An article in the Washington Post discusses what you can do when building a new home to help keep energy costs low. Here Michael McKechnie of Mountain View Builders in Berkeley Springs, WV, provides a summary:
McKechnie outlined the major steps to building a house with the lowest possible energy costs and perhaps an eye to going off the grid at some point: “Design your house so it uses the sun’s passive energy to its fullest potential, make sure the envelope around your house is tight, invest in renewable energy systems that use the sun and the wind to make free energy, and buy heating and cooling systems that use energy more efficiently.”
Just like it is complicated and less effective to retrofit a ten-year old SUV to be more efficient, it is complicated and less effective to retrofit old homes. (Which doesn’t mean some steps are not cost effective, of course.) The Post article provides a survey.
And what about that ten-year old SUV? Have you considered taking a rickshaw?