LaLonde: Go green

Sunday, December 19, 2010 at 10:05pm
By Kristine LaLonde

My husband and I have always tried to keep our energy consumption down by setting our thermostat a little warmer in the summer and a little cooler in the winter. We wore sweaters in winter and ran fans in the warmer months. What we didn’t realize is that those efforts didn’t add up to as much as we hoped because our house was almost completely without insulation.

We lived in what was essentially equivalent to a screened porch. 

We learned how much energy — and money — we were losing out of our house when we first participated in “Go Green, District 18,” an initiative to lower the energy use and carbon footprint of one Nashville neighborhood. As part of the program, a trained energy-use evaluator examined the walls, basement and attic of our 80-year-old house. He then gave us a list of steps we could take — from small to major — to better insulate our home. 

After the evaluation, we decided to have insulation blown into our walls, a vapor seal put in our basement, and extra insulation blown into our attic. Now we use less energy to heat and cool our home. For the first time, when the temperature dropped, our downstairs floors didn’t feel cold on bare feet. Another friend who participated in the Go Green program said the cold drafts that had plagued his winters were now gone.

The many crises related to energy consumption and climate change can seem overwhelming to all of us. What can one person do? What many people don’t realize is that 40 percent of our nation’s energy use goes into heating, cooling and operating our buildings. Older homes, like the majority of homes in my neighborhood, often have even greater heating and cooling costs. Retrofitting these homes can have a tremendous impact on energy consumption. 

The program also has an impact on our pocketbooks. While the initial evaluation fee is $150, that money is refunded to homeowners if they do any of the work recommended with an approved local contractor. Additional funds are available from the Tennessee Valley Authority and through tax-credit programs. Even small steps, like insulating ductwork, can have a positive effect on energy bills. Energy costs are likely to skyrocket in the future, and the impact on our energy bills will be significant.  

When we add our own steps to those of others, our impact can grow even larger. We started the “Go Green, District 18” program as a pilot one year ago. More than 300 homeowners are already participating in the program, an initiative of the Urban Land Institute Nashville, Village Real Estate Services and Nashville Electric Service. Throughout the neighborhood, families are proudly displaying yard signs stating their support for Go Green and encouraging their neighbors to do the same. We are reducing the overall carbon footprint of one place on the map. 

The retrofitting program has expanded from District 18 to include more neighborhoods in Nashville. District 6 has launched “District 6 Energy Fix” and District 25 has begun “Greener Hills.” Other neighborhood initiatives will start up in the coming months. 

Everyone in the Nashville community can participate and make their home more energy efficient, even if they do not live in a neighborhood currently engaged in the Go Green program. Please visit the Go Green Nashville website at gogreen-nashville.com to learn more. 

Kristine LaLonde represents District 18 on the Metro Council


20 Comments on this post:

By: budlight on 12/20/10 at 7:46

I cut my bill 33% by hanging cloths on line instead of dryer use. Last year 1459 KWH; this year 1092 KWH.

TO reward me, Obama wants me to pay for Green car electricity. The middle class can't win for losing to Obama. Now his ice cream, hamburger eating family wants kids to eat healthier. HA, ha, ha, they are clowns.

Said lalonde "The program also has an impact on our pocketbooks. While the initial evaluation fee is $150,""

Get a grip Kris That is 3 tanks of gas for a poor or middle class family or 2 weeks of groceries for a poor family of 4 to 6. Yes it does impact on our pocketbooks. Maybe not yours. So this "evaluation" should be free to the electric bill paying customers.

By: Captain Nemo on 12/20/10 at 8:04

Shut up troll

By: Ellie G on 12/20/10 at 8:43

> So this "evaluation" should be free to the electric bill paying customers.

How many other companies will pay for you to learn how to use less of their product?
Why should I pay for a contractor to come to your house and do this?

I don't understand your logic.

By: yogiman on 12/20/10 at 8:57

Sorry, budlight, I must disagree with you. The Obamas aren't clowns, they are thieves. At least he is, and she apparently goes right along with him; when he stole the White House. Why did she finally begin to "love" America? At their ages, I'm sure the children don't know what "Daddy" did.... yet.

As for saving energy in homes; my old house is almost 200 years old and has walls that are three bricks thick. I do think, after my wife's passing, I might go back on the old "clothes line" . It always seemed the clothes smelled better when dried in the sun and wind.

By: yogiman on 12/20/10 at 9:07

Captain Nemo,

It is interesting how you can call some of the other posters on this site "damn fools" when being irked when one makes a comment you don't approve of.

How about self following your personal advice, Nimrod. I thought for sometime you was being facetious but apparently I mad a mistake on that matter. You seem to want, "don't do as I do, do as I want you to do"

By: dargent7 on 12/20/10 at 9:30

Those of us who are in our late 40's and above, remember the 70's when we were told to dial down the thermostat. Instead of setting it at 85, we lived with 75.
We use a clothes line...available from mid-April to mid-November.
I don't know about Sidiot's husband, but I don't like ice in my shorts.
An icy stare is all I'm up for.

