____ A single-setback thermostat operates for both night and day settings.
- ____ Your heating system is equipped with a double-setback thermostat.
- ____ You have your home heating and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems serviced only when they break down.
- ____ You never turn off the HVAC systems in any of the unoccupied rooms in your home.
- ____ Your HVAC systems are cleaned once a year.
- ____ Your HVAC filters are cleaned or replaced once a month and periodically tested by a professional for energy efficiency.
- ____ Your water heater has no insulation jacket.
- ____ Your water heater is insulated but has never been cleaned.
- ____ Your water heater has an insulation jacket and is serviced periodically.
- ____ Your heater is a newer model, which has a high energy-saving rating.
- ____ Your home has several leaky faucets.
- ____ You have one leaky faucet that has been dripping for a month.
- ____ You hire outside help to repair leaky faucets.
- ____ You have leaky faucets repaired and have aerators installed.
- ____ You always take long hot baths, never showers.
- ____ Your shower has a standard shower head.
- ____ You've replaced your standard shower head with a low-flow model.
- ____ You have a low-flow shower head, and you take short showers.
- ____ You have a top-load clothes washer that is set for hot-water washes only.
- ____ You've installed a more energy-efficient front-load clothes washer.
- ____ You have an energy-efficient front-load clothes washer and you always set the machine for cold-water rinses.
- ____ Your clothes washer is the most energy-efficient front-load model in its size. You always set the machine for cold-water rinses, and most of the washes you do are full loads.
- ____ You defrost the freezer compartment of your refrigerator only when it is caked with ice.
- ____ You check the gaskets around your refrigerator door for leakage periodically.
- ____ You vacuum the condenser coils in your refrigerator twice a year.
- ____ Your refrigerator is less than five years old and is the most energy-efficient model in its size.
- ____ Once you've turned on a light, you leave it on - even in a closet, attic or basement.
- ____ You rarely shut lights when leaving a room.
- ____ You always shut lights when leaving a room.
- ____ You always shut lights when leaving a room, and you have compact fluorescent bulbs in the light fixtures in all your rooms.
- ____ Your house has no insulation in the attic, walls or crawl spaces.
- ____ Your attic has minimal insulation (less than 3″ inches).
- ____ Your attic has the recommended R-value of insulation for your area, and the walls are insulated.
- ____ Your attic, walls and crawl spaces are insulated to the U.S. Department of Energy recommendations for your area of the country.
- ____ Your house is extremely drafty because you have single-pane windows with no caulking or weather stripping.
- ____ You have recently caulked and weather-stripped around all the windows in your home.
- ____ You've recently installed storm windows.
- ____ You've replaced all single-pane windows in your home with double-or triple-pane “low-e”-type windows.
Tally Your Home Energy Score: ________
A score of 0 - 50: There are serious leaks in your home expenses.
A score of 51 - 100: You need to mend your energy spending ways.
A score of 101 - 150: Impressive, but you can be an even more prudent homeowner.
A score of 151 - 200: Great! But some of the following tips can save even more.
Your Money-Saver Roadmap
How did you score? Whether you're an exceptional saver or a hopeless spendthrift, there are quite a few quick and easy steps you and your family can take to make your home more energy-efficient and less costly to run, while also improving the quality of your life. With a little thought and planning you can implement the following no-cost or low-cost steps and save a few thousand dollars this year. Good luck!
Energy Habits & Money-Saving Tips
|Home Energy-Saving Tips||Initial Cost||Average Annual Savings|
|Install a comfort-zone control system on your HVAC systems. The system controls your home temperature as accurately as plus/minus 1/2°F and saves energy.||$1,500||$360|
|You can save an average of $30 per room/per year by turning off lights when you leave a room.||$0||$150 +|
|Repair all leaky hot-water faucets for yearly hot-water energy savings.||$0||$100-$200|
|Install compact fluorescent bulbs. Replace a 75-watt incandescent bulb with an 18-watt fluorescent bulb - which can last years - and save.||$16||$15|
|Install timer switches on lights that you usually forget to turn off.||$30||$30|
|Keep attic vents open year-round to prevent roof and rafter rot.||$0||Possibly $1,000's|
|Caulk and weatherstrip all windows, doors and sills.||$100||$300|
|On sunny winter days open your Venetian blinds or window shades to let in the sun's heat. This can raise the temperature in your home 2°F or more, and reduce your heating bill.||$0||$60|
|On sunny summer days close your curtains, drapes and Venetian blinds to keep your home cool, thereby reducing your air-conditioning costs.||$0||$150|
|Have your home termite-inspected at least once every two years to prevent very expensive termite and carpenter-ant damage.||$25-$30||$1,000's|
|Clean and repair your home's gutters and leaders at least twice a year to prevent costly basement and crawl-space flooding and attic leakage and damage.||$75||$1,000's|
Copyright © Alvin Ubell, Label Shulman & Family Circle Magazine - 1991