Mayor Gets New Showerheads
by Gwyneth K. Shaw | Jun 10, 2011 11:00 am
Posted to: City Hall, Environment
Mayor John DeStefano has taken several steps to improve the energy efficiency of his home, including installing new windows and programmable thermostats. Still, home efficiency expert John Greeno said, the 1960 home on Judwin Avenue could use some tweaks.
On Thursday Greeno and his crew replaced light bulbs, added water-saving showerheads and sealed off some cracks around the attic and bathroom exhaust fans.
They left the vintage 1980s upright freezer in the basement alone, though.
“It is an energy hog,” said Greeno (pictured), owner of New England Conservation Services.
Greeno was at DeStefano’s house for a home energy audit, looking for ways to save the mayor money—and help the planet in the process. Anyone in New Haven can get the same service for free this summer as part of the city’s Green and Healthy Homes Initiative.
The audit usually costs $75, but a U.S. Department of Energy grant is paying the bill for New Haven audits this year, on a first-come, first served basis. More than 500 homeowners have signed up, and 1,000 slots remain, city officials said. The program’s other partners are the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund and United Illuminating.
DeStefano, casually dressed in a white T-shirt, shorts and flip-flops on one of the hottest days of the year so far, said he signed up for the audit, which takes two to four hours, the same way his constituents can: through the website of the city’s sustainability office. (Those without web access should call 203-946-2323 to sign up.)
“It’s crazy not to do it,” he said, as he sat at his dining room table. “You’ll save money, and that’s smart for family budgets and smart for the environment.”
Greeno said DeStefano’s house was already “fairly tight” when the crew arrived. After closing all the doors and windows, Greeno and his workers performed a blower-door test, in which the open front door is sealed with a plastic sheath. At the bottom is a powerful fan. Instruments check the flow of air through the closed house, which indicates how much air is moving in and out.
Leaks represent lost energy—heat in the winter, cool air in the summer—and wasted cash.
The first time the test was run, roughly 2,800 cubic feet of air moved around, said Matt Kavanaugh (pictured), an inspection technician with Greeno’s company. That’s not bad for a house this age, he said, but there’s always room for improvement.
After some of the cracks were sealed—including around an attic fan and a bathroom vent—the blower test was run a second time. The air flow had dropped roughly 20 percent. That will translate into savings for DeStefano, Greeno said.
“There should be a corresponding reduction in energy costs, but it’s hard to put a number on it,” he said.
The audit typically looks at ductwork for heating and cooling systems, as well as plumbing pipes, all of which are a common source of energy loss. There’s also a look at a home’s appliances—like the upright freezer—to find older models that suck up energy. Heating, cooling and hot-water systems come in for inspection, too, as does a home’s insulation.
The auditors also offer homeowners advice about how to take advantage of any rebates, incentives or tax credits on money- and energy-saving improvements. In addition, thanks to a partnership with the Yale Community Carbon Fund, low-income residents can get a free programmable thermostat, to help save more on energy.
Kavanaugh declared DeStefano’s oil-fired boiler to be relatively new. It’s Energy Star certified and about 84 percent efficient. Today’s natural gas-powered models are more efficient, but not everyone wants to do the conversion, he said.
In the long term, Kavanaugh suggested, DeStefano should consider putting a cap on the attic fan during the wintertime to keep hot air from escaping.
Greeno said insulation is a big issue as well, especially in New Haven’s older houses.
“We do see a lot of homes still without insulation in the walls,” he said.
Christina Eppstein Tang, director of the city’s sustainability office, said you don’t have to own your home—or apartment or townhouse—to apply for the audit. However if you rent, you will need the owner’s permission.
Contractors like Greeno handle the work, and schedule an appointment to evaluate a home, lightbulbs and door flashing in tow. They can also advise residents about government rebates and other incentives on appliances, windows and other elements that could help improve a home’s energy efficiency.
DeStefano (pictured in his basement) said he replaced his old windows a few years ago, to take advantage of a federal tax credit. More recently, he said he saw a huge drop in his oil bill over this past winter, because he installed programmable thermostats in the house.
The gauges, which allow residents to precisely set temperatures during different times of the day, saved him 250 gallons of oil over the heating season.
At $4 a gallon, “that’s a thousand bucks,” DeStefano said.
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Mayor D and The Dude ...seperated at birth?
Enough already!! john DeStefano chose to forego public funding for his re-election campaign and it is now VERY APPARENT that he doesn’t need public financing ... as long as the NHI and Reg keep pumping out this drivel. If he is running an image campaign, at least make him use his own money on it. I can understand the Reg being complicit in his shenanigans…but come on now, Paul. You know better.
posted by: stopthecampaignstunts on June 11, 2011 7:50pm
I have noticed an ongoing campaign through NHI for the mayor. It is amazing how he can manipulate every press entity he wishes to do so with. I like the article and the information, but why can’t a story be done on this without the mayor’s mug and personal touches all over it? None of this is cute anymore. He has the register tied up because (in my opinion) one of the editor’s wife works in corp.council’s office and now the NHI probably has to jump on board to get equal stories. Paul, there are plenty of folks who will share tips with you to get good stories. The mayor shouldn’t be allowed to control the press, but truthfully if that isn’t happening it has been looking that way for quite awhile now. I am ready to jump in the race just to distract the press from making this a one man show here. Or would it still remain that way no matter what someone does? Now in all fairness, I will say the other two candidates aren’t doing anything real exciting and it is difficult when there is an incumbent in for this long. But I still say that this stuff is over the top for the mayor. Sorry Paul,just saying.
Anyone check if he took vacation time to get his house fixed when he should have been at work? Also note his me first approach. I’ll get my freebie first before the citizens can. Wonderful to see great leadership prevails in New Haven
WAGS look for scandal elsewhere..the mayor knows that our homes consume a significant part of our energy resources and he wants to encourage us to take advantage of a free audit program.
John Greeno will be hit up for a fat campaign contribution.
... This is stimulus money that should have been spent ever since. It first came on line in 2009. City Hall staffers were too lazy to use it. It was meant to help poor people with badly insulated homes. They were paying too high utilitys. They didn’t get the money. They are still paying too high for there utilitys.
Six months back Johhny’s boys came round city hall whispering to the favored few. This money was there for them. Just like the old days ...
I just pray the Advocate or Register or NHI do an investigation. They should use FOI to get the names of the 500 who already have government money. ...
This is how New Haven works. The FBI said it was okay in 1999 when they let off all the porkers. I hope someone in Washington wakes up. He sure ain’t going to get my vote in 2012.
WOW there is apparently enough conspiracy here to write a Dan Brown novel.
This is good stuff plain and simple. Also, when 2/3 of the slots are still empty, you have to publicize it more. That’s exactly what the mayor is doing and likely they will get more people involved in the program.
Thanks for the story Paul.