03/03/10 — Fremont teaches energy savings

View Archive

Fremont teaches energy savings

By Laura Collins
Published in News on March 3, 2010 1:46 PM

More than 40 Fremont residents attended the town's energy saving class Tuesday night.

A representative from ElectriCities, Brian McGinn spoke for about 40 minutes on ways to save energy.

"The rates, we can't do anything about the rates, but we can make changes to our habits and our house," he said. "Saving energy isn't going out and buying new windows, it's the small things."

In a home, the heater uses the most energy, so McGinn said it's good to keep the thermostat between 68-72 degrees.

"If you turn it down and put a sweater on, you could save a lot of money," he said.

In the summer, the thermostat should be between 76-80 degrees to avoid high energy bills.

He added that changing the filters once a month also increases energy efficiency.

Water heaters come in second for using the most energy in a home since water heaters work all day, whether water is on or not. McGinn suggests keeping the water heater at or below 120 degrees and turning it off when going out of town.

He said wrapping an indoor or outdoor water heater will help it heat more efficiently.

Refrigerator and freezer efficiency can be increased by making sure the coils behind the refrigerator are cleaned at least once a year. Also, a full refrigerator and freezer is more efficient, so if it can't be filled with food, fill it with milk jugs of water.

McGinn also said to be wary of chimneys.

"Wood fireplaces are losers," he said. "You're losing more heat than you're gaining."

When it comes to windows, McGinn said unless they are falling apart, money used to replace windows can be put to better use. He suggests using that money to add insulation to the attic using R-38 or higher insulation.

"Adding insulation has one of the quickest returns on anything you can do," he said.

McGinn does free energy audits in the area and can point out in each home how to save money.

Mark Smith, of the WAGES weatherization assistance program, also spoke to those in attendance about assistance they offer. The program is administered through the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services and provides an energy audit and improvements for eligible families.

Assistance is available to families with incomes below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level, or households with at least one member receiving cash assistance payments under SSI or TANF.

For a family of one, 200 percent of the poverty threshold is $21,660. For a family of two, 200 percent of the poverty threshold is $29,140, and for a family of three it's $36,620. It increases by $7,480 for every additional household member.

For more information about the program, call the Office of Economic Opportunity at 919-715-5850 or WAGES at 919-734-1178.