Weatherization saves cash
Saving money was the name of the game Tuesday night as Watauga residents gathered at the Agricultural Conference Center on Poplar Grove Road.
The folks at Cooperative Extension were on hand at the Weatherization Workshop teaching ways to save cash and the environment, one compact fluorescent lightbulb at a time.
Each workshop participant got CFL (compact fluorescent) bulbs, an environmentally friendly showerhead and something worth $250, a discount on home energy audits. Workshop participants can get the audits for $100, and they're worth the cost, even without the discount, Cooperative Extension's Margie Mansure said.
"It will give them a complete look at their house and what they need to do to be more efficient," she said.
Audits identify moisture problems, health and safety issues and even problems that may be apparent after weatherization.
Moisture problems are a common find, Cooperative Extension's John Kidda said.
"We find buildings that are about four to five times leakier than they should be," he said, including leaks both in a buidling's structure and its HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system.
That wastes water and money.
Another easy thing homeowners can do is switch out their lightbulbs with compact fluorescent ones. While the CFLs may cost more money in the short term, long term, they'll save you hundreds.
Yet another easy fix is adding insulation to a water heater. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, that "can reduce standby heat losses by as much as 25 to 45 percent."
Workshop attendees learned (thanks to Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corporation literature) that water heating isn't just expensive, it's the third largest energy expense in the home, typically accounting for 13 to 17 percent of a utility bill, and cutting costs down is easy.
Consumers can use less hot water, turn down the thermostat on their water heaters (you won't notice if it's just a few degrees), insulate their water heater or buy a new, more efficient model.
"This is the time of the year when people don't think about it ... but sometimes people don't want to get out and do it when it's cold outside," Mansure said.
Mansure says, if interest is expressed, the Cooperative Extension will hold another workshop. For more information, contact Cooperative Extension at (828) 264-3061.