Getting a handle on your home's energy use is an important first step to improving efficiency. You can do a simple assessment yourself using on-line tools, or have a professional energy auditor perform a more thorough audit. Then, use ENERGY STAR resources to get guidance on home improvement projects to enhance energy efficiency, lower utility bills, and increase comfort.
Start with your Home Energy Yardstick
Most homes use 40%-50% of their energy for heating and cooling air. The next most energy intense use is water-heating (up to 20%), then refrigeration (12%), then major appliances, lighting and other electronics.
If you have five minutes and your last 12 months of utility bills, use the Home Energy Yardstick to compare your home's energy use to similar homes across the country and see how your home measures up. Then, use Home Energy Adviser to get recommendations for energy-saving home improvements for typical homes in your area.
For most homes, you'll have a Loading Order that defines the best steps to take first, which will maximize your energy and financial savings.
1) Seal and Insulate
2) Duct Sealing
3) Replace your Heating and Air-Conditioning Units
4) Solar Water Heater
5) Windows and Doors
6) Replace your Refrigerator
7) Increase Lighting
8) Smart Appliances: Programmable Thermostats, Washer/Dryer, Dish-Washers, etc.
NOTE: Only after you do the Energy Efficiency Work on your home or business should you consider Renewable Energy and Energy Storage Appliances. Anyone who tells you different is a huckster.