Karen Lewis of Brownwood has known for some time that her home needed work to make it more energy-efficient. But the demands of her job made that difficult to schedule, even though she had investigated a few weatherization plans in recent years.
“When they arrived at the front door and asked if I was interested in weatherization, I jumped at it,” Lewis said Thursday as a team of professional contractors worked throughout her house in the 4300 block of Brookdale on Thursday.
Her home represents the first house chosen statewide for a “weatherization event” designed to kick off the new “Take a Load Off, Texas” campaign by Oncor Electric Delivery, Carol Peters, Oncor media relations representative from Dallas, said. The project here as well as in two in the Midland-Odessa and Sherman areas will help draw attention to a mobile exhibit designed to teach Texans about energy efficiency.
The two-hour “Take a Load Off, Texas” tour van and mobile exhibit will be open to the public from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, at the parking lot of Weakley-Watson True Value Hardware, at the corner of Austin and Coggin avenues.
“I thought it was too good to be true,” Lewis said. “I had heard about weatherization programs before, and this is what I needed.”
Oncor-participating contractors spent most of Thursday installing insulation, weather-stripping and other energy-efficiency measures in Lewis’ home after she was approved under specific weatherization program guidelines, Peters said. Lewis’ home was one of several in the area considered for the project, and improvements were performed at no cost.
Not every resident of the Oncor service area is eligible for cost-free services, but the “Take a Load Off, Texas” program includes numerous opportunities for consumers to save significantly on weatherization-related improvements, and then reduce their electricity consumption in years to come.
Information about available programs is available by calling toll-free (866) 728-3674, or from the Web site www.oncor.com/efficiency.
“The first step is the assessment, and information on that is available either from the telephone number or the Web site,” Peters said. “The work can include weather-stripping, caulking of plumbing penetrations and sealing of ducts, as well as leakage from door frames.”
Oncor will verify that kilowatt-hour savings have been experienced, Peters said.
“It’s available to renters as well as homeowners,” Lewis said. “They even have programs for new homes.”
Lewis said she has rented her house for seven years, but it wasn’t until she started staying home all day because of her health that she realized how energy-inefficient the house is.
“I could stand at the door to the garage and just feel the hot air blowing in during the summer,” Lewis said.
“We have different programs for renters,” Paul Bennett, Oncor area manager in Brownwood, said. “People just need to talk to a program manager and find out what program fits their situation.”
During an air leak test performed by D&A Conservation at her home Thursday, a breeze could be felt from outside doors and from electrical outlets on walls. But the most dramatic loss was being experienced in the duct system of her air-conditioning and heating unit.
Contractors identified a 37 percent air loss in the duct system, and a 24 percent air infiltration overall in the house, Dave Work of D & A Conservation said.
“The duct system is where a lot of air loss is found in most homes,” Work said. “That 37 percent is about typical of most homes of this age, but when we’re finished, it will be below 10 percent, for both the ducts and the entire house.”
One of the biggest — and hottest — jobs Thursday involved adding insulation above the house’s ceiling. Contractors boosted the existing R8 rated insulation to the R30 minimum now recommended. Work said the installation will add a few additional inches beyond the R30 recommendation, to allow for settling.
Another energy-saving step will be replacing the 60-watt incandescent light bulbs Lewis has been using with new 14-watt compact florescent lamps.
“They not only use less energy, but they generate less heat that can heat up the room,” Bennett said.
Sample bulbs will be available at the two-hour demonstration Sept. 29, Oncor officials said.
“We’re just happy to be able to kick off this program in Brownwood,” Bennett said. “Anyone who lives in the Oncor service region is eligible.”
Oncor is the regulated utility that provides electricity over existing poles and wires in the Brownwood area. Its representatives along with energy efficiency service providers who participate in Oncor incentive programs will be on hand at the Sept. 29 event at the Weakley-Watson parking lot.
“Look for the yellow van,” Bennett said.