Last month we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, and although the celebrations might be over, there are still plenty of ways to help the earth every single day. We often hear about what municipalities and businesses can do to make a positive impact on the environment, but did you know that homeowners can do just as much, if not more, on their own terms? From water conservation practices, to proper waste management -Chester County encourages all residents to recognize the importance of keeping our environment safe through proper sustainability methods at home.
There have been many real-world success stories proving that quality of life can be preserved in Chester County while using less energy, spending less money, and protecting our environment – and there are many low-cost ways for residents to do so.
Homeowners Judy and Denis Nicholson Asselin, of Cheyney PA, have spent the last 35 years lowering their energy and water use in order to create a 100% renewable energy home, which now saves them an enormous amount of money each year. In fall of 2019, the Nicholson Asselin’s featured a “Solar Tour,” where they invited guests to come into their home to see the different ways they’ve successfully lowered energy and water use over the years. Some of the steps they’ve taken include: creating a passive solar home design with thicker walls and ceiling insulation; installing solar panels on their roof (providing about 40% of the power for their home); purchasing wind energy credits for additional use; using LED lighting; driving the Chevy Bolt (a fully electric vehicle); collecting storm water runoff for the garden; drying clothes on a clothes line; and using a front load washing machine; among many other things.
The chart below features the typical energy use of a home:
Additionally, the Nicholson Asselin’s had a PECO Energy Audit and Blower Test done in their home, which is an excellent resource and step to help determine ways to start saving energy. During the Nicholson Asselin’s Energy Audit, the auditor found air leaks in their attic (which have since been sealed), and provided them with low-flow shower heads to save additional hot water. Prior to this, the Nicholson Asselin’s installed a hybrid hot water heater, which consists of a heat pump paired with conventional coil heating and saves them about $350 per year. Upon purchasing the water heater, they received a $350 rebate from PECO, and the unit was on sale, making the total investment less than what a new conventional water heating system would cost. They also use a high efficiency electric heat pump to heat and cool their house, which has made a tremendous difference in their electricity use. Learn more about PECO Energy Audits and Rebates.
“The main thing I would hope to communicate to home owners is that this is not just the right thing to do for the environment, but it is also a terrific investment,” stated Judy Nicholson Asselin. “We have saved an enormous amount on utilities and our gasoline bill. But by far, the true pleasure we get from all of this is that it feels great to help society move towards sustainable living.”
Other than having to plan their long-distance car trips around where they can re-charge the battery in their electric car (which they look at as an adventure each time), the Nicholson Asselin’s say they have not had to sacrifice comfort or convenience while making the switch to 100% renewable energy. In fact, they hope to help inspire and spread the word about how easy, financially smart, and satisfying it is to be part of the solution!
See examples (for both municipalities and homeowners) and learn how to get started with our eTools.