One of the greatest source of energy is not using it the first place. This has the added benefit of reducing the need to explore, acquire, transform, transport, and provide energy to the home which, in and of themselves, use energy and have a carbon footprint. The home’s use of energy accounts for a significant portion of all energy produced so it’s a logical place to begin.
Reducing energy use in the home is a two-pronged effort. The first is changing our behaviors. For example, do we really need to cool our homes to 72 degrees in the summer? Wouldn’t we be comfortable at 75? The second is building homes to be more energy efficient and modifying existing homes to be more so as well. Rural Action is focusing on the behavior changes and the modification of existing homes.
The process of modifying an existing home begins with a home energy audit. This audit involves bringing experts into your home to examine how energy is used and how it is wasted such as inadequate attic insulation or air leaks. The auditor will then make suggestions on modifications to use the energy more efficiently and reduce the waste. The suggestions can cover a wide spectrum from simple, such as ventilation duct sealing, to significant, such as increasing the wall thickness of the home to accommodate more insulation. The homeowner can then choose if and what retrofits they would like to do. Depending on the home, over time, the cost of the retrofit can be offset by the savings in energy bills.
This all sounds simple so why isn’t it being done on a wide basis? Many officials at both the state and federal level are scratching their heads at that same question. Despite the number of incentive programs offered there have been relatively few home energy retrofits performed in Appalachian Ohio. The Rural Action Energy Committee has not yet found the formula to move this forward either but we are working on some great ideas.
Our current focus is in a partnership formed with a number of community action groups, non-profit organizations, and businesses to approach the problem at the community level. This group is new and we are just getting our footing and naturally, success relies on engagement of the members of the community.
It’s exciting to be on the forefront of this effort and we welcome other member of Rural Action and members of communities throughout Appalachian Ohio to become involved. If you would like to volunteer time or just offer ideas, please contact Robin Kinney at firstname.lastname@example.org.