Partners making an energy-efficient difference: CORNERSTONE ARCHITECTS
(This is the first post in a series highlighting the great energy efficiency work Virginia Energy Sense partners are achieving across the state.)
Located in Richmond, Virginia, Cornerstone Architects is an architecture and interior design firm committed to building environmentally friendly structures that make a statement and a contribution to the community. Recently signed on as a Virginia Energy Sense partner, Cornerstone Architects just completed the Emergency Command Center project located at the Hunter Holmes McGuire Veterans’ Administration Hospital. This LEED Silver building project services more than 200,000 veterans coming from 52 cities and counties covering 22,515 miles of central and southern Virginia. The building incorporates energy saving strategies including a super insulated building envelope, high efficiency mechanical equipment, LED lighting, light controls and occupancy sensors.
The firm also owns a historical building in the “Old and Historic District” in downtown Richmond. This location allows employees to walk to several client sites and a variety of lunch options, further reducing their environmental footprint. The Cornerstone Architects team recently improved the energy consumption in the building by applying a “White Roof” coating that increases reflectance, cuts down on heat gain, lowers the electric bill and extends the life of the roof.
Have an energy efficiency story you’d like to share? We’d love to hear what you’re doing and any ideas on how your company/organization can help encourage Virginians to reduce their energy use. For your chance to be featured, contact the Virginia Energy Sense team at Tabitha@virginiaenergysense.org.
Deck the Halls With Minimal Cost
We’re noticing lots of holiday decorations up already! You can make your home festive for the holidays without ruining your energy efficiency efforts. Read on to learn a few simple ways you can make sure your home is full of holiday cheer with minimal impact on your utility bill this season:
Tip 1: Get Creative
Skip lights and go for old-fashioned and edible decor. Gingerbread men, candy canes and popcorn strings make great decorations— and require zero energy!
Make your home sparkle by strategically placing tinsel, glittered stars and other shiny to catch lights already in use. They will give off a twinkle similar to lights and keep your energy use down over the holidays.
Tip 2: If you can’t skip lights, choose LEDs
Did you know it costs about $10.00 to light a six-foot tree for 12 hours a day for 40 days with incandescent lights? To light that same tree with mini-LEDs for the same amount of time costs about $.82—now that’s what I call savings.
As you pull decorations out of storage, check your lights. If they’re damaged or you’re using incandescent bulbs, consider swapping them for LED bulbs and mini-lights.
You can find energy efficient lights in a variety of colors at most local hardware and retail stores. Before you buy, search ENERGY STAR’s Special Offer/Rebate Finder to find deals and other incentives. Enter your zip code to find rebates near you.
Tip 3: Set a Timer
Automatic timers make it easier for you to schedule your holiday lights to shine… when you want them to! Look for timer models that come with dusk/dawn sensors or shut off after a specific length of time. Newer models also have settings to create a light show and can even be combined with music—a fun addition if you’re hosting a holiday party.
If you don’t have a timer, consider plugging lights into centrally located power strips to make it easier to turn them off before you go to bed or leave the house.
Question of the Week: what’s a lumen?
It’s no secret that our home lighting choices have become significantly more efficient. Now, instead of measuring our old, incandescent light bulbs by the amount of energy they use (watts), we’re measuring them by the amount of light they emit (lumens). This new measurement helps ensure you pick bulbs that use the least amount of energy while providing the appropriate brightness you need! Here are some tips to make sure you get the right bulbs for you:
1) Before your next trip to the hardware store, think about your home. What kind of lighting do you need? Are you looking for energy efficient light bulbs for reading, or a brighter bulb for your desk? Make a list of your lighting needs.
Tip: There are also free mobile apps to help you while at the store, including Light Bulb Finder, the winner of the U.S. EPA’s Apps for the Environment contest.
2) Bookmark this graphic from the FTC to help you remember what kind of light bulbs you’re looking for.
3) Once you get to the store, take a look at each bulb’s packaging label. It will include important information you’ll want to consider, including:
· Brightness (in lumens)
· Yearly estimated energy cost
· Expected bulb life (in years)
· Light appearance (how warm or cool the light will look)
· Wattage (the energy used)
For more information on other simple steps you can take to reduce your energy use at home, check out the Virginia Energy Sense Do-It-Yourself Guide, full of low and no cost projects to help you Value Your Power!
Looking for home energy efficiency incentives and rebates? The search is over—
Looking to make some big energy-efficiency changes in your home? We can help!
Virginia Energy Sense has compiled an easy-to-use list of all federal, state and utility incentives available to Virginians. These can help you offset purchases and installation costs of energy efficiency upgrades and equipment, and can even help you lower your tax bill. Now that’s a deal!
Here’s a brief overview of the incentives available, but be sure to visit our Incentives page to find direct links to more information.
