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Green Homes—Online Planning Tools
The Home Energy Saver
Get a good start on what you can do to save money by using the Home Energy Saver, provided by the U.S. Department of Energy. The Home Energy Saver was the first Internet-based tool for calculating residential energy use. Nearly a million people visit the site each year; 90 percent of them are homeowners and renters.
Enter your ZIP code and general estimates of potential energy use and savings opportunities immediately pop up. Enter more details and click the calculator. A summary outlines areas that could need improvements and possible savings you might see. You can vary the energy-efficiency assumptions and retrofit costs as well and recalculate the table. The final detailed report is a good starting point for gathering specific costs and savings for your market.
Energy-Efficient Rehab Advisor
This tool, which also links to the Home Energy Saver, was developed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to help improve energy efficiency during rehab and renovation. Brian Sullivan, HUD supervisor for public affairs, says the tool can be used as a “blunt instrument to help determine cost savings” on home improvement projects. Sullivan noted that prices will vary anyway, depending on where people live.
The Advisor first asks for basics and lets you select a project. Choose “Whole House,” for instance, and it provides informative measures that would fit many homes of that age and type in your region. At the bottom of the page, there are links to other earth-friendly improvement tasks and other resources.
Energy Star Home Energy Yardstick
This yardstick will estimate the energy efficiency of your home. Enter basic information, including your utility bills for the year. In seconds, a quick efficiency ranking compares your home with homes similar to yours. It can be a real eye-opener and project motivator if your home is among the less efficient.
The yardstick’s quick summary also provides suggested energy-efficiency and savings targets and includes advice for how to obtain them. The various tips, such as “heat and cool efficiently” or “seal up your home,” then link to more detailed information. The site can help you understand your home’s possible problems and what you might consider to correct them—and save yourself money.
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