Like a lot of Americans, the changes in the residential housing situation have affected my directly. The biggest impact may be the simple fact that I have stayed put longer than I ever have before – over 11 years. This comes on the heels of an 11 year period in which my family and I lived in 4 houses in 3 cities.

As you might imagine, there are a lot of nice things about having put down real roots.  What might not occur to you is something that it has allowed me to pursue – a long term approach to making my house more energy efficient. Over those 11 years, my house has gotten slightly larger but my overall energy consumption is down more than 30%.  Pretty neat.

Some of the reduction has come from changes in occupancy, but most of it is due to improvements we have made to the house and to the things inside the house that use energy. I am sharing them with you here, and ask that you weigh in with your experience with similar improvements or recommend what else you have done. Here they are, in an order that reflects my calculus on simplicity (ease of installation), savings, and first cost:

  1. Installed ENERGY STAR rated compact fluorescent light bulbs in lamps, closets, and ceiling fixtures. Amazed how many people and businesses still haven’t done this in appropriate areas. They are inexpensive and available in styles to fit almost any fixture. And LEDs are next on my list
  2. Had 12 inches of insulation blown into my attic. Immediate noticeable improvement in comfort upstairs and reduction in energy bills.
  3. Installed good programmable thermostats to control my HVAC units. Setbacks and schedules work at home just like they do in an office or store – they save a lot of money and automate comfort while still allowing the occasional override.
  4. Installed new high-efficiency HVAC equipment, including condensing units and furnaces. This is the most expensive thing we did but it had immediate benefits in terms of savings, comfort, and reduced maintenance and repair expenses.
  5. Replaced my dangerous and inefficient old solid wood garage door with a new metal insulated door. Quieter, safer, and really reduced heat loss or gain between the house and garage.
  6. Installed a new, more efficient ENERGY STAR rated water heater.
  7. Installed new ENERGY STAR rated double pane windows to replace old single pane windows. Much less drafty, quieter, and more temperate near them, and they are easier to clean.
  8. Purchased new ENERGY STAR rated appliances – a washer and dryer, dishwasher, and refrigerator – that are more efficient than their predecessors.

So what do you think? How low can a typical homeowner go? What motivates us to pursue energy efficiency? We would love to hear.

Burton Energy Group provides integrated energy management solutions for the commercial sector. Their services include strategic planning and risk management, utility bill management, energy procurement, energy and water conservation, utility budgeting, energy audits, sustainability programs, and management reports. Burton Energy Group represents owners and managers for some of the most respected companies in the commercial sector. Visit the company’s website at for more information.