Cut Carbon at Home! Test HEET’s DIY efficiency book

heet2Activity: Cut Carbon at Home! Test HEET’s DIY efficiency book
Sponsor: HEET
April 20-28, 2013
Location: Home or Dorm
Points: 20 (for completion of 2 activities)

Cambridge’s hands-on energy efficiency nonprofit, the Home Energy Efficiency Team (HEET) has just finished putting all of its members’ knowledge into The Honest Book of Home Energy Savings: Guide for New England. We want to give MIT Earth Day Challenge participants a first look, and a chance to try it out! Below is a list of activities covered in the book; some of the projects are as easy as switching a computer setting, but can be as complex as insulating an attic.

How to complete activity:
Email to request any two activities you’d like to try, and we’ll deliver those two chapters to you in PDF form. Use our plain English instructions to perform the two tasks; be sure to document with photos as you go. Submit a short description of your projects and your photos to by Sunday, April 28th, and we’ll reward the 3 best entries with a free copy of the entire book! At the end we’ll pool everyone’s photos into an online album to share your accomplishments with the world.

Dorm-Friendly Tasks

  • Your Electricity Price Scanner – learn to use a Kill A Watt meter (rent one from the Minuteman system).
  • Vampire Loads – slay your electric vampires with power strips or timers.
  • CFLs – change some old incandescent light bulbs out for Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs.
  • LEDs – change any variety of old incandescent light bulbs out for Light Emitting Diode lights (LEDs).
  • Fridge and Freezer – change your fridge or freezer temp to conserve energy (safely).
  • Computer Settings – change your computer’s power management settings.
  • Buy Efficient Appliances – buy an efficient appliance and dispose of your old one smartly.
  • Fans – cool off efficiently.
  • Air Conditioning – use AC efficiently.
  • Measure Water Flow – test out the rate of flow of your faucets or shower heads.
  • Other Water Leaks – get a professional to take care of a water leak.
  • Close and latch your windows – exactly what it sounds like.

Renter-Friendly Tasks (in addition to the above)

  • Set Your Furnace Fan – flip a switch on your thermostat to keep your furnace fan from running all year.
  • Old Fridges or Freezers – recycle an old fridge or freezer, possibly replace with new Energy Star model.
  • Toilet Tank Banks – use this fillable water bag to displace space in your toilet’s tank to reduce flow.
  • Faucet Aerators – change the fixtures at the end of your sinks for lower flow options.
    Showerheads – replace your showerhead for an updated efficient one.
  • Toilet Leaks – check if your toilet is leaking and if so, replace the flapper in the tank.
  • Lawn and Garden – plant native plants, and water efficiently with a rain barrel and soaker hose.
  • Program Your Thermostat – use an already-installed programmable thermostat’s settings to save.
  • Sagging Upper Sashes – prop up your upper window sash that keeps sagging, or replace the balance of the window.
  • Window Latches – install a new latch on your window to keep it sealed shut.
  • Caulking subtly fill in cracks around windows and doors to prevent superfluous air flow.
  • Windows That Rattle in the Wind – install a small v-shaped plastic strip inside the slot your window slides in.
  • Interior Storm Windows – try a variety of extra (clear) layers to keep your windows sealed tight in the winter.
  • Electric Outlets and Light Switch Gaskets  - insert little sheets of foam behind these to block air-flow.
  • Drywall Holes – patch holes in your wall, from tiny to large (a non-toothpaste method).
  • Fireplaces – manage your fireplace efficiently all year round.

Homeowner-Friendly Tasks (in addition to the above)

  • Humidifier and Dehumidifier – get rid of yours by air-sealing in and managing water flow around your home.
  • Security Lights – install an efficient motion detector fixture for your security lights.
  • Saving Heat – do calculations to separate your heating fuel costs from other year-round fuel use.
  • Choosing Your Heating Fuel – use our comparison calculator and information provided to choose the best heating fuel for you.
  • Installing a Programmable Thermostat – remove your old thermostat and install one you can program.
  • Furnace Filters – change your furnace filter if it’s too dirty, and find out the efficient level of dirty.
  • Sealing Ducts – seal up all of the ducts moving forced hot air between your living space and furnace.
  • Water Temperature – make sure your water heater’s temperature is set to an efficient level.
  • Insulating Pipes – insulate the pipes in your home that may be losing heat.
  • Windows – learn the real efficiency (not) gained from replacing your windows, and calculate it.
  • Repairing Wood Windows – hire a professional to restore your home’s wooden windows.
  • Weatherizing a Door – apply a gasket around the door frame and a door-sweep strip at the bottom.
  • Basement Holes – fill holes in your foundation.
  • Repairing Masonry – fix masonry in your home with mortar.
  • Spray foam – use spray foam to seal gaps in your basement (or other gaps).
  • Air-sealing the sill-plate/band-joist area – use a variety of materials to seal off where your foundation meets your house in your basement.
  • Problems in the Attic – identify the symptoms of heat leaking out your roof as shown by snow & ice.
  • Inspecting Your Attic – inspect your attic with our guidance, or have a professional do so.
  • Big Numbers – seal big holes in your attic floor/top floor ceiling barrier, or have a professional do so.
  • Pipe Stacks – identify and seal around these specific big holes in your attic.
  • Knee Walls – insulate your attic’s knee walls, or have a professional do so.
  • Chimneys – seal safely the several inch wide air gap left around your chimney.
  •  Whole House Fans – seal around your whole house fan for the off-season, in your home or in your attic.
  • Attic Hatches and Ladders – insulate your attic hatches and ladders.
  • Recessed Lights – insulate around your recessed lights in the attic, or install special light cans.
  • Attic Insulation – choose and apply the right attic insulation.
  • Wall Insulation – choose and apply (contract) the proper wall insulation.
  • How to Find a Great Contractor – do it.
  • Rebates, Tax Credits, Services – use them.
  • How to Monitor Energy Bills – sign up for WegoWise or some other energy bill monitoring service.

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