How do I know if my home is energy efficient?

It is difficult to know exactly how you compare as different people have different life styles and different homes use different energy features, but there are ways to obtain a simple approximation; one that highlights if further investigation is needed.

The simplest solution is work on the basis of averages.  According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA)) there are around 115M homes in the United   States, and based on this large sample size established that the average conditioned floor space in 2011 was 1660 square feet.  At the same time the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated that an average homes energy bill in 2011 was $2200.

From above we know what the average US homes energy cost is per square foot, its 2200/1660 = $1.325 sq ft per year.  Note, this number reflects the average energy per square foot over all states and all climate conditions.

Now for comparison, living space (heated and cooled) square footage and energy bills for electricity and any fossil fuels for the past twelve months will be needed.  Many people discard their energy bills once paid; however, the energy companies keep bills on line for at least twelve months.  Once you have the bills add them together and divide by the square footage, if the result is higher than $1.325 then you are above the average and using too much energy, if below not so bad.

Unfortunately, the average home is not very energy efficient; it’s about 30% less efficient than a new home built using current 2009 building codes. When you add energy efficient building techniques an additional 40% improvement can be achieved.  For example an Energy Star rated home has to be at least 15% more energy efficient than the 2009 building codes and 45% lower than the average home.

If we now take the average cost per square foot of $1.325 and adjust to the 2009 building code level the square foot energy cost drops to $0.93c.  If we consider the minimum Energy Star level it would drop to $0.79c and if we consider the 40% improvement based on a tight energy efficient home the cost drops to around $0.56c per sq ft.

As all these calculations are scalable based on square footage it’s easy to compare different size homes and see where they are on the energy use scale.  However, don’t forget lifestyle can make a big difference in energy use and that is why this is just an approximation.  Further analysis can refine the process.

For more information go to

Green Home Energy Advisors: www.greenhomeenergyadvisors.com

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