March 5, 2001


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BERKELEY, CA — The average house in the 94105 zip code of San Francisco could save $455 dollars a year if its owners installed cost-effective energy-efficiency measures -- maybe more, given planned increases in the area’s energy prices. In the 90046 zip code of Los Angeles, the annual savings figure would be more than $500; in Houston’s 77241 zip, it’s $600, and in Charlotte, NC’s 28231 zip code, it’s about $580.

With energy shortages and high energy bills in the news, especially in California, this is a good time for homeowners and apartment dwellers to visit the Home Energy Saver website, which was developed by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The Home Energy Saver (HES) website integrates advanced building simulation software into an interactive website that helps consumers identify the technologies that will save them the most energy and money. By logging onto the site, you can, for example, quickly determine how much money you would save by installing insulation in your attic, or replacing old windows with energy-efficient "low-e" windows, and where you would find the best products and a good contractor to do the job.

Since its debut to the general public in 1999, Home Energy Saver has calculated the energy use and recommended energy-saving measures for nearly 60,000 homes and apartments. The site is providing its services to about 1,000 additional dwellings per week.

Home Energy Saver was recently honored by its inclusion in the Department of Energy’s Energy 100 list of major technologies and programs that have resulted in benefits for the American consumer.


A second site that uses the same underlying software to power its energy-based calculations is the Home Improvement Tool (HIT) website. HIT is an easy-to-use interactive tool for residential consumers sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Partnership for Advancing Technology in Housing (PATH). It is tailored especially for energy-efficient home remodeling.

"The Home Energy Saver and the Home Improvement Tool give consumers simple and powerful ways to help them start saving energy and money immediately," says Evan Mills, Home Energy Saver project leader and a researcher in Berkeley Lab's Environmental Energy Technologies Division (EETD). "As web-based tools, the two sites bring together the analytical capabilities of sophisticated calculation methods, as well as links to information about contractors, utilities, local agencies, and others who can help with getting those measures into place,"

The Home Energy Saver site is divided into three main sections -- Energy Adviser, Making It Happen, and Start Saving Energy Today.

Energy Advisor computes a home's total energy use based on information that you enter. Supply your zip code and the Energy Advisor will show you the energy use, bills, or energy-related carbon dioxide emissions for your area's typical house, and a comparable energy-efficient house. Answer a set of basic questions about your own house, such as its floor area, the number of occupants, type of heating and air conditioning equipment, and fuel prices, and get a custom-tailored energy bill breakdown. The more information entered, the more these recommendations become tailored to the house.

Energy Adviser also provides a customized set of energy-saving improvements for your house. These improvements cover all of your home's major energy-using systems: space heating and cooling, water heating, lighting, major appliances, and a host of miscellaneous appliances that are an increasingly important factor in residential energy bills.

Making It Happen has links to hundreds of Internet sites with practical information about energy-efficient homes, products, service providers, utility programs, and on-line reading materials. The Answer Desk provides answers to frequently asked questions about home energy use in terms that the average homeowner can understand.

A new "Start Saving Energy Today!" module gives users practical information on ways to start saving energy immediately, including no-cost and low-cost measures. Also new to the website is a list of utility energy-efficiency programs.

Occasionally, high traffic volume on the site causes delays or temporary site unavailability. If this happens, wait a few minutes before trying again. The Berkeley Lab development team is improving the site and adding computing power to handle the growing load of users.

The Home Improvement Tool site was developed by Berkeley Lab, with sponsorship from the EPA and PATH. Calculations on this site are powered by the Home Energy Saver, which was jointly sponsored by EPA and DOE.

Berkeley Lab researchers also developed the Internet site for the ENERGY STAR™ Program, an initiative of the EPA and DOE.

Berkeley Lab is a U.S. Department of Energy laboratory located in Berkeley, California. It conducts unclassified scientific research and is managed by the University of California.

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