Andrew W. wrote in to share this free home-energy analyzer.
This [site] is well done. It walks you through a set of questions about the kind of home you have, your appliances, and your sources of energy/fuel. It’s more helpful for people who live in houses rather than apartments — the level of detail for house-specific questions is impressive, such as whether or not you have a finished basement — but overall it does a great job of showing every kind of user how to save energy. And, of course, money.
The more information you can provide, the better the site’s recommendations. If you have recent energy bills handy, for example, the energy analyzer will incorporate these into its calculations. There’s a lot of detail here, though it’s not apparent from the first page. Keep digging and you’ll uncover a lot of specificity.
I just walked through the analyzer for our old house, which was built around 1900. Surprisingly, it falls in the middle of the road on energy usage. We’d like to have a more efficient home, but there’s not much that can be done to insulate it further. Plus, we have many, many windows.
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, when we moved into this house, we contacted a local nonprofit group called The Energy Trust, which works with consumers and utilities to lower energy consumption. We scheduled a free home energy audit. The audit yielded several small one-time tax credits and cash incentives (which are used to reduce the bills from contractors) and about a dozen free compact fluorescent bulbs. In total, we saved about $250. Not bad for an hour spent with the energy auditor!
There are probably similar nonprofit organizations in most major metropolitan areas. A large contractor (such as a heating contractor or an insulation contractor) could probably steer you in the right direction.