Virginia Tech® home

Home Energy

Begin your search of the guide with a review of Home Energy. Use Appalachian Power's home-energy estimator to project your energy-use costs, calculate the cost of operating home appliances, and discover how switching to compact fluorescent bulbs will save you money.

There are numerous sites on how to purchase energy-efficient appliances, home office equipment, and heating and air-conditioning systems.

Do you know what a home envelope is? Energy Star not only defines the envelope, but tells you how to seal it!

Have you ever wondered if you save energy by turning off your heating or air-conditioning units when you are away from home? A review of the Home Energy Saver Answer Desk and the U.S. Department of Energy websites will answer your questions on home energy use.

  • Air conditioning accounts for almost 5% of all electricity produced in the U.S. for all purposes at a cost to homeowners of over $15 billion. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy provides guidelines for reducing the need for air conditioning, selecting a system, and improving the efficiency of an existing or new system.
  • Appalachian Power offers several great tools to estimate home energy, cost of operating appliances, and saving money on lighting.
  • Buying Appliances An article from the Natural Resources Defense Council on choosing efficient appliances.
  • Energy-Efficient Appliances provides information from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) on rebates and tax incentive programs in various states.
  • Clothes Washers is a listing of the most efficient clothes washers provided by ACEEE.
  • Cooking Appliances are defined and energy-saving tips are offered by ACEEE.
  • No Regrets Remodeling, a part of The Home Energy Saver series, offers an array of options related to home appliances.
  • Dishwashers provides general information on the home dishwasher and a listing of the most energy-efficient units.
  • Home Office Equipment lists energy data on most all home equipment and even responds to home equipment myths!
  • Refrigerators & Freezers offers a listing of top-rated refrigerators and freezers
  • Refrigerators recommends items to consider when replacing your unit.
  • Resources, published by, allows you to search for parts but also provides resources on air-conditioning filters, energy sites, and a recycling guide.
  • High Energy Bills: ENERGY STAR provides an extensive guide to reducing home energy costs.
  • What does my energy bill pay for? ENERGY STAR has graphed each electrical appliances percentage of a home electric bill.
  • Home Energy Analysis/YardstickENERGY STAR provides you with the tools to determine if your home energy use is above average.
  • Home Energy Checklist guides you as you develop your plan to reduce energy costs.
  • Home Energy Tips The Power is in Your Hands published by Alliance to Save Energy, expands your options for saving energy and money.
  • Home Energy Saving Tips (pdf) is provided by Washington State University as an additional check list.
  • Home Energy SaverMaking it Happen offers a way to calculate your home's energy consumption and potential energy savings.
  • Home Energy Saver Answer Desk is an amazing set of responses to questions about home energy.
  • Energy Solutions Database offers heating and cooling system calculator, an energy solutions database, and utility options as well as an opportunity to Ask the Experts.
  • Reducing Your Electricity Use sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy offers information on creating cost effective systems for appliances, lighting, and heating and cooling.


Heating Systems

  • Heating Systems suggests steps for making the most out of your investment in a heating system.
  • Furnaces and Boilers guides you in understanding the energy use of heating systems, the selection of a new unit, and the performance improvement of an existing system.
  • Heat Pumps provides performance guidelines for conventional heat pumps and offers a listing of the most energy-efficient units.
  • Hot Water & Heating Systems guides your research on the combined hot water and heating systems. Just select the No Regrets Remodeling Tab. Then scroll down the left side of the page and select this topic.
  • Thermostat outlines the effect of a thermostat on home energy consumption.
  • Sealing the Envelope describes how you seal your home from all air leaks creating a more comfortable environment and lowering energy costs.


Water Heating

  • Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings: Condensed Online Version describes five types of water heating systems and offers advice on the selection of a water heater.
  • Electric water heating (pdf) is described with suggestions on how to select the best water heater.
  • Heat Pump (pdf) offers a definition of heat pump water heaters for residential use and performance/cost data as well as related websites.
  • Tankless (Instantaneous Water Heaters) explains the tankless technology, special features, and precautions.


  • Terminology provides a listing of energy terms along with definitions. Finally, Btu, EER, SEER, U-Value, and other vague grouping of letters are defined!
  • Air Conditioning System As you begin the process of selecting the most efficient air conditioning system for your home, investigate the critical issues of system size, placement, installation, and contractor experience.
  • Appliances The average annual energy cost of a home is about $1,900, and appliances are a major part of home energy use (ENERGYSTAR).
  • Bathroom Faucets contribute to more than 15 percent of indoor household water use.
  • Caulking and Weather-Stripping The greatest source of wasted heating and cooling energy in a home is air leaks.
  • Ceiling Fans With the ceiling fan running, you can raise the thermostat setting by 2 to 4 degrees during the cooling season with no reduction in comfort and cut your cooling costs by 4 to 6%.
  • Dishwashers Washing dishes with a dishwasher is more efficient than washing them by hand.
  • Ductwork Your duct system has two main air transfer systems requiring the homeowner to select the best duct material, position in the optimal location, and expose and connect any air leakage.
  • Estimating Home Energy Use If you're trying to decide whether to invest in a more energy-efficient appliance or you'd like to determine your electricity loads, you may want to estimate appliance energy consumption.
  • Fluorescent Lighting A 26- or 28-watt compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) can replace a 100-watt incandescent bulb and last about 8,000 hours (compared to an incandescent bulb, which usually last about 1,000 hours).
  • Heating System Replacing your heating system creates lots of questions related to fuel utilization, performance, and energy costs.
  • House Design and Room Location For greatest energy efficiency, a house should have a simple, compact shape, with the long axis running east to west.
  • Insulation The effectiveness of an insulated wall or ceiling depends on the R-value and proper installation.
  • Laundry Area The laundry room can be a big consumer of energy--more than 1,000 kilowatt-hours a year--and water--and a big producer of unwanted heat and humidity in summer.
  • Moisture The moisture control system includes quality construction to shed water away from the building and its foundation; vapor and air barrier systems that hinder the flow of air infiltration and water vapor; and cooling and heating systems designed to provide comfort throughout the year.
  • Moisture Problems in New Construction Buildings should be designed and built to prevent both liquid water from migrating through building components and water vapor from being trapped in building assemblies, like walls.
  • Mold There are many types of mold, but none of them will grow without water or moisture.
  • Radiant Barriers Reflective insulation systems are made from aluminum foils with a variety of backing such as roof sheathing, kraft paper, plastic film, cardboard, etc.
  • Refrigerators and Freezers An ENERGYSTAR qualified refrigerator uses at least 20 percent less energy than required by current federal standards, 40 percent less than the conventional models sold in 2001, and about 50 percent less than models manufactured before 1993.
  • Roof Roofing is more than shingles, tile, or metal. A roof system consists of several components, properly assembled to provide the appropriate shelter for a structure.
  • Shape of the House Heat moves only when there is a difference in temperature, and it always moves from the warm side to the cool side.
  • Ventilation A natural or mechanical process of supplying conditioned or unconditioned air to, or removing air from, any space is referred to as ventilation.
  • Water Heater Heating water is the third largest energy expense in your home, it can account for 15-25% of your utility bill.
  • Windows Keep in mind that just because a window has an NFRC certification label it does not mean a window or door is energy efficient.
  • Whole-House Systems The systems approach recognizes the integration of windows, attics, foundations, mechanical equipment, and all other components and assemblies within the home.