“With the exception of some high-flying migrant species, nature doesn't commute to work.” - Janine Benyus, Biomimicry

Aquinas College

Home Energy Efficiency


This home located in Idaho Springs, Colorado was part of the 1999 Denver Tour of Solar Homes. Energy-efficient and passive solar features reduce total building energy loads.
Photo courtesy of David Parsons (NREL PIX number 08226)

There are many simple things that residents can do around the house to produce large efficiency gains. For example, installing compact fluorescent light bulbs in place of incandescent bulbs can save $56.43 per bulb from decreased energy costs. They also last 10 times longer, so you are using far less resources and the bulb requires less replacement! In addition, home owners who turn down the temperature on water heaters (to no lower than 120 degrees) and insulate the unit can save a lot of energy and therefore money. A blanket sleeve for water heaters generally pay for themselves within one year in energy savings.

In San Jose, California, residents, businesses and agencies began programs aimed at improving energy efficiency in the 1980's. These programs resulted in a decrease in annual energy bills by $5.5 million, or enough energy to power 7,600 homes for a year. It is estimated that the energy efficiency programs in San Jose will "produce a county-wide $33 million increase in wages and salaries, and a net employment gain of 1,753 job years over a ten-year period" (Rocky Mountain Institute). While the effects of individual efficiency efforts may seem limited, the collective impact of community-wide initiatives can be substantial.


"A Guide to Energy Efficient Home Lighting"

This home energy efficiency website has an abundance of free resources to educate homeowners on energy efficient lighting. The resources highlight energy savings, monetary savings, and important characteristics to look for when purchasing efficient bulbs.


This site explains the basics of compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) lights and why the technology is important. Among other things, it shows the amount of money the United States alone has saved just by switching to CFL lights.

A Kid's Guide to Being More Energy Efficient

Check out this great article aimed at explaining the importance of energy efficiency to little ones.

California Energy Commission

The California Energy Commission, located in Sacramento, is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency. Although some of the information is specific to California, this site offers numerous resources to help improve the efficiency of homes (such as the energy efficiency guide).

Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE)

The CEE is a national, nonprofit organization promoting energy-efficient products and services. The site contains energy efficiency information for a wide variety of sectors, including government, industry, and others, as well as a resource library.

Ecological Footprint Quiz by Redefining Progress

The ecological footprint quiz estimates the amount of land and ocean area required to sustain your consumption patterns and absorb your wastes on an annual basis. After answering some questions you will be able to compare your ecological footprint to others’ and learn how to reduce your impact on the natural world.

Energy Star

Energy Star is a government-backed program helping businesses and individuals protect the environment through superior energy efficiency. The web site can help locate products, buildings, and homes with the energy star label, indicating that they meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the EPA and U.S. Department of Energy. The site also contains tips for making your home or business more energy efficient and contact information for energy efficiency professionals.


GreenQuest is a free service from Kalamazoo RESA that is designed to help its customers conserve energy, save money, and sustain a clean environment. This site provides an analysis of energy use and cost for several years, and it compares its customer’s energy use to similar buildings in the area.

Michigan Energy Options

“For more than 30 years, Michigan Energy Options has delivered energy efficiency and sustainability solutions to households, businesses and public institutions throughout our state.” Here you can explore different sustainability solutions and incentives that may be offered in the region in which you live. Up to date news on the latest projects and workshops taking place in Michigan communities is also available.

Solar Tribune

Founded in 2011, Solar Tribune strives to educate the public about the solar industry to help its expansion. It provides insightful information on solar photovoltaics, solar thermal systems, and the basics of solar energy. It also includes specific information about solar panels for residential homes.

The Green Home Guide

Brought to you by the U.S. Green Building Council, the Green Home Guide presents invaluable resources on LEED for homes. The web site provides resources, information, and news for anyone who is interested in certifying a home, cottage, chalet or bungalow under the LEED standard.

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)

Within the DOE, the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy contains tips for saving energy in various areas of the home, such as landscaping, appliances, and windows.

Funded by the Steelcase Foundation of Grand Rapids, Michigan
Header photo by Carol Y. Swinehart, courtesy of Michigan Sea Grant Extension
Site by CMC/GrandNet