By Jocelyn Cramer, SEEDS Executive Director
This is a wonderful time of the year for so many reasons….. The kitchen often has the tantalizing aroma of vegetable soup or pumpkin pie. Nights are cool and it feels good to sleep under a heavy blanket again. Let’s face it, northeastern Pennsylvania in Autumn is one of the most beautiful spots on Earth!
But autumn is busy. Kids are back in school, folks are harvesting and gearing up for hunting season, and the house needs to be prepped for winter. At least a half dozen times a day I walk by something in my home that I meant to fix, change, paint, move, or give away, but haven’t gotten around to yet. Does this sound familiar?
Well – here’s a little help! SEEDS and PPL make it easy to spend less energy and time and even money preparing your home for winter.
If kids playing softball put a hole in your window, you’d fix it, right? Well, did you know that there are often small air breaches in many different places in our homes that, if combined, could easily be the size of a softball or bigger? This reality prompted SEEDS to plan a Home Energy Efficiency Forum with PPL at the Wallenpaupack Environmental Learning Center on October 8th. The forum was called “Find-it Fix it! A Home Energy Efficiency Workshop .” Like all SEEDS forums, this event was free and open to the general public. Folks who attended received a free compact fluorescent (CFL) bulb courtesy of PPL, and lots of helpful hints and instructions to start saving energy right away. Here are a few highlights:
- Run your hand around windows and doors to feel where air is escaping. Use caulk to seal these spots.
- Wrap your water pipes. This is very easy and inexpensive to do, especially with pre-made pipe wrap tubes. Wrapping hot water pipes will reduce the waiting time for hot water to reach your faucet. It will also cut down on condensation and protect pipes from freezing.
- Wrap your water heater in a water heater blanket. Newer models have insulation inside the shell, but additional wrapping makes it cheaper to heat, and can keep water hot longer in the event of a power outage.
- Use water aerators on your faucets and low-flow shower heads. If replacing a toilet, choose a low-flow one. For well owners, using less water means using less electricity to pump it. For metered water systems, using less water cuts down your bill.
- Prepare for next spring by getting a rain barrel. I’ve seen many rain barrels turned into beautiful home features with flowers and honeysuckle wrapped around them, and you will never water your garden with a hose again.
- Use wool balls or tennis balls in your dryer to help significantly decrease dryer time. Don’t have tennis balls? There are great YouTube videos on how to make your own wool dryer balls. They also make terrific gifts. Better yet: use drying racks instead of a dryer. They add humidity in a dry winter house.
- Use a smart strip to decrease phantom power.
- Change all incandescent bulbs to CFL’s. Or upgrade your CFL’s to LED’s.
- Keep your appliances cleaned and maintained properly. Whether you have Energy Star appliances, or are saving up for them, appliances run more efficiently when well maintained. One local contractor’s website we found particularly helpful: Gershey Appliances
- Use outlet gaskets in all your exterior wall outlets. They are cheap and easy to install.
- Check the caulking or putty around your utility wires where they enter the home, and re-caulk if needed. Remember that softball?
- Insulate the walls of your unfinished basement or crawl space. This can help keep your space warmer and cut down on the temperature difference between the living space and the basement. That, in turn, will cut down on condensation.
- Rethink energy usage – do you need a second refrigerator? Do you keep lights on when you aren’t in the room?
Many of these tips came from the findings of the TEAAM, The Energy Awareness Action Movement, a free home energy assessment program offered by SEEDS to residents of Wayne and Pike Counties each summer. If you have other helpful tips on how you saved on your energy costs, track your usage and share your success stories with us. Or sign up for a free home energy assessment in the summer of 2014.
SEEDS – Sustainable Energy Education and Development Support – is a nonprofit organization based in Honesdale that is working to reduce carbon emissions and promote a healthy environment. We do this by helping to develop a renewable energy infrastructure and by promoting sustainable living. We host educational forums on a variety of energy saving, as well as alternative energy topics. We also help area businesses conserve energy and operate more efficiently. For the latest in renewable energy technologies, or to help your business focus on the triple bottom line – people, planet and profit — call 570-245-1256 or email email@example.com.