What's Your Score?

Creating an Energy Efficient Home: Tips for Measuring Home Energy Use

Figuring out how much energy your home uses is the first step toward increasing its energy efficiency. There are tools, services and tips for measuring home energy use. Keep reading to learn more...

The Home Energy Yardstick at EnergyStar.gov


This tool from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency assesses your home's annual energy use in comparison to similar homes. To use it, you will need to have on hand:

  • ZIP code (to pull in weather data for your area)
  • Square footage
  • Number of full-time occupants
  • List of different fuels used (electricity, natural gas, oil)
  • 12 months of utility bills

Using this information, the Home Energy Yardstick calculates a score for your home based on a scale of 1 to 10. A home that scores a 10 used less energy over the 12-month period than similar homes, according to the U.S. Department of Energy's Residential Energy Consumption Survey. A home that scores a 1 uses more energy over that period than similar homes.

The tool also offers insight into how much energy your home uses month to month over the 12-month period, showing in graph form the differences, and you get an estimate of your home's carbon emissions. With all of this information, the tool offers tips on how to improve energy efficiency and, therefore, your home's score.


This device accurately measures electricity usage by appliance, allowing you to drill down further into your home's energy usage profile to look for ways to improve efficiency. Simply place the device between the appliance and the electrical outlet, and then check its LCD screen to see how much energy the appliance uses on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis. The Kill-A-Watt displays usage by kilowatt-hour, the same measurement unit as your electricity company.

Knowing how many kilowatt-hours an appliance uses allows you to compare it to energy efficient models and to decide whether or not to upgrade. Those certified as Energy Star products include on the label the kilowatt-hours per year the appliance uses. You can also use Energy.gov's list of appliances and their typical wattage for comparison purposes.

Home Energy Audit

Determining which appliances use more energy than necessary and replacing them proves easy enough for the average homeowner. You may want to consult a professional to figure out all sources of energy inefficiency in the home. In fact, EnergyStar.gov says the following: "The best way to assess the root causes of high energy bills or uncomfortable spaces is to have a home energy professional assess your home."

During a home energy audit, your professional handyman will look at a variety of energy consumers, from the light bulbs you use and weather stripping in place to the actual windows and doors in your home. Plumbing and insulation also will be on the to-check list, as changes in these areas also can help reduce the amount of energy your home uses. He or she will point out areas of improvement and guide you toward a more energy efficient home.

Guide to an Efficient Home infographic Energy Efficiency - An infographic by the team at MrHandyman.com

Other EnergyStar.gov Info

When measuring the energy usage of your particular home, it also helps to know how homes in general use energy for context. EnergyStar.gov estimates that the average annual energy bill for a single home is approximately $2,200.

It also breaks down the energy usage by type. For example, heating uses 29 percent and cooling 17 percent on average. Water heating comes in at 14 percent, with large appliances such as a refrigerator, dishwasher, clothes washer and dryer consuming 13 percent of energy used. Lighting uses 12 percent. Electronics, such as computer and monitor and TV and DVD player, takes up 4 percent. "Other," a category that includes stoves, ovens, microwaves and small appliances such as coffee makers and dehumidifiers, makes up the remaining 11 percent.

Mr. Handyman can maintain your home to save you money. One call really does take care of everything on your to-do list. Make sure to stay on top of all your household repairs, improvements and maintenance needs and request service now online. Repair. Improve. Maintain. One call does it all!