By: AmyLiorate on 12/20/10 at 9:51

Bud that is awesome that you saved so much by using a clothes line. Of course most city codes don't allow you to put a new clothes line up. :( Oh the little things we must protect ourselves from.

The program shouldn't be free, it already is. What is the point in getting the evaluation done if you aren't going to follow through on the recommendations? In the long run you will save more than you spend. People need to think long term and not just about next month.

Yogi's house is that old? Must be impressive, any cool historic facts about a house as old as the state?

By: girliegirl on 12/20/10 at 10:06

I tried that "clothes line thingy" once...birds pooped on my stuff. I'm done with that idea! LOL As for going green, the newer homes have better windows, better insulation, and so on, plus our appliances are "green" rated. Older homes in Nashville aren't so lucky.

By: girliegirl on 12/20/10 at 10:07

@Dargent7.... Remember when Carter was controlling our thermostats? Yes, I do. I still like to follow that rule, but not to the insane level he suggested. :-)

By: girliegirl on 12/20/10 at 10:09

Grocery bill yesterday was $411 for a family of 7, and it's almost twice what it was last year, while buying nearly the very same items. So much for printing free money, eh?

By: gdiafante on 12/20/10 at 10:21

You really are clueless, aren't you girlie? lol

By: dargent7 on 12/20/10 at 11:17

Girl, etal: NO way your grocery bill is twice what it was for the same stuff as last year.
I shop Kroger, Harris Teeter, and Publix. All stores have "Buy one, get one free", and if you buy one, you get 50% off.
Either you don't know how to shop or you're just blowin' smoke.
I lived on Maui for 12 years and food was 50% more than here. It's cheap here. Real cheap.

By: yogiman on 12/20/10 at 11:22

Eat more beans, girliegirl. It'll save you a lot of money. One of the best nourishing foods you can eat. And if you want a little sage advice from a crazy old man, put two tablespoons of caster oil in your bean pot thirty minutes before they are done. It will take the gas out of them.

You don't need to eat all of those steaks. And wait until after the first of the year. Every thing is going up.

By: yogiman on 12/20/10 at 11:28

Ami,

I've only been able to trace my house back to 1816. At that time it was built on a full section of land. But there's houses everywhere around here now.

By the way, I've run across a 55 acre farm with a brick house and several barns and out buildings for. The price on it was $159,000. If interested, I'll look into it to see if it is still on the market. It's about three miles off of Highway 70 out if Alexandria.

By: AmyLiorate on 12/20/10 at 11:56

hmm, I'll talk it over with the family.

After looking around the market I'm not sure we want to buy anything right now. We'd like to but moving to the country would mean changing everyones life style: jobs, etc.

d7 is right about shopping. If you stock up on things that you need when they're on sale the cost for groceries really isn't much. With coupons and enough room in the pantry you can really leverage a 50% off deal. It's not often, but I've come through the checkout with $80 list price and paid only $30. Look for deals and your dollar will go much further. It is funny to see the expression on the clerks face when they look at the total.

By: AmyLiorate on 12/20/10 at 12:00

http://www.thegrocerygame.com/

Try it, see if it doesn't work for you.

By: AmyLiorate on 12/20/10 at 12:17

Way, way too willing to fly on a plane:
http://tribblogs.com/fly/2010/12/my-tsa-pat-down-photo-on-boingboing/

By: budlight on 12/22/10 at 9:55

Ellie G on 12/20/10 at 8:43
> So this "evaluation" should be free to the electric bill paying customers.

How many other companies will pay for you to learn how to use less of their product?
Why should I pay for a contractor to come to your house and do this?

Actually, if THEY - the establishment - wants US to cut back, THEY should cough up THEIR profits to pay for it.

I mean it's THEM who wants US to cut back while THEY live high on the hog.

bye, bye now. For God SO LOVED the world . . .

By: yogiman on 12/22/10 at 10:52

LaLonde made a statement about lowering their thermostat in the winter and raising it in the summer. Why not just set your thermostat at one point and leave it alone? Can't you feel comfortable at the same temperature in both seasons?

I have mine set at 68, winter and summer. Why run back and forth to constantly re-set it? That could get you tired and work up a sweat.

By: tidemaniac on 12/27/10 at 1:16

First, you get the $150 back if that amount of work is performed within 90 days. So, if you are motivated to save energy, the evaluation is essentially free.

Yogi - 68 degrees in the summer is costing you a LOT of money. Every degree you set your thermostat below 78 in the summer costs you one to three percent more on your cooling cost. A 68 degree home in the summer will you cost you much more than a 78 degree setting. In the winter, every degree ABOVE 68 also costs one to three percent more on your heating costs.

I don't look at saving energy as a social or political thing. It's a personal, financial choice.