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!
Six Quick Steps to Ready Your Home for Winter
Did you know that this Sunday, November 4th, our clocks “fall behind” for the fall and winter? As you switch your clocks back, take a few extra minutes to make sure your home remains energy efficient all through the cold weather months.
Six Quick Steps to Ready Your Home for Winter:
1. Plug laptop AC adapters, cell phone chargers and other electronic devices into a power strip. These electronics continue to draw electricity, even when they are not in use. Look for green power plugs that allow you to leave some electronics turned on, like your DVR.
2. Clean your refrigerator coils on the back of the fridge where dust builds up. You’ll help one of the biggest energy hogging appliances in your home run more efficiently and longer!
3. Reset your programmable thermostat to the coolest comfortable temperature to save on heating costs. Decrease the temperature when you go to bed or leave your home for the day. Ready your home for winter; install storm windows and reduce heat loss through the windows by 25-50%
4. Replace five regular light bulbs with ENERGY STAR qualified light bulbs and save an average of 1,880 kWh over the lifetime of the bulbs. That’s enough energy to light your whole house for nearly 11 months.
5. Grab a can of spray foam and seal all the gaps where air can leak in or out of your home, including those around windows, doors, wiring holes, recessed lights, plumbing vents, your attic hatch, and more. Stopping drafts can make you feel more comfortable and reduce energy bills.
6. Switch the direction of your ceiling fans. Most ceiling fans have a switch on the motor which allows you to control the direction of the blade. In the winter, the blades should move clockwise to force the warm air down.
Help Your Students Conserve Energy for Back-to-School
School is about to start up again, and kids are making the most of their final days at home. Parents, are you having your kids start getting back into the swing of things by giving them worksheets and other activities?
You might want to take a look at the activities Virginia Energy Sense has created in collaboration with educators and the VA Department of Education. Our fun energy efficiency activities are geared toward third, fourth and fifth graders and build upon science and math standards. The materials feature such lessons as:
- It All Adds Up: A two-part activity about components of an electricity bill and how to track energy usage.
- Saving At Home: A three-part math lesson about how much electricity common household appliances use.
- Value Your Power Family Scoreboard: Students work with their families to track their energy habits and come up with ideas to save energy.
- Poster: Features energy-saving tips by room and provides space for students’ ideas to reduce energy use.
To download a digital copy of the activities, visit our ‘At School’ page.
If these activities leave your kids wanting to learn more, check out these additional educational resources:
- For a more detailed bill explanation and information on reading your electric meter, visit the Understand Your Bill page.
- To learn more about appliance energy waste visit the Smart Appliance Use page.
- For more information on how to help kids save energy, visit our Tumblr blog for .
- If you want more details on how to save energy in your classroom, visit the ‘At School’ Energy Saving Tips page.
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
Does Your Home Pass the Energy Test?
Are you trying to figure out if your home is energy efficient? A good first step is our new Home Energy Test. The test allows you to easily evaluate your home’s energy use in just a few minutes. At the end, you’ll receive a report that suggests ways you can save energy.
Here’s how it works:
1) Go to our home page www.virginiaenergysense.organd click on the photo of the house.
2) Fill out your first and last name, city, zip and e-mail, then click “Submit.” Be sure your e-mail address is correct. That’s where you’ll get your results!
3) Click next if your e-mail is correct, and then click “Start New Assessment.”
4) Fill out information about your home in each of the five categories: Your Home, Insulation, Heating & Cooling, Appliances & Electrical and Utilities. It’s okay if you don’t know the answer! Just click on the tips for help. Once you’refinished, click “Get My Results.”
5) That’s it! You’re finished. You’ll receive an email with the results within a minute or two.
6) The results will detail some steps you can take to improve the efficiency of your home to save energy and money.
See how easy that is?