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Get Energy Smart

Plug into some resources for great savings and a lighter eco-footprint.


By the end of the very cold winter we’ve thankfully just put behind us, everyone dreaded the sound of the oil truck coming up the driveway—those bills were painful! But you can get ahead of the curve with a little preparation. Now that things are warming up and air conditioning season approaches, you might want to look into some ways to use energy more efficiently.

The state of Connecticut does well in overall energy consumption; it ranks near the top (#48, and #50 is the best) in state-by-state rankings of per-person use of energy in all sectors, according to statistics from 2011 (the most recent fact-gathering) published here by the Lexington Institute. Nonetheless, there’s lots of room for improvement when it comes to powering up our homes, where the state’s rank drops to 37th.

One of the biggest bargains statewide is the home energy audit, subsidized by a small charge on your monthly electric bill, and a great way to get the most out of your heating and cooling equipment, with some extras thrown in.

Look at the drawing at the top of the page; it shows all the places in a home where expensive conditioned (heated or cooled) air leaks out, as well as the gaps where hot and cold air from outside find their way in.

According to Jack Starr, the manager of the home performance contracting division of Wesson Energy—they’ve done more than six thousand audits of Connecticut homes—an audit will provide much more than your money’s worth.

“It’s the best-kept secret in Connecticut,” notes Starr.

With a co-pay of $75 for those who heat with gas or electric, and $99 for those who heat with oil or propane, you will get an assessment of your home’s energy efficiency, as well as a number of fixes done free of charge to improve any deficits.

In the case of Wesson’s Home Energy Solutions program (more information here [link: http://www.wessonenergy.com/energy-audits.html ], two professionals, trained in building science and certified by the Building Performance Institute, not only find energy-wasting leaks, but can remediate the problems. They spend from four hours to a full day, sealing leaks, applying spray foam and rigid foam insulation where appropriate. If the HVAC system is correctly sized, the team will seal ducts for greater efficiency. They will also install up to 25 LED and CFL light bulbs to replace less efficient incandescents, and also install low-flow devices on water fixtures throughout the house. It’s a great deal, and lightening your own energy use is a small but significant part of lessening our human impact on the planet.

What else is on the horizon to help with those heating and cooling bills? Starr points to so-called “mini-split” systems that require no ducts and heat and cool with great efficiency. Right now, there are large rebates for this particular energy solution; it’s definitely something to look into.

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