Saving energy keeps out the cold

Saturday, September 27, 2014
Courtesy: 
Waterbury Republican-American
Waterbury, CT

To heat the first floor of her apartment to a temperature above 60 degrees, Denise Clark must set the thermostat to 80 degrees or higher in the winter months.

Over the past five years, cold air has consistently seeped into the first floor through fissures in the basement ceiling, gaps between the walls and the windows and holes in the door frames.

"In the winter, the floors are ice cold and the windows are so drafty that you can see the curtains move," she said. "But the second floor is like a sauna."

Those may be problems of the past, though. Clark, who lives with her two young children in a federally-subsidized housing complex on Lewis Circle, was one of 80 residents in 32 units who received free assistance from the state's Energy Efficiency Project.

Workers from the nonprofit organization New Opportunities in Waterbury conducted an energy audit at her home Tuesday and found several areas where cold air was getting into her apartment. They weatherized the interior and exterior and the basement, and they air-sealed windows, doors and large spaces throughout the apartment.

They added caulk in the cracks of the basement ceiling beneath the kitchen and living room floors, they sprayed foam in the door frames where cold air had been coming through for years and they added insulation in the attic and basement.

They also added new compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) bulbs and light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs to her light fixtures to save money on electricity. And they installed low-flow shower heads and faucets to reduce water waste.

The projected savings between electrical and natural gas is about $575 a year. The Naugatuck Housing Authority, which oversees the Lewis Circle complex, received a grant for the energy project upgrades from Energize Connecticut, which is administered by Connecticut Light & Power and Yankee Gas and is available to the general public for a $99 charge. CL&P and Yankee Gas customers subsidize the program through their bills.

"The residents here will not only save money, but they will be more comfortable throughout the winter," said Enoch Lenge, the energy efficiency spokesman for CL&P and Yankee Gas.

Naugatuck Housing Authority Executive Director Christine Warren said residents are excited and thankful for the help they are receiving.

Clark said she is certainly thankful.

"Maybe we won't freeze this winter," she said. "I will definitely notice the difference in the bills."

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