This month’s Go Green Northbrook Green Moment focuses on actions that individual home owners can take to make Northbrook a healthier, greener, more energy efficient community.

One action residents can take is to call ComEd for a free energy assessment on their homes.  Single-family homes, two flats, condos and townhomes are all eligible.  Even renters can make use of this assessment if they have permission from their landlord.  An energy advisor will walk through the home, create a report to advise ways to save energy, and even install energy saving products in the home, many of them for free; others are highly discounted.  Some available products are smart thermostats, halogen light bulbs, programmable thermostats, energy efficient showerheads and faucet aerators, hot water pipe insulation, and power strips.  This is an excellent opportunity for residents to save money and save energy.

An additional energy audit on a residential home can be performed with a blower door test.  This is a diagnostic tool to measure the airtightness of a home.  A national data base estimates that 20% to 30% of a home’s energy usage is lost to leakage.  Most commonly, leakage occurs around doors and windows, electrical receptacles, attics and ductwork, and fireplaces.  The blower door test fits a powerful calibrated fan into an adjustable door frame sealed into the exterior doorway of the home. It then measures the flow of air and air pressure throughout the home.  The test should be performed by a certified energy auditor.  Many companies offer this service for a fee; others offer a complementary test but advocate that the consumer use their company to make the recommended repairs.

A more dramatic action, but one that has a major impact, is for a resident to “go solar.”  Unfortunately, not all homes qualify; installing companies will look for a mild slope on a newer roof facing south not shaded by trees.  Leasing is an option for residents who do not want to front the investment but do want to reap immediate lower electric rates.  However, this is an ideal time to purchase solar panels, as there are currently generous rebates and tax refunds.  There are many providers willing to come and assess the viability of solar panels for your residence.  Actually, I, personally, had my solar panels installed recently.  Take advantage of long-term savings on your electric bill and help the village of Northbrook reduce its carbon footprint.

  We hope each and every one reading this will take advantage of one or more of these suggestions to save money and save energy.