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My personal experience: How to save energy at home

Since I began a serious quest to reduce energy use at home more than four years ago, I have seen an average drop in my energy and water bills of approximately 17 percent annually. This year it should be an 8 percent savings – but that’s pretty good, too. Overall, our energy bill has decreased 43 percent, even though prices have increased.

So, how did we do it? Following is a list of some of the improvements and actions we took in our house over the past four years to reduce energy use.

• Completed a home-energy audit including blower door duct test to identify leakage.

• Started tracking electricity, gas and water use monthly on Excel.

• Sealed all ducts in the forced-air system using mastic.

• Balanced the air flow in the forced-air system, to make it more comfortable and reduce waste.

• Replaced the old refrigerator with highly efficient Energy Star unit.

• Replaced garage refrigerator with smaller Energy Star unit.

• Installed Energy Star ceiling fans.

• Set thermostat to 78 F in summer, 62 F in winter. Adjusted clothing and got used to it.

• Sealed around can lights to reduce air leakage.

• Replaced 90 percent of light bulbs with fluorescent bulbs.

• Insulated hot-water pipes with high-density foam.

• Shortened shower times.

• Turned off all landscape lighting permanently except for special occasions.

• Installed energy monitor to the main panel, to monitor energy use daily.

• Installed motion detector energy strip on all home office equipment except central processing unit (CPU), so it all turns off when I am not in the office. Manually turn off CPU.

• Plugged TV and all home entertainment equipment into strip outlet and turned off strip outlet when not in use (except for cable box).

• Installed solar-powered attic fan to reduce heat build-up.

• Cleaned solar panels yearly to increase efficiency.

• Moved roof jacks to eliminate all shading on solar panels.

• Practiced “turn lights off when you leave a room.” (Yikes, I’m becoming my mom!)

• Installed Smart AC controller (free through PG&E) to reduce energy use when the air conditioner is on.

• Kept AC off, except on the most blistering days.

We installed the following items more than nine years ago: solar panels, a tankless water heater, an on-demand water recirculation pump (Metlund ACT) and a high-efficiency forced-air unit

It’s great to see that all these actions make a difference, and that my energy bill has decreased significantly. I also feel better that I’m trying to reduce my global-warming contribution. Because I’m a green building and sustainability professional, I know there is much more I can do. And, my intention is to keep doing more, a little bit each year, one step at a time. That’s all we can each do, starting wherever we are.

I hope this list gives you some ideas. If you haven’t already done a home energy audit, I encourage you to start there, to help you create a roadmap for identifying steps you can take to reduce your energy use now and over the coming years. EnnovationZ is a local audit company based in Mountain View with a relationship with GreenTown Los Altos. The company will donate 10 percent of your audit cost to GreenTown.

For more information, visit www.EnnovationZ.com.

Kacey Fitzpatrick is executive director of GreenTown Los Altos and principal of Avalon Enterprises Inc., a green building consulting firm. For more information, visit www.greentownlosaltos.org or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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