A zero-energy home is one that produces as much energy as it uses. Although going zero energy requires a good deal of effort and planning, it is something that can be accomplished by anyone:

  • Most low-flow showerheads and faucets aerate water, which means you use less energy heating it. There is often no need to replace an entire sink, the important part is the aerator (the screw-on tip of the faucet), which determines maximum flow.
  • Teach children and other members of the household to follow this rule: If no one’s in the room, it doesn’t need to be on. In other words, shut off TVs, computers and lights before leaving a room, every single time.
  • Choose energy-saving incandescent bulbs for an easy change that will use 25% less energy than the old incandescent bulbs. Remember that they contain a small amount of mercury, which means they must be recycled rather than thrown in the trash.
  • Any deep holes or cracks in your home’s walls, ceiling or floors can be a potential source of air leaks. Investing just a few dollars in caulk and weatherstripping (or foam sealant for larger gaps) is one of the easiest and least expensive ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency.
  • New window air conditioners are nearly twice as efficient as older ones, so springing for a new unit could cut your home cooling bill in half this summer. Look for an energy-efficiency ratio (EFR) of 10 or more for window AC units.
  • Single-pane windows are a major culprit of heat loss during the winter months. Upgrading to low-U-value, low-E windows can save you up to 25% of your heating bill.
  • When you are ready to purchase a new refrigerator, dishwasher or washer, look for the Energy Star label to be sure you are getting an appliance that is up to the latest standards of energy efficiency.
  • Installing solar panels is the best known option for homeowners today, though in some regions you can actually choose to purchase renewable energy from your local power company.