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Calculating Potential Energy Savings

Your Home: Calculating Potential Energy Savings with the Home Heating Index


This is about taking a miles-per-gallon approach to calculating Home Heating Performance and Potential Home Energy Savings. I will cover the Home Heating Index formula that will allow you to evaluate your Energy Performance and Energy Savings Potential. Using this formula, you will get an indication of how much energy you can save and how cost-effective those energy saving measures will be.

I compare this to calculating the miles-per-gallon of a vehicle. Raise your hand if you carry a small calculator in your car to estimate miles-per-gallon. The calculator I use is one of the first solar energy calculators to hit the market. No battery backup, if I’m going to see how many miles my car gets on a gallon of gas, I have to stop and fill it up in daylight.

In addition to evaluating the energy performance of your appliances, I also believe that most everyone is interested in evaluating the energy performance of their homes. Is your house a 1 ton, four wheel drive, pickup truck with big tires or is your house a three banger that came to America on a boat? Of course, the performance of houses differs from the performance of cars in a very important way, your house is not seen leaving the parking lot trying to impress the girls.

A home should look good, but when it comes to performance, using less energy is better. I’ve heard of people replacing their car’s engine with a bigger, more powerful model and then bragging about all the fuel it consumes, but I’ve never heard of someone leaving their doors and windows open and then bragging about their high electric bill. .

Like miles-per-gallon in a car, residential fuel consumption can be measured, so judgments can be made about the benefit of installing energy-efficient measures. When we talk about a home, instead of using miles-per-gallon, let’s use something that the home industry uses, let’s call it the Home Heating Index. The Heating Index provides a means of comparing homes of different sizes and climates, and determining the cost-effectiveness of energy saving measures.

Home Energy Use

In a heating climate, the number of degree days of heating (use more furnace) than the number of degree days of cooling (use more air conditioning), is called the Home Heating Index. And then, like that, when the cold degree days are more than the warm degree days, it’s called the Home Equity Index.

Today, I will only show the House Temperature Index. The warming index has proven to be more useful and accurate than the cooling index. Besides, it’s cold outside and it’s time to think about heating. (Except for you folks in the far south, I’ll cover the Home Depreciation Index another time.)

So, before you begin the adventures of climbing into the attic, exploring the basement, checking the efficiency of the appliance, and all the other things that happen during an energy audit, you should get out your favorite solar calculator and the Home Heat Index count With the Home Heating Index, you can usually accurately estimate whether the attic space has insulation and, if so, whether more should be added.

Calculation of the House Temperature Index:

The Home Heating Index is a calculation that uses Btu, square footage of living space, and heating degree days. This calculation can be completed whether the home heating system is electric, gas, propane, wood, oil or wax.

The Home Heating Index is a bit more relevant for a wood-heated home because the Btu is calculated for each type. I think I’ll burn wood for a while after I get a new calculator.

Let’s calculate the Home Heating Index for a home with electric heat. This would include electric furnaces, space and wall heaters, heat pumps, radiant solar heat or floor heat, etc. For this calculation, we will assume that this house has an electrical structure.

Step 1: Data from Electricity Bill

Energy Consumption Bill Authorization

Take your electric bill and look at the number of kilowatt hours your home used in October. On my example home, the home used 1,640 kWh per month. Now, look at the bar graph and select the month that had the smallest electricity consumption. This is the month when your heating and cooling needs were lowest, estimate the kilowatt hours used this month. On my example house, in September, about 680 kilowatt hours were used. This figure shows the electricity used for heating water, cooking, lighting, etc. – everything except heating and air conditioning.

Subtract 680 from 1,640 – the difference is 960 kWh. This is the energy used for heating in October.

Step 2: Find the number of heated square feet in your home.

My model house is a two-story house. There are 920 square meters on the first floor and 800 square meters on the second floor. Total sq ft = 1,720.

You may need to get out the old tape measure, remember, square feet is length by width.

Measure Your Home

Step 3: Determine the degree heating days for your location for the month of October.

Go to

Enter your zip code in the box labeled “Weather Station ID” and click on Station Search. A box will drop down, select the weather station closest to your home.

Select “Heating” for Degree Day Type and “Celsius” or “Fahrenheit” for Temperature Units.

Keep the base temperature at 65 degrees and go ahead and check the box to include “Approximate Base Temperature”.

Select “Month” for Distribution Selection and “Last Twelve Months” for Period Covered.

Now you are ready to click on “Create Degree Days”.

At the top of your screen, a new box will appear with a ticking wheel spinning around to indicate that the Degree Warming days are counting. Wait until the wheel stops and the box says, “Your Class Dates are Ready,” and then click “Download Now.”

Open the downloaded chart and select the number of degree days for the month of October. For my example home, the degree days are 344.

Step 4: Convert kilowatt hours to Btu’s.

The equation uses Btu’s, so we need to convert kWh to Btu’s. The chart below will allow us to make the transition. If you are working with natural gas or propane, those conversion numbers are also given.

1. A kilowatt hour of electricity equals 3,412 Btu.

2. Natural gas heats up to 100,000 Btu

3. One gallon of propane is about 91,450 Btu’s

For example my house used 960 kWh hours for heating which converts to: 960 times 3,412 equals 3,275,520 Btu.

Step 5: Enter the data into the Home Heating Index equation.

Length x width

To use the data we collected to determine the Home Heating Index, the first thing we want to do is multiply the square feet by the heating degree days. Again, for my example house, I would add 1,720 square feet with 344 heating days. They add up to 591,680.

Now we need to divide the Btu by 591,680. That would be 3,275,520 Btu divided by 591,680 to yield a House Heat Index of 5.53. To estimate the Home Heating Index of figure 5.53, we use the chart below for fossil fuel-heated homes and adjust the chart slightly lower for electric-heated homes.

House Warming Index between 0 and 2; Airtight, super insulated, 90+ heating efficiency, heat recovery vent, small window area and high window r-value.

Between 2 and 4; Well insulated, low air leakage, efficient heating system, super well listed home in the US or R-2000 in Canada.

Between 4 and 8; Better than the average house with good insulation. Relatively low ventilation, and better than average heating.

Between 8 and 13; The average house with average insulation, average ventilation, and average heating.

Between 13 and 18; Worse than the average house, with little insulation, high air leakage, and worse than average heating.

Between 18 and 22+; Old houses with poor insulation, excessive air leakage, and very inadequate heating system.

(Home Heating Index Map from Residential Energy by John Krigger)

Using the chart, we can see that my example house, with a House Heat Index of 5.53, is not a very efficient house and is not an energy hog. It is a better than average home that could benefit from more insulation, more ventilation and could benefit from a more efficient heating system. We can also seek additional energy savings through efficient appliances and efficient lighting.

Using the Home Energy Index score, we can see that some other air conditioning upgrades can reduce energy consumption and be cost effective. If there was a house point of 1.5, it would probably not be useful to do air conditioning. However, if the house has a score of 15, the house could benefit greatly from energy saving measures, both air conditioning and higher efficiency appliances and those setbacks will certainly be cost-effective.

Unfortunately, the Home Heating Index is calculated much less than a vehicle’s miles-per-gallon. However, its consequences are even more important. Chances are you can’t do much to increase the miles-per-gallon of your favorite car, but the same isn’t true in your home, chances are very good that you can increase the homes energy efficiency and save a lot of money. which you can use to buy gas for the car.

Thanks for stopping by, hope to see you soon, but I’m not leaving the lights on for you…

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