As cold weather approaches, the cost of heating your home can be daunting. The average U.S. home spends $2,175 on utility costs per year? That’s over $180 per month, according to Consumer Reports. And for homes in the Northeast, heating costs alone, can be a lot higher. For Westchester and the lower Hudson region, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) reports that average home heating oil prices are up 34% from last year.
Homes that meet the model U.S. energy code use less energy, which reduces utility bills and puts money back into your pocket. Equally important, an energy-efficient home actually reduces pollution. In fact, buildings take up about 40% of all the energy we use nationwide, and contribute to one-third of total U.S. greenhouse emissions.
To find out what the minimum code requirements are for your home, you can check Consumer Reports‘ recently published a Home Energy Code Guide. There’s also an Interactive version of the guide that covers ways to improve insulation, ducts, windows, lighting, air leakage, thermostat, and fireplace. Information about the energy code for New York State is available from the Building Codes Assistance Project (BCAP) and from the Consumer Reports environmental website, GreenerChoices.org, where you can also get a 2-page checklist to see if your home meets national energy code standards.
NYSERDA says that many homeowners in our area qualify for a free or low-cost home energy assessment. To find out more, call 1-877-NY-SMART, or visit GetEnergySmart.org.
Loop contributor Joyce H. Newman is the managing editor for Consumer Reports GreenerChoices.org. and a former board member of Sheldrake Environmental Center.
cover image: patti roberts
Joyce H. Newman is an Emmy Award-winning environmental journalist, educator, and gardener. She holds a Certificate in Horticulture from The New York Botanical Garden, and is a tour guide there.