by Paul Scheckel

No matter where you live—an uptown loft, a drafty old farmhouse, or a contemporary home— addressing your dwelling's energy efficiency and reducing your household's energy use should be done before you invest in any renewable energy (RE) gear.

You can reduce your use—without giving up modern comforts—by putting technology to work for you. New, energy-efficient appliances and heating equipment, along with advances in building science and awareness of our energy use, allow us to do more in our homes with reduced energy input—the very essence of efficiency. But don't expect technology to do it all. Habits and behaviors greatly influence your energy consumption.

If you're connected to the utility grid, implementing these easy measures translates into lower utility bills. If you're planning an off-grid home, smart appliance and building design choices will both minimize renewable energy equipment costs, and reduce or even eliminate your reliance on a backup engine generator.

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