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Green Homes—Online Planning Tools
Interactive resources on costs and payback
“What ifs” can be a great way to get the ball rolling on home energy-efficiency projects: What if you added more insulation? What if solar thermal heated your water? What if your old refrigerator was replaced with a more energy-efficient one?
Now homeowners have access to a growing variety of interactive green tools, on websites of government agencies, organizations, and businesses, that can be used to estimate potential financial and environmental returns. The tools cover many areas and their results include tips and resources. Before you log on, gather basic information about your home, including:
- Electricity and fuel usage. Utility companies should be able to provide you with the amount of fuel (oil, natural gas, or propane) that you used last year, as well as the number of kilowatt-hours (kWh) you used either by the month or the year. Note the price that you pay per kWh.
- Square footage. Measure the length and width of your house. For example, a two-story house with an unconditioned basement might be 25 feet wide and 40 feet long. Multiply those numbers to get one floor’s square footage (25 x 40 = 1,000). Multiply that number by the number of floors of conditioned space (1,000 x 2 = 2,000) to get an approximate figure.
- Appliance information. Check your water heater, refrigerator, stove, clothes washer and dryer for such information as age, estimated amount of energy consumed, size, brand name, model number and any variable settings such as temperature on the water heater.
- Window details. If you purchased your present windows, look up the paperwork. Note their age and frame composition and whether they are double pane or have low-E argon gas. Count how many windows you have, get their approximate sizes, and note which directions they face.
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