Can Your Family Win a Gold Medal for Home Energy Efficiency?

Posted: September 30, 2013

Energy Usage Statistics

If there were a competition for the most energy-efficient home on your block, would you be the winner? BEGIN THE COMPETITION RIGHT NOW by marking the box for each statement that is true; then ADD UP YOUR POINTS to see if you end up on the winners’ podium.

Our heating system is less than 15 years old

Why It Matters: If you didn’t check this box, consider replacing your heating system soon; the performance and reliability of heating equipment typically deteriorates after 15 years (sooner if maintenance has been neglected). At minimum, a new system should help you save up to 20% on your annual heating costs. (If you significantly improve system efficiency, savings can be even higher.) You’ll feel the difference in comfort too. You’ll also save on repairs because you’ll minimize the potential of a system breakdown, a common problem with old systems.

Finish Line: A family that spends $3,000 per year to heat their home and reduces their annual costs by 20% save $600. If the new system costs $3,000 the payback time on a system investment takes only five years.*

For illustrative purposes only; energy savings and equipment costs vary.

We have regular preventative maintenance done on our system

Why It Matters: When your heating system gets inspected, cleaned, and adjusted annually—ideally in the spring or summer—fuel efficiency improves, saving you as much as 10% on your annual fuel bills.

Finish Line: The money you save on fuel easily covers the cost of getting your system serviced. Regular checkups fend off inconvenient breakdowns and costly repairs, and extend equipment life.

We have a high-efficiency water heater

Why It Matters: When you have an oil-fired or propane-fired water heater, you not only get all of the hot water you need, you get it for about half as much as you would if you heated your water with electricity.

Finish Line: One great option is a tankless water heater, an on-demand system that stops heating water when you turn off your hot water faucets. Tankless water heaters are up to 50% more efficient than standard water heaters.

Our home is properly insulated

Why It Matters: Air leaks are like a broken window! The average house loses as much cool or warm air through leaks in walls, attics, and other areas as if its owner neglected to repair a broken window.

Finish Line: Proper insulation and air sealing can “fix” that window, reduce energy costs by up to 20%, and make a home more comfortable.

We have a propane fireplace

Why It Matters: It heats a room more evenly and efficiently than a wood-burning fireplace because as much as 90% of the heat produced by wood goes straight up the chimney.

Finish Line: Propane gives you more control over your fire and you’ll do less work too, thanks to remote controls, variable heat controls, thermostats and push-button ignitions. You can also install natural-looking log sets, complete with glowing, crackling embers, and high flickering flames.

We have banished electrical vampires

Why It Matters: Equipment and appliances that keep using power even when turned off are sometimes called vampires—because they constantly suck energy. Electrical vampires include everything from computers, printers, and wireless routers to microwaves, coffeemakers, and more.

Finish Line: If you’ve been unplugging equipment when not in use, you’re conserving electricity by as much as 10%. If everyone banished electrical vampires, nearly $6 billion would be saved and 87 billion pounds of carbon dioxide emissions would be eliminated every year.


1. 76-100 points: You win a gold medal. You have reached Olympian levels of efficiency!
2. 51-75 points: You win a silver medal. There are more ways to save, but you’re doing well!
3. 26-50 points: You win a bronze medal. Keep looking for ways to save on energy!