Spending a few minutes with this software can provide as much education as reading several books on energy saving construction ... in real terms ... with your own house as an example. The tips provided along the way are very helpful and having the "Energy Efficient House" costs listed gives you a great target to shoot for.

Product Review of Online Energy Analysis Software - The Home Energy Saver

Bob Hetherington | EarthToys

Online Energy Analysis Software by Bob Hetherington

Spending a few minutes with this software can provide as much education as reading several books on energy saving construction ... in real terms ... with your own house as an example. The tips provided along the way are very helpful and having the "Energy Efficient House" costs listed gives you a great target to shoot for.

ne of the main purposes of EarthToys.com is to help sort out the information available on the internet into a reference for readers to use to learn about Alternative Energy issues. To achieve that, I need to find the information and digest it as well. To that end I will start ... at the beginning :-)

The first step to achieving energy independence is to find out where you are using most of it ... and in most cases that will be your home. There are several online sources for analyzing home energy use and I visited one ...  The Home Energy Saver ... to see how they work. I must say that I was impressed with how easy this site is to use and the valuable information that it gave me with just a few minutes of time invested.

You start out by inputting your zip code so the program knows your climate and energy cost data. Unfortunately this only helps if you live in the US (or close by with similar climate data). The next screen quickly gives you a breakdown of energy use in an average home in this climate plus a target savings that could be achieved with some energy saving steps taken.

Estimated Annual Energy Bill for Average House

The page also gives you links to several suggested energy saving upgrades and suggestions.

Suggested Upgrades to This House
HeatingandCooling:
Upgrade ceiling insulation to at least R-38.
Upgrade walls insulation to at least R-11.
When replacing windows choose windows with low-E glass.
Air sealing can reduce energy use for heating and cooling.
Choose an ENERGY STAR-labeled model when replacing your furnace.
Seal duct joints with mastic or high-quality duct tape, insulate ducts in unconditioned spaces.
Install a programmable thermostat.
Water Heating:
Wrap your water heater to reduce your water heating costs, if your water heater is more than 10 years old.
Major Appliances:
Replace your refrigerator with an Energy Star labeled model if purchased before 1990.
Miscellaneous:
Replace TVs and VCRs with ENERGY STAR-labeled models.
Lighting:
Replace high use lights with fluorescent or compact flourescent fixtures.

While this is handy for a general overview ... we would like to get more specific about our own home. The next step then is to push the button and answer a few questions about your home. These are general questions such as the age of the house, general insulation information, number of windows and doors, energy prices etc.

Once you answer these questions (pretty simple stuff) you get another evaluation of your energy use and the system sets you up with a "session ID" that you can use next time use the site. That way all the data that you input is stored for future sessions ... a very nice feature. Here's what a recalculated energy analysis looks like.

Estimated Annual Energy Bill in this House

As you can see ... the table has changed a bit in that there are several links down the left side. These take you to various forms that ask more detailed questions so you can hone in on a very close estimate for your specific home. As you go through the steps, not only do you get closer to your actual home configuration but you learn about what is using the most energy in your specific home. If you are at all close with your answers ... the final result should give you a close estimate of your actual energy bill and a nice breakdown of where the money is going. Since your answers are saved under the session ID it is easy to go back and change a few things to get an idea of how much you can save by carrying out some of the suggested renovations etc.

Spending a few minutes with this software can provide as much education as reading several books on energy saving construction ... in real terms ... with your own house as an example. The tips provided along the way are very helpful and having the "Energy Efficient House" costs listed gives you a great target to shoot for.

In addition to the energy analysis ... the Home Energy Saver website contains lots of valuable information to help you learn about the topic. This is a great starting point on the road to energy self sufficiency. First we must identify where the energy goes ... then we can begin to plug the holes one at a time ... and then we can find a way to generate the energy we need.

If you have your favorite online or downloadable Energy Analysis Software please let me know (news@earthtoys.com) so I can have a look and add it to our Software Library.

The Home Energy Saver is designed to help consumers identify the best ways to save energy in their homes, and find the resources to make the savings happen. The Home Energy Saver was the first Internet-based tool for calculating energy use in residential buildings. The project is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as part of the national ENERGY STAR Program for improving energy efficiency in homes.


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