Based on field experience conducting hundreds of in-person Home Energy Score assessments, trends quickly emerge related to the recommendations for improvements. Recommended improvements for home energy assets could be represented by a somewhat limited menu of options that can be logically prioritized for homeowners independent of an assessment.
Save Energy and Money Now:
- Attic insulation (learn more)
- Floor insulation (learn more)
- Air sealing (learn more)
- Duct sealing and insulation (learn more)
- Other ways to save (learn more)
Choose Efficient Replacements Later:
Energy eScore is a bulk analysis software that can provide all households at a city-wide scale free information about their Home Energy Score, and encourage self-motivated residents as well as proactive cities and utilities to make cost-effective energy upgrades. Bulk analysis at scale can help cities/utilities/lenders/homeowners use funds more cost-effectively to impact change through energy upgrades rather than spending money on assessments with low project implementation rates. This approach helps reach scale and promote more impactful in-person assessments that are directly related to a project, home valuation, or financing eligibility screening.
Upgrades that improve Home Energy Score include improvements to the house "assets", such as: windows, walls, floors, roofs, insulation, heating system, cooling system, and water heater. Home Energy Score does not consider upgrades to lighting, appliances or behavioral changes (e.g. change thermostat settings). A home’s energy use impacts comfort, indoor air quality, and monthly costs. According to the U.S. Census, the average household pays $2,500 in energy costs every year, a higher annual cost than either property tax or insurance. Energy upgrades can be used by appraisers and mortgage lenders for energy-related financing products. A study by Elevate Energy (2015) found that listings that include energy costs, even when those costs were high, sold for a higher percentage of the asking price and spent less time on the market than comparable homes that did not disclose energy costs.
The listed improvements are based on the general categories from the U.S. Department of Energy Home Energy Scoring Methodology, and are not home specific. For an official home energy score assessment with home specific energy improvement recommendations, homeowners can contact a local certified assessor using the U.S. Department of Energy Find an Assessor tool.
Attic Insulation: Many older homes have little or no attic insulation. In a typical vented attic, loose-fill insulation such as blown cellulose or blown fiberglass can be installed on the attic floor to improve thermal performance. Unvented attics or cathedral ceilings should be insulated in the ceiling. If your home has little to no attic insulation, adding some (don't forgetting the attic hatch), may improve your home energy score.
Floor Insulation: Air seal and insulate the floor to improve the overall thermal performance of the building. A vented crawlspace should have insulation between the floor joists. A basement can be insulated at either the ceiling or the walls (depending on the space, basement wall insulation may provide more dry, usable conditioned space for home occupants and for HVAC equipment). Insulating an otherwise uninsulated floor may improve your home energy score.
Air Sealing: Air sealing prevents unwanted air from leaking into the house and conditioned air from leaking out. Installed correctly, home air sealing can reduce utility costs while improving comfort, indoor air quality, and durability. Air sealing penetrations through exterior walls (window and door seals, lights, plumbing, HVAC, electrical, vents, outlets, lights) may also improve your home energy score.
Duct Sealing and Insulation: Ideally, ducts should be located in conditioned space (e.g. within a dropped ceiling, between floors, in an insulated basement or crawlspace, or in an unvented attic that is insulated along the roof line). However, many homes have ducts that are located in an unconditioned space (e.g. vented attic or vented crawlspace). Ducts in unconditioned space should be sealed and insulated to prevent heat loss and air leaks outside of the conditioned home. Air sealing and insulating ducts with approved products may improve your home energy score.
ENERGY STAR Cooling: If you need to replace your cooling equipment, always look for an ENERGY STAR label. It helps determine if the equipment will be more efficient over its lifetime and it may help increase your home energy score. This equipment is also usually cost effective over its lifetime because it saves so much money on utility bills. If the design cooling load is low (below around 14,000 Btuh capacity) due to high insulation and air sealing levels or climate, consider alternative lower-load cooling sources such as ducted or ductless variable refrigerant flow heat pumps.
ENERGY STAR Heating: If you need to replace your heating equipment, always look for an ENERGY STAR label. It helps determine if the equipment will be more efficient over its lifetime and it may help increase your home energy score. This equipment is also usually cost effective over its lifetime because it saves so much money on utility bills.
ENERGY STAR Water heating: If you need to replace your water heater, always look for an ENERGY STAR label. It helps determine if the equipment will be more efficient over its lifetime and it may help increase your home energy score. This equipment is also usually cost effective over its lifetime because it saves so much money on utility bills.
Insulated Sheathing: Most homes use some form of OSB sheet wood product to attach studs to each other and help form a sheer wall. If you ever need to re-side or re-roof your house, consider adding insulated sheathing to the outside of your walls. It can greatly improve the thermal performance of the home if installed correctly, even with just an inch of insulated foam sheathing, and may increase your home energy score.
ENERGY STAR Windows: If you need to replace your windows, always look for an ENERGY STAR label. It helps determine if the windows will be more efficient over their lifetime and it may help increase your home energy score. ENERGY STAR windows are more likely to be cost effective over their lifetime because they save money on utility bills.
Wall Insulation: Walls in existing homes may or may not contain insulation. Older homes built prior to when energy codes required wall insulation most likely do not have any insulation in the walls. Missing wall insulation can be identified by visual inspection, probing through existing penetrations, or inferred (IR) camera. The thermal performance of your home and your home energy score may benefit from considering a wall insulation retrofit.
Always look for the ENERGY STAR label: