Tips offered for energy savings

Published 5:00 am Friday, June 19, 2009

After living in an older house for several years, Brad Martindecided it was time for a change.

Martin, of Norfield, said when it came time to build a newhouse, he did his research and tried to find the best ways to savemoney when the energy bill hits the mailbox each month.

“I originally just researched a lot to try to find out what wasthe best way to create a house where you weren’t spending a lot ofmoney on heating and air conditioning,” he said. “We were in asmall older house paying way more money than we are now, so I didsome research and came up with some things.”

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Martin took such measures as to build the living space wallswith structural insulated panels, caulked off to keep the air frommoving through the cracks. Next he insulated the home with a liquidinsulation that expands to a Styrofoam-like substance that fillscracks and crannies in a open spaces in a home as well.

“It works well for filling the holes and doesn’t transfer heator cool,” he said. “The house is built off the ground, so I hadthem spray it in the crawl space as well. Usually you only have twoor three pieces of wood between the airspace under your house andyour floor.”

A tankless water heater and a programmable thermostat roundedout the energy-efficient home, and now Martin and his family areready to stay comfortable no matter what the weather.

Meanwhile, Bogue Chitto’s Glen Alexander swears – even in thesummer time – by his wood-burning heater. He said he hasn’t had torun a standard water heater in years.

“We have a hardy outside wood-burning heater that heats our hotwater, and it heats the house in the winter time,” he said.

The perpetual water heater keeps his electric bill down to about$80 for 2,100 feet of area, he said, when combined with hishigh-efficiency air-conditioner unit. And the best part is thatthere is never a dearth of hot water, either.

Alexander said through his life, he’s had quite a bit ofpractice in perfecting the art of keeping his homeenergy-efficient, and the wood-burning heater is the bestinvestment yet. He said he’s known them to last up to 25 years,which can be quite a savings. Alexander said the wood-burningheater, which runs around $6,000 for setup, can pay for itself inthree to four years.

“This is the 15th new house I’ve lived in, and this is the lastone, this is it,” he said. “I’ve built about 20 or more, and Iinsulate them well. I do everything I can to keep the cold airin.”

Entergy Customer Accounts Manager Kenny Goza said there areoptions for people who are not immediately equipped for a new houseor a new system that can cost in the thousands. Lowering energybills can be as simple as paying attention to the thermostat orreplacing air filters.

“Saving money on your energy bill is easier than you think,”Goza said. “Conserving energy is not only good for the environment,it’s good for your wallet. And with this economy, every little bithelps.”

Power companies like Entergy suggest that their customers usecompact fluorescent light bulbs, which use 70 percent less energyand last up to 10 times longer than regular light bulbs. Those inthe know also suggest running the dishwasher only when it’s full,and using cold water for doing laundry.