Home Energy Makeover
Energy efficiency starts at home
Are you ready for a home energy makeover?
Hawaii Home Energy Makeover TV Show 2010: How Hawaii Gets its Energy
The cheapest electricity is the electricity that you don't have to buy. Energy efficiency is the largest, cheapest, safest and fastest energy option we have available. The first step toward our clean energy future starts at home. If all the households in Hawaii cut their energy bill in half, we'd save $1,000,000 per day in energy costs. That's a lot of money staying in the islands instead of going overseas for oil. So first, let's take a look at what a typical Hawaii home uses:
Source: Hawaiian Electric Company
How do you get started?
Blue Planet’s brief guide to residential energy efficiency offers energy efficiency tips that can cut your electric bill in half. Hawaii Energy, the state's official energy efficiency administrator, provides incentives, tips, and information on how you can save energy. Ratepayers all contribute to funding Hawaii Energy, so be sure to take advantage of the rebates and incentives that they offer.
Before you get started with your home energy improvements, you may want to do an energy audit to see where you can make the greatest difference in your energy consumption. You can do an energy audit yourself, or you can hire a professional to come over and tell you where the energy savings are found.
You can find a lot of resources online for completing your own home energy audit. Hawaiian Electric offers an online Home Energy Check, and the Department of Energy offers some tips for a self-audit. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory provides an online energy efficiency survey as well.
Tools of the Trade
An old adage reminds us “you can only manage what you can measure.” New tools make it easy to measure how much energy your various appliances and devices are using. A number of different electricity use monitors from different manufacturers are available.
Many of these monitors allow you to plug in an electrical device, such as the Belkin Conserve Insight shown on the left. The monitor will measure how much energy the device is using and will tell you how much it costs to operate it. These are available at Home Depot, City Mill, and other home improvement stores in Hawai‘i.
More sophisticated models can track exactly how much electricity your home is consuming at any given moment, allowing you to switch on or off various appliances and electric devices to see how much they are consuming individually. Some popular devices are the wireless “Owl” and the T.E.D. "The Energy Detective" (shown below). Some of these will interface with your home computer and allow you to record changes so you can track your usage over time. These are incredibly useful tools for helping you identify where you can make the biggest energy improvements--and save money.
Professional Home Energy Audits
Professional energy audits are done by energy experts and generally go into great detail. The energy auditor should do a room-by-room examination of the residence, as well as a thorough examination of past utility bills. The U.S. Department of Energy has a good online resource for what to look for in a professional energy auditor and what is involved in the process. A few of the key tips that they recommend:
- Get several references, and contact them all. Ask if they were satisfied with the work.
- Call the Better Business Bureau and ask about any complaints against the company.
- Make sure the energy auditor uses a calibrated blower door.
- Make sure they do thermographic inspections or contract another company to conduct one.