Minnesota Power is responsible for this wonderful graphic that prioritizes how homeowners can achieve energy efficiency:
I like how the arrow on the left has the equation: complexity/investment. Return on investment is exactly what we have been preaching all along. What can a homeowner do that does the most good for the least amount of money? This is what the graph says are the top 4 things you can do as a homeowner (of a preexisting home) that will get you the MOST bang for your BUCK:
#1 In-home energy audit. This helps the homeowner understand what is going on. Hey! This is what we do here at Home Performance NC!
#2 Rid yourself of energy vampires and change habits.
#3 Look at easy, cheap fixes like switching out bulbs and getting rid of inefficient fixtures
#4 Air sealing. This is the primary thing that we suggest once we complete an audit. Please read my ode to caulk here as well as an entire category of blog posts on the necessity of duct sealing. And A couple of blog entries back I thought of a good analogy as to why adding more insulation to an unsealed attic is stupid: it’s like adding more water to a cup filled with holes. It won’t make a bit of difference until you plug up the holes.
I’ll let you read the rest of the suggestions by yourself, because you can clearly see that the items at the top are those that cost the most for the consumer (like replacing your windows, your HVAC system, and installing solar panels, for example – none of which are bad things to do, mind you) but which clearly give the least return.