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What’s Your Home MPG Rating?

What’s Your Home MPG Rating?

You probably know how many miles per gallon your auto gets, so what about your home? Automobile MPG ratings have been a part of the car-buying decision process for years and interest in MPG ratings rises along with fuel prices.

mpg graphic

 

Buildings account for 40% of all energy consumed in the United States and American homes account for about half that amount.

The AlabamaWISE program connects homeowners with certified home energy professionals who specialize in identifying where your home guzzles energy because, unlike cars, we want homes to last forever.

US auto mileage efficiency bottomed out during the first energy crisis. That’s when we started learning how to make homes efficient too.

Regular home maintenance and improvement should include a comprehensive energy assessment to identify where Home Performance with Energy Star will maximize your home energy mileage.

Here is a quick overview of how car mileage efficiency and home energy efficiency has changed over time.

Photo of mcmansion and hummer limo

The Bigfoot print: We’ve been making homes and cars more energy-efficient since the 1970s while making them bigger, from a median 1,525 sq-ft in 1973 to 2,277 sq-ft in 2007, offsetting much of the technology improvement. Stretch Hummer limo and the McMansion are poster children for excessive energy consumption.

micro compact home and smart car

The Weefoot print: Tiny homes and cars such as the Micro Compact prefabricated home and Smart Car are part of the trend for not so big homes, efficient buildings, cars and cities. The equation is simple: Less = Less.

1921 auto and homes

Pictured in his circa 1921 Velie Six, homebuilder D.J. Dunigan constructed fine homes in an era without all the modern energy conveniences such as insulation, efficient windows, air conditioning and appliances.

Photographer Bill Owens captured the family station wagon and ranch home in his classic book, Suburbia, when average fuel economy bottomed out at 13 MPG.

Photographer Bill Owens captured a family with station wagon and ranch home in 1972 for his classic book, Suburbia, when average fuel economy bottomed out at 13 MPG. Building codes began requiring insulation, but homes were not air sealed. Heating and air conditioning systems were energy guzzlers too.

High mileage homes and cars: Some 100 participating homes in the Pecan Street demonstration project in Austin’s Mueller development will utilize 100 Chevy Volts to create one of the densest electric-car concentrations of any neighborhood in the country. Homes are built to Energy Star standards set by Austin Utilities' home performance building code.

High mileage homes and cars: 100 families are participating in the Pecan Street demonstration project in Austin’s Mueller development are using 100 Chevy Volts to create one of the densest electric-car concentrations of any neighborhood in the country. Homes in Mueller are built using Energy Star standards as part of Austin’s Energy’s efficient homes program.

AlabamaWISE Energy Performance Score

 

 

What does a home MPG label look like? Participating AlabamaWISE home improvement contractors are certified by the Building Performance Institute or RESNET to perform diagnostic testing and visual inspection of your home’s energy-related systems, including insulation, windows, air leakage, duct leakage, heating and air condition system, and carbon monoxide safety. They also input 12 months of utility bills.

The resulting Energy Performance Score is an MPG rating for your home in units of Kilowatt Hours (KWH) per year. The score for an actual home in Huntsville, shown at right, was 43,000 KWH per year.

The label compares your existing home energy performance to similar homes in Alabama and the potential improvement for your home based on selected home improvement measures. For this home, the energy analyst identified energy-related improvements that could reduce annual electric bills by more than half, to 19,000 KWH per year.

– Brian Brainerd