Princeton Engineer Talks About Saving Home Energy and Money

Do you think it is possible to slash your home energy bill in half or more, reduce the amount you pollute by 75%, save money and make your living space more comfortable too? Graphic pyramid showing progression of home energy improvements, from easy to more difficult at top

Ted Borer's family has and we can too. Mr. Borer, Princeton University's Energy Plant Manager by day, shared his very practical story during a recent Sustainable Princeton lunch-and-learn program. Here are some takeaway tips from his amazing “TED” talk:

1. Start by understanding how energy is used in your homes and where there is waste.

Heating and cooling usually represent the biggest energy use in homes, but lighting, appliances, and other sources of energy use can really add up. At his house, Ted was shocked to find that 20% of his total electricity use came from lighting and computers alone!

2. Develop an action plan based on the "Pyramid of Energy Conservation" developed by Minnesota Power.

Start with the easy, low- and no-cost actions at the base of the pyramid and work up to more challenging, higher cost actions.  Some of the simple, low/no cost changes Ted made included:

  • shutting off computers at night
  • moving second fridge & freezer to the basement (which also prevents food from early spoiling)
  • using LED and CFL lighting in appropriate locations
  • upgrading to Energy Star flat screen TV

3. Invest in improvements related to the biggest energy costs to have the biggest impact.

At Ted's house, some of the bigger projects included sealing and insulating basement and attic areas, installing a heat pump, and installing a solar hot water system. With these improvements, he projected a savings of $2,100 per year and approximately 8 tons of CO2 per year - equivalent to 333 propane cylinders for home BBQs.

Ted also noted that home energy improvements are continuous, with new opportunities revealed after each improvement is completed.  In Ted's case his most recent improvements include installing a fireplace insert and solar panels, leading to even more savings.

Learn More

To learn more about Ted Borer's home energy plan and results, see the full  Slide Presentation (pdf) from his talk.  More home energy resources can also be found on our home energy resource page.

Thanks so much Ted, we truly appreciate all the knowledge and enthusiasm you bring to our community!