Your 2009 Home Energy Makeover

Despite the recent steep decline in prices for fossil energy sources—highlighted by crude oil prices plunging from a high over $145 this summer to less than $40 in December—don’t assume that you’ll see an equal drop in your home or business energy bills anytime soon. (It’s complicated for a variety of reasons, but a more simple question to ask yourself is: Would you ever bet against your utility increasing your rates?)  And no one likely feels more pain now than low income families or those who have recently lost a job.  Earlier this week Matt Wald of the New York Times and my fellow NRDC blogger, Lane Burt, showed that momentum is gaining for a national goal to weatherize over 1 million homes per year with priority given to residences of low income families.  The theory goes that government investment in making 1 million existing homes energy efficient will create nearly 80,000 new green collar jobs and reduce the monthly utility bills for families who already spend large portions of their income on basic utility expenses. 

Holding the policy-talk aside, I propose that we seize this golden opportunity to be a part of the green revolution.  It's as easy as starting at home!    Here are some great tools and sources of information to help get you started:

  • NRDC’s Simple Steps for quick and easy actions and good habits to embrace.
  • Rocky Mountain Institute’s Cool Citizens: Household Solutions (My personal favorite). Provides a worksheet tool to help you lay out a long-term cost minimizing strategy to achieve ϋber “cool citizen” status and have greenest home on your block!
  • ENERGY STAR® for Home Improvement for a broad array of ideas to improve your home’s efficiency and ENERGY STAR for Appliances if you’re looking to replace old and less efficient appliances
  • Contact a professional to conduct a home energy study (a.k.a. audit).  Ask if they are certified through either the Building Performance Institute or Residential Energy Services Network and whether or not they are pricing in savings from rebates and other incentives offered by the government and your local utility provider.
  • Updated list of rebates from the federal government, as well as state and utility rebates depending on your location of residence.

Finally, don't feel like you need to be humble about your actions (this is America after all)!  Keep us posted on your progress, learn from other green citizens, and tell your neighbors how much greener you've become and how they can catch up to you.  Have a green and happy 2009!