By Adam Sheffield, Appalachian Voices Video and Outreach Assistant
Our new video series offers a variety of easy energy efficiency tips to lower electric bills while reducing energy waste.
Let’s face it. When it comes to the weather in Appalachia, we’ve got it all. We have bitter cold winters, soaking wet springs, hot humid summers and chilling autumns. Each of the four seasons comes with gifts as well as a set of energy challenges.
For our neighbors to the south, homes face the challenge of cooling the air in their homes, battling humidity and hot temperatures. To many of our neighbors in the north, heating their homes in the winter is the main goal. But here in Appalachia, our mountain climate has characteristics that require our homes to confront both heat and cold.
While many mountain homes do not have air conditioning units due to Appalachia’s milder summers, some newer homes in the region are being built with AC while others install window units. As for the winter, it is difficult to survive the season in Appalachia without heating your home. Heating methods vary from home to home, with some homes using wood-burning stoves, propane furnaces, kerosene monitors, or electric baseboard heaters instead of central HVAC units.
Regardless of the type of heating system, winter heating costs are a financial burden for many families. Some systems are more expensive than others, and older systems are more costly to use than newer, more energy-efficient models. The point is that we all want to be comfortable during the cold winter months, but we also want to save on our energy costs.
Appalachian Voices’ Energy Savings for Appalachia promotes programs that help Appalachian residents lower their energy costs. A goal of our campaign is to create a widespread network of support and promote energy efficiency financing programs through electric cooperatives. We are working in western North Carolina and East Tennessee, but we are part of a larger regional and national movement to expand access to affordable home energy efficiency financing for residents of all income levels. Education is a key part of our work, and one way we are helping residents lower their energy costs is by creating and sharing some short Do-It-Yourself videos.
This post’s short video features John Kidda, founder and president of reNew Homes, Inc., in Boone, N.C. In the video, John discusses using programmable thermostats as a way to save on heating and cooling, and the benefits of using one in an Appalachian home. John points out that lower temperature settings — and lower energy use — during the colder winter season are easier to achieve when the home is properly insulated and air leakage is minimized.
Programmable thermostats have features which allow the homeowner to set the temperature in their home to operate around a schedule. There is no need to leave the air conditioner or heat running while you’re away at work all day. The same can be said about winter settings when you are asleep in bed at night, cuddled under your warm blanket. Why run the heat on high all night long? Program your thermostat to turn the heat on right before your normal wakeup time. Then, set the thermostat to a lower temperature while you’re away from home or headed to bed. Some thermostats can even be adjusted from a mobile device.
Prices range from as low as $50 to over $300. Many programmable thermostats now include instant rebates. By switching to a programmable thermostat, you can lower your energy cost by 10 percent in the first year.
Watch our heating and cooling video and let us know what you think! We will be releasing additional videos in the coming months. If you are interested in learning more, contact me at (828) 262-1500, or by email at adam.sheffield@appVoices.org.