Solar panels on your roof, rain barrels connected to your gutters and a hybrid in your driveway – symbols that let your neighbors know you’re a lean, green energy saving machine. But what about cutting back your energy consumption in ways that nobody can admire from the sidewalk? Is that sexy?
We’d say so. Most homeowners (and Obama) would agree that “insulation is sexy” if it means getting to spend money on life’s luxuries rather than on energy bills. Without significantly changing their lifestyles, homeowners who improve their home’s energy efficiency can reduce their energy costs by 30 percent while cutting back their environmental impact and making themselves more energy independent. For a homeowner who spends $3,000 per year on utilities, that’s a savings of $900 per year.
Many people don’t realize the possibilities of energy efficiency and think the solution to climate change and the need for energy independence means people must invest in renewable energy systems. But even with a federal tax credit that will cover up to 30 percent of a renewable system’s cost, solar and wind are still out of most people’s price range.
However, a lot of homeowners can afford to add insulation to their attics and seal the air leaks in their home’s exterior shell and HVAC ductwork with caulk and duct mastic, especially when they will receive a return on their investment every year through their utility bills.
On a grander scale, energy efficiency can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1.1 gigatons (i.e. one billion tons of carbon), save the U.S. economy $1.2 trillion and create 1.7 million jobs nationwide, according to, “Unlocking energy efficiency in the U.S. economy,” a study completed by the McKinsey Global Institute. That’s hot!
Crowds may not be knocking down the doors of their local energy auditors to be a part of the trend at the moment, but local utility programs throughout the U.S. are working to educate homeowners about energy efficiency and provide them with financial incentives. Everyday, more and more homeowners are grabbing the famous “low-hanging fruit,” and taking a bite.
So, for this Earth Day, if you’re sick of being green and you’d rather be sexy, have your home audited for its energy efficiency. If you’ve already done that, encourage a friend or family member to do the same by sharing your experience with them.