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Deerfield campaign to offer energy tour on Saturday

DEERFIELD — Ten Deerfield homes will be open for the public on Saturday for residents to see how their neighbors have altered their homes to save energy.

The neighborhood tour is part of the Deerfield Energy Resources Committee’s 12/12 campaign to encourage Deerfield households to reduce their energy use by 12 percent in the year 2012. The energy tour is a partnership with the larger organization, the Northeast Sustainable Energy Association Green Buildings Open House, held on the same day.

Houses that will be open on the tour are required to have undergone energy efficiency changes. For instance, the home of Energy Committee member M.A. Swedlund will be one of the 10 on the tour. Swedlund recently installed a solar shed at her home to save energy and costs.

“I’m a staunch believer in climate change. It is essential we all work to start reducing our energy use so we can have a livable world,” Swedlund said.

On the tour, Swedlund said the committee hopes to encourage residents to have an energy audit by WMECO. During the audit, WMECO may change the homeowner’s incandescent light bulbs with LED lighting, seal air leaks and educate homeowners on simple changes they can make to their homes.

The tour is part two of the Deerfield Energy Committee’s education campaign. In July, the committee erected a large sign on the lawn of the Tilton Public Library to track residents’ average energy use.

Each month, the Deerfield Energy Resources Committee’s 12/12 Campaign posts the monthly average Deerfield household electricity usage on the sign in front of the Tilton Library. The sign tracks the town’s commitment to reduce its energy use by 20 percent over the next five years. It does not track the library’s energy use or that of town buildings.

The Energy Committee hopes residents look at the numbers on the library lawn and compare the town’s average to their individual bills.

The current number of 759 kwh is for August. Residents can look at their WMECO bill for August and compare whether they used more or less energy and look for what they can do to reduce their electricity bills.

Already, Yankee Candle has saved 3.5 million kwh in the past year and a half by changing incandescent bulbs to LED bulbs in the village store, Swedlund said.

To get the monthly average, the committee divides the total amount of electricity Deerfield residents use by the total number of Deerfield customers. The information is provided by WMECO.

The project focuses on electricity savings because it is the only data the Deerfield Energy Committee can find. Local oil companies could not provide numbers, Swedlund said.

The sign builds on a commitment the town made last year to reduce its energy usage by 20 percent in five years as part of its push to be recognized as a Green Community. Part of Deerfield’s proposal to be a Green Community was to include a public education program. The 12-12 campaign serves to educate the public on how much energy they use and how making small changes, such as changing the type of light bulbs they use, can save energy.

Although the committee is measuring electricity savings, it encourages residents to make changes to all energy use.

“We’re talking about electricity because it is the only one we can track. Hopefully, residents start looking at heating and oil bills,” Swedlund said.

According to data provided by the 12/12 campaign, low-cost ways to save energy include taking a five-minute or less shower to save 9,125 gallons of water per year, filling a reusable water bottle to cut the number of plastic bottles used, and replacing light bulbs with an energy-efficient bulb. One company fluorescent bulb saves about 600 pounds of coal over the life of the bulb.

The way a person gets from one place to another can also impact energy use. Driving the speed limit, 55 mph, also saves 30 percent in fuel costs compared with driving 75 mph. Walking, biking and carpooling also saves money.

To save energy in the home, use a fan rather than an air conditioner, use cold water in the washing machine, and seal ductwork in the forced hot air heating system.

To volunteer your home for the tour, contact M.A. Swedlund at 413-774-3337.

Kathleen McKiernan can be reached at kmckiernan@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext 268.

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