Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ninth Annual DuPage Environmental Summit

The Ninth Annual DuPage Environmental Summit at Benedictine University held on January 11, 2012, exceeded the expectations of its sponsors.  If you missed it, fear not.  The slides and other materials have been posted by the Conservation Foundation at

Attendance was higher this year, perhaps due to heightened awareness and interest in energy policy issues, and a growth in opportunities for renewable energy.  There was an interesting mix of private vendors, environmental professionals, and advocacy organizations.  The information sharing, lectures, and informal networing were exciting. 

In the weeks ahead you can read blog posts that highlight new opportunities to by renewable energy that is home-grown in Illinois.  Even if you can't put solar panels on your own home, the Illinois Solar Energy Association has helped make it possible to sign up for solar energy generated by others in the area. 

We will also be explaining community choice aggregation, and the currently available options for Glen Ellyn residents to buy wind power.  Yes, wind power is available now at reasonable rates.  Finally, it is still important to conserve power and to improve the efficiency of our appliances.  ComEd and Nicor have asked Cool Cities groups to help promote these new initiatives that offer unprecedented value to the homeowner.  Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Home Energy Savings Program Focuses on Glen Ellyn

As announced in today's Village of Glen Ellyn e-Newsletter, a new Home Energy Savings Program

The Home Energy Savings Program is a joint program offered to customers of both Nicor Gas and ComEd living in single family homes. The program offers a comprehensive home energy savings assessment that will evaluate opportunities for energy efficiency upgrades and provides financial incentives for completing those upgrades. A trained, Building Performance Institute (BPI) - certified Energy Advisor will conduct the assessment for a cost of $99.

This assessment includes:

Complete review of the home's HVAC, hot water, lighting, insulation, air leakage and major appliances;

Installation of up to 10 compact fluorescent light bulbs, high efficiency faucet aerators and shower heads, and hot water pipe wrap;

Installation of a programmable thermostat, if desired, at a discounted price of $21.89;

Incentives of up to $1,250 to complete recommended energy efficiency improvements; and

Incentivized weatherization work done by BPI certified CSG subcontractors.

The energy advisor will conduct the following tests as part of the energy assessment process:

Combustion safety - a diagnostic test of fuel-burning appliances for carbon monoxide levels;

Infrared camera scan that assesses air sealing and insulation opportunities.

Upon the conclusion of the assessment, the energy advisor will provide homeowners with a printout of their home's energy "road map" outlining a complete set of the energy saving home improvements they can make, and the incentives they are eligible to receive.

For more information, please call 877-821-9988 or visit the Nicor Gas Rebates website.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Adventures in TV shopping

Finally, our old television died.  After a brief period of mourning, we found ourselves motivated to find a replacement.  But what would it be?  A friend advised "you need to get a big wide-screen, you will love it."  My first thought was, they can be energy hogs.  In a household where we are looking for reasonable ways to cut energy use, this could be step backward.

So off to the stores we go.  A couple of things did not surprise me.  First, the bigger the screen, the more energy it takes, and second, the newer sets are more efficient than the older ones.

A few surprises.  Prices are dropping quite dramatically.  This may not bode well for the environment if every room in every home has a TV, all of them operating at once.  Another surprise:  almost every model on display had an Energy Star sticker.  I had thought that Energy Star was for the "best of the best" that could meet stringent requirements.  Apparently, Energy Star had dragged the whole industry along in a positive direction.  Still, I asked sales associates which models were most energy-efficient for a given size class.  I heard what became a familiar refrain: "Don't worry they all cost less to operate now."  Still, in one store I noticed stickers on every display model that identified an annual cost for comparison purposes.  It then became obvious there is a lot a variation among major brands and models.  It also did not take long to realize that Samsung leads the pack in terms of energy usage.  We found a good LED/LCD Samsung with a 32-inch class that uses less energy than a 40 watt light bulb, about half of our old CRT set.

Still, Mr. Electricity himself, Michael Bluejay, advises in his Web site that television energy consumption is not the issue it used to be.  Most homes have other areas to look at first for those who want to reduce their carbon footprints... like the refrigerator, for example.

One last task.  It's easy to obsess over the tiny amount of mercury in CFL bulbs, but the old set is chock full of toxic materials.  With the new Illinois law banning the landfilling of electronics, we will take the old clunker to the Village of Glen Ellyn electronics collection on January 28.  For more information, see ttp://