Reduce your environmental footprint one strategy at a time.

Energy Audit = Money in Your Pocket

Posted on | March 30, 2010 | No Comments

PAYBACKWe weatherized our house last year.  You can read all about it here.

So far, in the 11 months since we completed the work, we have saved approximately $900 on our annual heating bill.  Assuming energy prices remain constant (which they won’t – all projections indicate rising energy prices), we will payback the insulation and air sealing portion of the work in about 5 1/2 years giving us about an 18% return on investment.  Sure beats our savings account (and our IRA’s for that matter).

I like Suze Orman’s approach in this month’s O Magazine:  The sub-heading is “act green before you buy green”

Suze’s top 10 tips (all paraphrasing mine):

  1. Reduce your energy consumption first before embarking on any energy-saving technology.  Start with the small, easy-to-accomplish measures like changing lightbulbs and properly programming your thermostat (if you don’t have a programmable thermostat – get one – it will pay you back in a week!).
  2. Set an energy-saving goal.  Enlist the kids.  Offer to give them half of the energy savings if the family meets its goal.
  3. Pick projects that will increase your property value.
  4. If using a home equity line of credit for energy-saving upgrades, aim to have it repaid within three years because interest rates are expected to rise (I’d say five years if you can finance high-payback strategies).
  5. Get a home energy audit from an Energy Star partner (call us!)
  6. Check DSIRE (Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency) for all available upgrades.  The database is updated monthly.  A retrofit project can take some time so make sure you check back at reasonable intervals.
  7. Talk to your accountant about all eligible tax credits and rebates.
  8. If you are purchasing new appliances, buy  Energy Star.

OK, the next two are mine:

  1. If you are doing a major retrofit to your house, incorporate an energy audit and energy-saving strategies as part of the construction (we’ll help!)
  2. Whether you live in a single-family home, co-op or condominium, analyze your energy consumption data at least once a year to see how you are doing.


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Established in 1999, Ellen Honigstock Architect PC is a full-service architecture and energy auditing firm based in DUMBO, Brooklyn.

Our solutions are environmentally conscious and the criteria we use are based on national standards developed to bring long-term saving, efficiency and well-being to our clients. Over 35 years combined experience building in New York City gives us an edge in meeting tough schedules and navigating the city's complicated requirements.

About Ellen:

As the Residential Green Building Advocate for the Urban Green Council since 2007, Ellen has been promoting sustainability in the residential marketplace in NYC.

In the position of Chair of the Homes Subcommittee the NYC Greening the Codes Task Force, Ellen has been heavily involved in recommending new green policy in NYC as related to updating building codes, rules and regulations.

Ellen teaches Building Science, Building Envelope, Water Conservation, Indoor Air Quality, Quantifying Energy and Green Building Plans at the 1,000 Green Supers program for The SEIU Local 32 BJ Thomas Shortman Training Fund.

Registered Architect, NY, NJ, CT
LEED Accredited Professional
BPI Certifications:
Building Analyst
Energy Efficient Building Operator
Multi-Family Building Analyst

Ellen Honigstock, LEED AP
Ellen Honigstock Architect PC
45 Main Street #806
Brooklyn, NY 11201
(212) 228-1585


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