The Science of Sustainability

Keeping Score

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Along with your Home Energy Score you also get a list of cost-effective energy upgrades for your home. Click here for a larger version of the image.

For most men of my generation a first car was like a right of passage. The car could be an old beater, or a muscle car; it didn’t matter so much as long as we felt unique driving it. And we all knew the basic nomenclature—horsepower and miles per gallon.

I have a dream that someday homeowners across the land will feel about their houses and apartments the same way people of my generation felt about their first car. They will all know the basic nomenclature—kilowatt-hours and/or Btu per square foot per year. Or something like that.

This Tuesday I found out my dream is becoming a reality. The Department of Energy announced a project, the Home Energy Score, to:

• increase the energy literacy of homeowners;

• support a growing segment of the economy—people who do energy audits and retrofits on houses (think jobs, jobs, jobs);

• put our nation on a path of energy independence through conservation;

• make our planet a healthier place to live in; and

• do all of the above without creating any new legislation or spending taxpayer dollars.

The project is being piloted in nine cities throughout the United States and the plan is for it to go national by later 2011. The key components of the program include:

• a set of Workforce Guidelines for people entering the home energy field—what they need to do the job and do it well, and gain the trust of their customers;

• a software program that will allow home energy professionals to do a one- or two-hour audit of a home, give it a Home Energy Score from one to ten, compare it’s energy use to its neighbors, and immediately provide the homeowner with a list of cost-effective energy retrofit options; and

• low interest loans from qualifying lenders to finance the retrofits.

Soon every homeowner and me will be able to brag about our houses to friends, relatives, coworkers, and neighbors—as we used to brag about our cars. “I have a 1951 California Bungalow with three bedrooms, two baths, and it only uses 500 kilowatt-hours a year for heating and cooling. It’s got a Home Energy Score of 9. So, what are you living in?”

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Category: Energy, Engineering, Environment

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Jim Gunshinan

About the Author ()

Jim Gunshinan is the editor of Home Energy, the magazine of sustainable home building and renovation.