Ahmad Faruqui: Local Hero

Upgrading and Saving

Ahmad Faruqui is an economist living in Danville, California. He knows that every action counts and that saving energy means saving him a lot of money.

What made you get serious about saving energy?

One summer we had a power bill that hit $500—you might say that was kind of a trigger. It’s a four-bedroom, 2,400-square-foot house with just two of us living in it. I thought, “Okay, we need to do something here.”

So what did you do next?

My wife and I had a choice to make: we could put solar on the roof and not worry about energy efficiency, like a lot of friends and neighbors have done. Or we could first see what we could accomplish with energy-efficiency upgrades, and if that didn’t get us to where we wanted to be, then we’d consider solar. Just by addressing energy efficiency, the power bill has gone down on average 19% per month.

“Just by addressing energy efficiency, the power bill has gone down on average 19% per month.”

That’s amazing. What energy-efficient things did you do?

There was a fair bit of upgrading in terms of the air conditioning and furnace. We also improved the insulation in the attic. The biggest thing, which we didn’t even think about, was fixing the leakage in our ductwork—we had a humongous leak. It doesn’t matter how efficient your air conditioner is if you’re losing half of it through duct leakage. Also, now all of the appliances are very energy efficient, and most of the lighting in the house and landscaping is LED.

Do you feel like you’re making a positive impact on California?

I think I am. I’m certainly a talkative person, so I’m telling my friends and neighbors that instead of putting up solar first, consider energy efficiency. I mean, you can do both, but don’t just do solar and ignore how much energy you consume just because the cost went down. It’s not as exciting of an investment as solar or a fancy electric car in the driveway, but I really wanted to convince myself that I’m not using any more energy than I need to use to get a certain level of comfort in the house.

Want to pass along any energy advice to other homeowners?

Energy efficiency isn’t as hard as you think it is. You just have to start doing it, and you’ll come up with a whole list of options to consider. Then do some simple economic payback analysis and see what makes the most sense for you. The Energy Upgrade California program is a great resource, so make use of it.