Advanced Energy Efficiency & Environmental Quality

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Introduction to Home Energy Efficiency

We believe that you can make your home more energy efficient, more comfortable, and healthier to live in. In fact, we think anyone can. It's true that our homes are complex, interconnected systems, but understanding how your house functions and how it can function more efficiently is less complicated than you might think.  Spend a few minutes here, and we will take the mystery out of home energy efficiency by giving you the information and tools you need to get started.

This section is divided into seven topics: Home Energy Audits, Air Sealing, Insulation, Keeping Cool, Energy Efficient Lighting, Water and Energy, and Air Quality. Within each of these sections you will find an introductory article and several sub-articles that provide the opportunity to dig deeper into a particular aspect of that topic.

Your House is a System. No matter where you start, you will soon discover that the core elements of home energy efficiency are interrelated. Sealing up the leaks and cracks in your house using the information you gather in the Air Sealing section, for example, will help dramatically reduce cooling and heating costs, reduce the risk of mold and other potential threats to indoor air quality, and help preserve the integrity of your insulation. When you start to seal up your house, you will need to take care to use mechanical ventilation to ensure a steady supply of fresh clean air in your living space to make up for the so-called "natural ventilation" you've cut off.

Conversely, fail to seal up leaks and you may invite mold, indoor air issues, and expensive heating bills. Sound familiar? It is. You stub your toe, you start to limp, your hip hurts, which throws your back out of line... The truth is, we're pretty comfortable with interrelated systems. We've just got to remember that's what we're dealing with in our homes.

Begin with an Energy Audit. Chances are you received a 10 page owner's manual in 15 languages when you bought that digital watch for $45. So where's the owner's manual for the biggest investment you've ever made?  Tradespeople are not necessarily experts in building science. The person who installs a furnace, gas range or water heater, let alone a new bathroom, may not appreciate the integrity of your house as a system. For this reason alone, (if not for 10 others, here) it makes sense to hire a certified home energy auditor before you begin to tackle your home's energy efficiency. In fact, before you do any work on your house at all.

Your audit report will provide a road map as you set out on the home energy path. It will reveal where your house needs muscle most, and where your energy retrofit dollars will go furthest. If you've already had some work done, find out what's paying off, and where to focus next. From detecting energy hogs to alerting you to faulty systems and safety hazards, a home energy audit is your healthy, efficient home's best start.

No matter how you choose to take on your house, stop back here often. We are constantly updating this and all of our sections to provide you with the tools you need to take on your house. Sure you can. And when you do, you'll find yourself living in a more comfortable, healthier, and more efficient house. And we haven't even begun to talk about what you'll save on energy costs.

Whatever motivates you to get started, get started here. You'll be glad you did.