Renewable Energy Rebates
- Renewable Energy Tax Credit – 30%tax credit for renewable energy purchases
Appliances and Energy Efficiency Equipment
- Charlottesville Gas Residential Energy Efficiency Rebate – $100 rebate for energy efficient equipment
- City of Danville Utilities Home$ave Rebate Program – $25-$350 rebates for energy efficient products
- Columbia Gas Energy Efficiency Rebate – $50-$300 rebates for energy efficient appliances
- Geothermal Heat Pump Rebate – 20% rebates for geothermal heat pumps
- Load Management Program for Electric Water Heaters and HVAC – Rebates for energy efficient hot water heaters and/or HVAC repairs
- Thermostat Rebate for Charlottesville Gas Customers – $100 rebate for the purchase and/or installation of a programmable thermostat
Audits and Home Efficiency Improvements
- Dominion Virginia Power Free Home Energy Audit for Income-Qualified Customers – A free in-home energy audit for Dominion customers
- Dominion Virginia Power Smart Cooling Rewards for Smart Switch Installation – A $40 rebate for Dominion customers who participating in Smart Switch program
- Home Energy Loss Prevention (HELP) – Free visual energy audit; rebate for selection of energy efficient equipment and other energy and cost-saving home repair benefits
- NEXT STEP Energy Efficiency Rebates (Hampton Roads Area Residents) – $1500 rebates for non-appliance Energy Star Upgrades; $2,500 for air sealing, duct sealing, & insulation
- Rappahannock Electric Cooperative – Free energy audit
- WarmWise Home Savings Evaluation – Free online energy audit
- Weatherization Assistance Program – Financial assistance for weatherization
How to: Reduce Energy Costs with Window Dressings
Curtains, shutters, shades and blinds—did you know these window coverings could actually save you money? Believe it or not, both indoor and outdoor window coverings are great ways to reduce heating and cooling costs year-round.
Here are a few examples to help you save energy by using window coverings:
- Window awnings can reduce solar heat gain in the summer by up to 65% on south-facing windows and up to 77% on west-facing windows.
- Window blinds—vertical or horizontal slat-type—are more effective at reducing summer heat gain than winter heat loss.
- Draperies should be hung as close to the windows as possible and should fall to the floor or windowsill to reduce heat exchange or convection.
- Installing an insulating window panel or pop-in shutter is a fairly simple DIY project that doesn’t require any hardware. Panels are made so that the edges seal tightly against the window frame. Seals can be made from magnetic tape or Velcro.
- Mesh window screens can diffuse solar radiation, reducing heat gain in the summer. Effective on east- and west-facing windows, the screens are mounted in an exterior frame and cover the entire window.
- Properly designed exterior shutters may provide the best possible window insulation system in addition to several other advantages:
o Weather protection
o Added security
o Doesn’t require interior space
o No thermal shock to windows if left closed.
For more information on how you can save energy around your home, visit the Virginia Energy Sense website’s ‘At Home’ section.
2012 Resolutions at Work
Did you make your resolutions at the stroke of midnight this year? As January days quickly slip away, we hope you’re still hard at work setting and working toward the goals you’ve set for 2012! Virginia Energy Sense has a goal of its own and wants your help to achieve it—a 10% reduction in energy use across the state.
Making and keeping a resolution to reduce energy use this year (and for many years to come!) not only helps Virginia reach its goal in making the Commonwealth a better to place to live, but it will also reduce your utility costs! What will you do with those extra dollars in 2012?
To get started today on saving energy, check out our ‘Top 12 for 2012’ for tips to help keep your energy saving pledge on track all year long. Also, don’t forget there’s still time to enter the Virginia Energy Sense Resolutions Sweepstakes. Just login to Facebook today and check the box to select which resolution you’ll commit to this year - or make your own. The contest runs through February 5th and a winner will be selected for the chance to win a gift pack full of energy efficient gadgets.
See how many energy saving actions you can take at home, work or school this year. Help your friends, family and neighbors do the same by reminding them to ‘Value Your Power!’
Energy-Saving Tips in Time for the Holidays
This post is the first in our month-long series featuring tips to help Virginians reduce energy use during this holiday season.
Holidays are always a busy time of year, and it can be difficult to keep up your energy efficiency efforts during the season. Whether you’re hosting a big holiday dinner, traveling long distances to be with family, or spending time at home with close friends, holiday activities can often mean increased energy use and higher utility bills. But don’t you pout— Virginia Energy Sense has you covered with tips on how you can keep your energy use in check this season. Here are a few energy saving tips to consider this season which may help put a few extra cents in your wallet just in time for gift giving.
- For a truly energy efficient tree, skip lights and go for old-fashion and edible decor. Gingerbread men, candy canes and popcorn strings make great decorations— and a project the kids can enjoy!
- If you absolutely adore a twinkling tree of lights, consider making the switch to new mini lights or LED-powered ones. They can be up to 70% more energy efficient than traditional bulbs, which can use up to 10 watts each!
- After you decorate the tree, consider connecting light timers to save energy and prevent potential fire hazards. If you decide not to use a timer, be sure to unplug your lights when you go to sleep or leave home.
- Decking your home with tinsel, stars and other decorations that don’t use any electricity is a great way to keep your energy use down over the holidays. Tinsel and mirrored decorations will catch lights already in use giving off a twinkle similar to lights.