Basement rim joist areas; holes cut for plumbing traps under tubs and showers; cracks between finish flooring and baseboards; utility chases that hide pipes or ducts; plumbing vent pipe penetrations; kitchen soffits above wall cabinets; fireplace surrounds; recessed can light penetrations; poorly weatherstripped attic access hatches; and cracks between partition top plates and drywall.
Ordinary houses breathe through leaky joints and poor seals, losing heat and wasting energy. But our house won't leak, so we'll use a heat recovery ventilator (HRV) to admit fresh air and expel stale air, transferring heat from one stream to the other.
Before installing solar panels, get a home energy audit to find out where you're wasting the most energy. Your house will be more comfortable if you seal leaks and add more insulation, so don't just slap solar panels on the roof without curbing energy use.
A premium home needs a fancy gas range, right? Wrong! An electric induction burner has the same power and quick response as a gas flame, but it uses energy more efficiently and won't demand (cold) makeup air as it gobbles up oxygen. And chefs love them!
Occupant behavior can make the difference between an efficient house and a wasteful one. Notorious energy hogs include plasma TVs, old refrigerators or freezers, ice-makers, and dehumidifiers. And don't overlook sneaky items like DVRs, always-on computer and entertainment equipment, etc.