Fifteen Mansfield families have just begun an Energy Challenge.
And five months from now, we will find out who saved the most money by taking advantage of good advice.
The Energy Challenge program kicked off in October with an introduction to interested residents; afterward, 15 households signed on to participate.
The Energy Challenge is focused on conserving the use of electricity.
The program is overseen by the Mansfield Energy Education Team, which is a subcommittee of the Mansfield Sustainability Committee.
The households taking part in the Energy Challenge are getting assistance from the Energy Education Team acting as energy coaches, of which I am a part.
We energy coaches, although not professional auditors, are going to participants’ homes to see how electricity is being used and based on our house tours, will make recommendations on some obvious ways to reduce energy consumption.
We are providing Energy Challenge participants with a starter kit of materials to help them begin reducing energy use.
We also will be using a camera with infrared imaging to detect where heat is escaping from the house.
And the Challenge is being videotaped, so that even if you aren’t enrolled in the program, you can learn from your neighbors. These visits will be aired on the Charter Community Access Channel 14 at dates to be announced.
In some cases, we are recommending that participants arrange for a professional energy audit offered through Connecticut Light & Power, called Home Energy Solutions.
There’s a $75 fee for this audit, but potential savings can quickly offset this cost.
One of the things the Home Energy Solutions auditors will do is use a fan-like device to pull air through the house – this allows them to discover where cold air is coming into the house – or warm arm is escaping (or in the summer months, where the hot air is coming in and making the air-conditioner work overtime).
Once the air leaks are pinpointed, the auditors can do a number of things, such as seal window air leaks or install “sweeps” at the base of doors.
The auditors may also replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents, including specialized bulbs for recessed lights or fixtures that use dimmers.
They might also provide a low-flow shower head to reduce hot water use, or advise the resident to add insulation, for example, in the attic. In this case, the resident would be eligible for a 30 percent discount towards purchasing insulation.
One neat device given to the resident during the audit is a Kill-A-Watt meter. This helps track which appliances may be using a lot of energy.
So, for example, the refrigerator would be plugged into the Kill-A-Watt meter, which is then plugged into the outlet – and it provides a measure of how much electricity this appliance is using. Old refrigerators can be notorious for consuming energy.
These devices also can detect whether an appliance is still drawing energy, even after it is shut off.
This is a really good time – because of the federal government’s stimulus funds – to take advantage of programs that help with energy savings, such as rebates for buying energy efficient appliances.
It’s also good to know that there are tax credits available when you purchase some energy-saving products.
If you can afford it, this is the time to act.
If you’d like to know more about how to reduce energy use, call me at 860-429-3333.
You can also learn more about CL&P’s energy saving programs on their Web site at http://www.cl-p.com/Home/SaveEnergy/Rebates/HomeEnergySolutions.aspx
Posted Dec. 29, 2009
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