How do I conduct my own energy audit? Is installing a tankless water heater worth it? How do I know if I have enough insulation? Those were just some of the questions asked in today's Twitter #askEnergy chat sponsored by the Department of Energy. Clearly, with the arrival of cooler temperatures, saving energy and money is on the minds of consumers. And the DOE advised, much as Consumer Reports always does, that the best place to start is by sealing the leaks in your home.
When the hosts turned the table on their Twitter followers and asked what their favorite energy-saving projects were they got a variety of answers including: "Installing LED lights! Man do they look cool!" "Last year I insulated my attic with cc spray foam and we have seen reduced energy bills." "Sealed my ducts and home sealed/insulated my attic. 2nd floor is comfortable year-round. $ savings nice too."
The chat was held to highlight the DOE's Energy Savers website, which has been revamped and relaunched to include more articles and interactive features that show low-cost ways for homeowners to reduce their energy bills. The first two how-to projects focus on caulking and weatherstripping and explain how to seal air leaks around windows and door frames including the cost of materials and the time needed to complete each project.
Recently Consumer Reports asked some Americans to "Test your Energy IQ" and not everyone got a passing grade. For example, few people knew that although today's homes are 30 percent bigger, they actually consume about the same amount of energy as homes from the 1970s. Most respondents knew that a side-by-side refrigerator uses more energy than a television but then homes usually have one refrigerator and multiple TV sets.
When Consumer Reports tests televisions, refrigerators and other appliances, it factors in how much each model costs to run annually. We also have some of the most extensive test results of energy-saving CFL and LED lightbulbs, which are being phased in as incandescents are being phased out. So in short, making a number of small changes can result in big savings.
—Mary H.J. Farrell