The federal government is planning to spend most of the next year developing a national home energy scoring program.
(Image: The photo shows a device called a Kill A Watt meter, which allows you to determine how much electricity any home electrical product is using.)
Here at RaisingIslands, we’ve developed a prototype Hawai’i Home Energy Score program, which will be quicker, simpler, and user-friendly.
On its face, the Feds’ idea of a home energy score is a great idea. But our caveats: Must it be so mired in the molasses of bureaucracy that it takes months and months to develop? And must it be so complex that you need “trained and certified contractors” to run the numbers? And you already know there will be stuff about furnaces and in-floor heating that make it minimally useful for Hawai’i.
And really, doesn’t the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program already provide a complex environmental design scheme that requires trained and certified staff?
Microsoft has a generic home energy rating system on which you can plug in your neighborhood and home. It’s called the Hohm Score, but it’s an estimate rather than an actual assessment.
So let’s develop the Hawai’i Home Energy Score system. We’ll use a 10-point system, and allow fractional points. This system won’t work well for apartments, and we welcome comments that will help fine tune the system.
Hawaii Home Energy Score: Draft One.
1. Lights. Walk through your house and check every light (including exterior lights) that you or someone in the household has switched on anytime during the past week. If at least 75 percent are compact fluorescent or LED, give yourself half a point. How many are turned on nightly? If none of those is incandescent, give yourself another half point. (Bonus: .25 points if you have skylights or other daylighting options, if you scored less than 1 on the main scoring.)
2. Water heating. Do you use a solar water heater ? One point. Gas or instantaneous heater, half a point. (If you have and use both, you only get the half point). Total possible: 1 point.
3. Insulation: Is there effective insulation under your roof? Half a point. Alternatively, an attic fan is good for half a point. Are your walls also insulated? A quarter point. Are windows designed to reflect heat? A quarter point . Total possible: 1 point.
4. Water use: Are your toilets low-flow (1.3 gallons per flush)? Half a point. Are shower heads and sink faucets low-flow (2 gallons per minute or less)? Half a point. (Most Hawai’I water is pumped using electricity.) Total possible: 1 point.
5. Air circulation: Windows that open and fans. One point. Air conditioning, no points.
6. Are your appliances newer Energy Star appliances? We’ll keep it simple. Since, after a water heater, the biggest energy hog in the house is a refrigerator, if it’s Energy Star, give yourself one point. If you have a second refrigerator and it’s Energy Star, make that half a point. If a second reefer is non-Energy Star refrigerator, even if you have an Energy Star in the kitchen, you get no points. Total possible: 1 point.
7. Laundry: Half a point for an Energy Star efficient washer. One half point if you have and exclusively use a clothesline. Make that a quarter point if you have a clothesline but still occasionally use a dryer. Total possible: 1 point.
8. Grid: Are you totally off-grid on renewable power, or grid-connected but have no net electricity draw? 1 point. Photovotaic panels on the roof, but still also a net user of utility power? Half a point. Total possible: 1 point.
9. Phantom loads: Walk around your house with the lights off at night. One point if there are three or fewer little red or green LED lights on—on computers, televisions, entertainment centers, charging stations, routers, emergency flashlights, etc. Half a point if there are four to six. No points if there are seven or more. (You can use timers to control those that don’t need to be on all night.) Total possible: 1 point.
10. Good habits: Do you and your family turn off lights in vacant rooms, make sure clothes washing loads are near full, recycle and so forth? If you think you’re doing all you can, give yourself a point. If you’re doing okay but could improve, half a point. If you’re more brown than green, no points and resolve to move up in this ranking. Total possible: 1 point.
This is a first take on the Hawaii Home Energy Score. Please add comments to this post or email us at email@example.com with ideas for improvements.
In the interest of full disclosure, I got a 7.5 ranking on this scale of 10. But I see a couple of places where I can improve.
A great resource for information on home energy use is Blue Planet Foundation’s site, http://blueplanetfoundation.org/home-energy.
© Jan TenBruggencate 2010