How much do Homeowners care about Improving the Energy Efficiency of Their Homes?
According to a 2013 survey conducted by The Demand Institute, 71% of households say that energy efficiency is very important. Of that group, only about half consider their home to be energy efficient. A slight discrepancy.
The majority of people concerned with energy efficiency hope that it will reduce their energy bills. Rightfully so, high energy bills are one of the biggest issues facing households today.
The average household spends anywhere from $2000 - $4500 per year on utilities.
For some, this amount is decreasing with a switch towards more energy efficient products. For others, these bills may actually be increasing due to the same reason. In a 2016 study by Deloitte, it was found that Millennials and wealthier Generation X households are the leaders of the energy efficiency movement. Their interest and investment in energy efficiency such as solar leaves the burden of higher utility bills on lower income households as well as renters.
(image by Deloitte)
However, this outcome is not definitive. There are steps towards energy efficiency that do not require expensive new products or appliance upgrades. Surprisingly, it’s not even the cost of these products that creates reluctance, it’s misconceptions due to lack of explanation about energy savings.
For instance, switching to LED lights is a great alternative to fluorescent lights, but leaving the LED lights on longer simply because they are more energy efficient is not going to reduce your bills.
Misconceptions about Energy Efficiency
New Homes are more energy efficient because they are built to code.
Not necessarily true. Building codes change frequently, and what is standardized might not be best for your home’s energy savings. Even newer homes can benefit from additional energy efficient products.
Energy Improvements should pay for themselves over time.
Energy improvements will provide significant cost savings over time, but this is primarily dependent on usage. Unless you’re switching energy sources to geothermal or solar which drastically changes your energy system altogether, you’re still going to pay for what you use.
“Energy is the only product we buy on a daily basis without knowing how much it costs until a month later.” - Cliff Majersik (Executive Director of the Institute for Market Transformation)
Easy Energy Improvements for any Household
1. Ductwork + HVAC tune up
This is potentially the biggest energy saver. Even a small leak in ductwork can be a loss of ⅓ of your home’s conditioned air. Sealing your ductwork can lead to as much as $400 in savings per year.
2. Caulk or Seal Leaks in Windows, Crawlspaces, Plumbing lines, and Attics
An air-tight home will allow your HVAC system to work at its highest efficiency. Without cracks or air leaks you can save over $200 on your energy bill each year. Upgrading insulation can lead to even more savings.
3. Programmable thermostat
Allows homeowner control over how much energy is used. The average home uses about 45% of its energy for heating and cooling. As a rule of thumb: every degree you turn your thermostat down, you save 1% of your energy. Programmable thermostat can save up to $180 per year.
4. Replacing 5 Most Frequently Used Bulbs with LEDs
LED lights have dropped in price over the last few years, making them affordable for most households. As mentioned earlier, a product improvement is only beneficial is behavior changes with it. LED lights can save about $70 a year on your energy bill.
If you are interested in saving money AND improving the energy intake of your home, Energy star has a discount and rebate finder that tracks incentives offered for switching to energy efficient products.
Also, DSIRE has a database of federal, state, local, and utility rebates searchable by state.
See What Energy Efficiency
Could Look Like in Your Home
Watch the full series of The Ultimate Energy Star Home!