Homeowners’ Classroom Opens

woman%20and%20green%20roof.jpgSandy Methot checked out the plants on a green roof, as visitors got a first-hand look at how to save money and energy by fixing up their homes.

Sandy Mehot (pictured) was one of a hundred people to take a walk through Neighborhood Housing Services’s new Home Improvement and Energy Conservation Laboratory at a ceremony Tuesday night. The lab just opened on Hudson Street, directly behind the NHS offices on Sherman Avenue.

NHS Executive Director James Paley said the center will showcase energy savings throughout the house, from the basement to the roof. He expects it will be awarded LEED certification for outstanding energy efficiency. The lab is designed to teach homeowners skills to help them through a tough economy.

“Anyone can come in and learn to do things for themselves, in terms of saving energy and basic maintenance things,” he said, “like changing locks on a door, replacing cracked panes of glass, insulating a hot water tank, replacing a shingle on a roof. And it’s no secret that we have a lot of people who are in trouble with their mortgages, falling behind, having a tough time making ends meet.”

jim%20paley2.jpg“If this recession deepens, people will find their real wages declining, they may be out of work or have their hours cut back,” added Paley (pictured). It’s important for people to save money whenever they can so they have enough to make their mortgage payments. And that’s what we want to be able to do – to help people respect the environment, conserve energy and also save money so they can have the house be more affordable for them.”

Click here for a previous story and see some “before” photos of the center.

The center is open not just to homeowners who come through NHS, but to anyone who visits the beautifully restored building. In an effort to increase the financial literacy of NHS clients, they must first complete financial management and budget classes before they can take classes in the lab. Paley said classes should be up and running within a few months.

joe%20dirisi.jpgJoe DiRisi (pictured) helped broker a deal to bring in cabinets in one of the rooms in the house. He runs a Hamden business called Urbanminers, LLC, which extends the life of building supplies through recycling and reuse. He said the cabinets came out of a house that was being remodeled.

The green roof was a very popular spot during the grand opening. Methot (pictured at the top of this story), who volunteers with NHS along with her husband, said the couple is interested in putting a green roof on a project of their own. The small plants will grow and provide a complete covering that will help insulate the building, keeping it cooler in summer and warmer in winter, and absorb the first rush of rainwater to prevent it from washing into the storm drains. The photovoltaic panels will generate solar energy; the white roof will deflect heat in the summer, and the green (non-living) portion of the roof is made from recycled rubber, including old tires (which some environmental health advocates have flagged as potentially carcinogenic).

glass%20blocks%20and%20plant.jpgSigns all over the building pointed out its energy efficient components, like these glass blocks set into the south wall, which contribute to day lighting of the interior.

man%20with%20co-gen%20heater.jpgTony Petrucelli (pictured), who works for Climate Energy, installed the combined heat and power – or co-generation – system in the basement. It captures the heat and recirculates it in the building. He said it’s 90 percent efficient in using natural gas as a source of heat.

“We could potentially generate $1,200 a year of worth of electrical savings,” he added. “Some of that electricity will be used in the house, and if there’s excess generation, it will go back onto the grid and the grid will act as a battery for us, saving it until we need it – it’ll basically run the meter backwards.”

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posted by: robn on October 22, 2008  9:19am

The best 30 bucks I ever spent was on a digital programmable thermostat. When I go to sleep, the heat turns down, when I wake up the heat turns up, when I go to work the heat turns down, etc…. it was really easy to install.