Mayor wants more city homes to be energy efficient, starting with his own
By Judy Benson
September 29, 2016
New London — Mayor Michael Passero and his wife, Mary, learned some valuable lessons about their home on Thursday that will save them at least $240 in annual energy costs.
“My house is not as efficient as I thought it was,” Mayor Passero said, as crews from Upland Construction Group completed an energy assessment and energy efficiency alterations to the 54-year-old Admiral Drive home.
Mary Passero said she was surprised at all the leaky windows and doors the Uplands crews identified.
“I thought the house was more airtight than it is,” she said.
The Passeros’ “energy checkup,” as some call it, is part of a city initiative to encourage residents to take advantage of the Home Energy Solutions program, offered by the state-run Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund and Eversource, among other partners.
The assessments cost $124 for moderate- and upper-income residents, but are free to those with household incomes at 60 percent or below of the state’s median income. Both homeowners and renters are eligible.
For every resident who signs up for a checkup, the city earns points toward grants that can be used on energy-efficiency projects for municipal buildings, said Judi Cox, loan specialist for the Office of Development and Planning.
To promote the program, the city is sponsoring an event at the senior center on Oct. 22.
Mayor Passero said the initiative is part of overall efforts to make the city more energy efficient, including the replacement of incandescent streetlight bulbs with LED lights and a solar energy promotion program announced last week.
“I’d like to see every home in the city doing this,” the mayor said of the energy assessment.
During the assessment, Uplands crews used pressure and energy flow gauges to find air leaks at doors, windows and the attic, then sealed them with caulking, weather stripping and foam. They replaced inefficient incandescent bulbs with LED lights, and installed water-saving faucets and shower fixtures to save water and the energy used to heat it.
While crews made those changes on the spot, they also identified larger future projects to reduce wasted energy. To the Passeros’ surprise, the house lacks insulation in the walls, garage and much of the attic.
“If you follow through with putting in the insulation, you’ll save more than $1,000 a year on your energy bill,” said Barry Truszkowski, lead auditor for Uplands. He estimated that the insulation work could be done for $6,000 to $7,000, but emphasized that the Passeros could take advantage of various loan, rebate and federal tax credit programs to help pay for it.
The Passeros currently spend about $2,800 annually for their gas and electricity bills. Truszkowski calculated that just the changes made on Thursday will cut that by about $240.
Mitch Gross, spokesman for Eversource Connecticut, said that 170,000 Connecticut homes have had a Home Energy Solutions checkup since the program started in 2010. About 2,000 New London customers have taken advantage of the energy checkups or other Energize Connecticut programs. The average household saves about $250 per year on energy costs after the checkup, he said.