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Home Energy Use
Contrary to popular belief, most of our energy use at home does not come from our lights. Instead, the largest chunk of our energy bills tends to come from heating and cooling, followed by clothes washing and drying. Therefore, there are many other ways to save energy than just turning off the lights! Scroll below to find actions you can take and resources you can use to effectively save a large chunk of energy at home.
There are several resources to estimate your home's energy efficiency and discover what actions you should take:
The ENERGY STAR Home Energy Yardstick provides a simple, online assessment of your home's annual energy use. You just need your utility bills from the past 12 months and 10 minutes of your time to discover where your home lands on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the most efficient.
The Home Energy Rating Systems (HERS) Index ranges from a score of 0 to 150. To calculate a home’s HERS Index Score, a certified RESNET home energy rater will do a home energy rating and compare the data against a similar home. The lower the number, the more energy efficient the homes.
Energy Star's 10 Tips for Hiring a Heating and Cooling Contractor: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=heat_cool.pr_contractors_10tips
Learn more about energy audits from our Home Energy Audit Guide.
Seal Air Leaks
Air leaks waste your energy dollars, and sealing those leaks is an effective, low-cost way to save energy. You can find air sealing tips here.
Insulate your Home
Insulation lowers energy use and improves home comfort. Bottom line – the higher the R value, the more effective the insulation is. Click here to find the best R value for your area of Indiana.
During the summer, set your thermostat to 75-78°F when you're at home and at 85°F when you’re away from home. During the winter, set your thermostat at 68°F when you're home and at 55°F when you leave home. A programmable thermostat will remember your temperature preferences, and most utilities provide a $25-30 rebate for this.
Air Conditioner and Heater
Replace dirty air-conditioner filters monthly, because clogged air filters restrict airflow and increases energy use. You can also give your AC a break by using ceiling fans. A ceiling fan makes a room feel 7°F cooler, which lets you raise the AC temperature.
Switch your water heater temperature from 140°F to save energy and protect your kids from scalding water. You should also insulate your water heater – insulating blankets cost between $15 and $30 and should have a payback period of one year.
Keep your fridge temperature between 35°F to 38°F, and keep your refrigerator's coils clean by vacuuming or brushing them. You should also replace a fridge that was made prior to 2004, since older models can use twice as much energy as a new ENERGY STAR labeled model. Most utilities will pay you about $30 for your old fridge, and they will pick up your fridge and recycle it for free!
Traditional bulbs may be cheap, but they use the most energy. In the long run, you will save money by choosing LED or CFL bulbs. LED bulbs use 90% less energy than traditional lights and break less easily. Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) use 2/3 less energy than traditional lights and last up to ten times longer.
Purchase ENERGY STAR Appliances
Products that have the ENERGY STAR label are designed to provide the same performance but use less energy than similar products, which translates to lower energy bills. Examples of these products include dishwashers, TVs, and clothes washers. You can spot an energy efficient product by looking for the ENERGY STAR label.
Top Ten USA: This website ranks the top ten most efficient products in each category, including refrigerators, clothes washers, hot water heaters, TVs, and laptops.
Energy Star Most Efficient: This website identifies the most efficient products among those that qualify for the ENERGY STAR in particular product categories.
Residential Energy Efficiency Tax Credit: Energy efficient home improvements may qualify for a tax credit, and the maximum tax credit for all improvements made is $500. Eligible technology includes the following: water heaters, furnaces, boilers, heat pumps, air conditioners, building insulation, windows, and roofs. This credit expires 12/31/2016. Learn more about the required equipment specification and the specific dollar amounts for each type of equipment here.
Utility Rebates: Check out your utility's 2016 rebates for energy efficient appliances. Rebates can range from $30 to $400, and appliances may include AC, heat pumps, or water heaters. Your utility's websites should have more information.
Resources for low-income homeowners
1. Home Energy Conservation (statewide): This state government program provides in-depth weatherization services to reduce energy costs. Hoosiers interested in the HEC should apply for this program through their local Community Action Agency.
2. REAL Services Elkhart, Fulton, Kosciusko, Marshall, and St. Joseph): This program provides free weatherization services to reduce home energy costs in North Central Indiana.
Resources for all homeowners
1. The Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership provides EcoHouse Energy Efficiency Loans for new insulation, caulking/sealing, furnace, water heater, windows, refrigerator and clothes washer.