I consider myself to be a person who lives by sustainable principles.

But, like all of us, I only had so much bandwidth, headspace, time, brainpower—whatever you want to call it; and with my specialty being recycling and waste reduction, I wanted to branch out to other areas where I could live more sustainably. I had already earned the Frederick County Green Home Challenge’s Green Leader status; my next step was to  achieve Power Saver status.

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 Why would a recycling expert spend so much time on energy?

So the most likely place to start, since installing solar and wind power were stretching outside our current budget (college kids and all that) was energy-saving solutions. We knew these would make us more comfortable, save money AND help our sustainability goals.

To undertake this, the best way to start is to spend some time analyzing your energy useage on Potomac Edison’s website.

You do this by finding First Energy; log in where you pay your Potomac Edison bill. Choose Save Energy/Home Energy Analyzer. By typing in facts and figures about your home, you can learn:

  1. Your 1-year historic energy useage
  2. A pie chart that shows what consumes the most energy in your home. (See ours below)
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3. How you stack up against others in your area. We were $1 above the average home useage, so it gave us something to strive for.
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4. Go to the “Improve” section to find specific strategies, depending on how much time and effort you want to invest, to save energy and money.

5. I selected  “one choice”—accomplishing one big thing. I figured that would be do-able. It meant I would invest a few hours into the solution.

Lights

The plan they put before me told me I could replace all the lights in my fixtures with compact fluorescents and save $98 per year. It said my upfront cost would be $66. Sounded doable, it also promised less time having to change bulbs all year—YAY!

That seemed too easy, so I went back to look at Weekend Warrior, getting excited; maybe this was something I could actually do!

It gave me choices of what to spend, how hard it would be, and how long it would take. By choosing $300, a few hours, and middle-of-the-road easy, I found two choices that I liked:

*Caulk and weatherize (I knew a lot of places needed it) and

*Maintain your Heating System. They both seemed practical, but since I knew I had already gotten a quote from Frederick Air to come look at our HVAC (it had been four years since we had a new system installed), so I decided to go for that. The online plan said it should save me $239 with an investment of $85 (though Frederick Air’s quote was slightly higher.)

With these strategies in my mind, I decided I was ready to have an energy audit made, to see if it gave me the same advice. I chose my friend Tim from Glory Energy.

How to Pay For It

We had heard about a program that provides a rebate back of the investment you make in your energy improvements from Potomac Edison (FirstEnergy). This is possible if you have a home energy audit and use an approved partner of the program (See www.energysavemd.com). That seemed like a practical way to get these things started.

How to Find a Vendor

There are five approved vendors in Frederick County, so using one of them made sense.

I noticed that Glory Energy, one of the earliest providers of home energy audits in Frederick County and someone I had gotten to know in sustainability circles, was on the list.  Tim Jones has been involved with the Frederick County Sustainability Commission (where he is now a member) for many years, and I had met him at Green Drinks events in previous years, so I gave them a call.

Stay tuned for the next installment: The Audit.