Living Sustainably: Five Good Reasons to Borrow a Home Energy Monitoring Kit

LIVING SUSTAINABLY:  Five Good Reasons to Borrow a Home Energy Monitoring Kit

By Ashley Kimble, Holland Board of Public Works

Do you know how much the electricity is costing you for that second refrigerator in the basement that you use once a year for the Thanksgiving turkey? Or the hidden cost of the incandescent lightbulb you can’t seem to part with just because it hasn’t died yet?

Incandescent light bulbs, extra refrigerators, old appliances, extra humidity – all of these things can contribute to excess energy use in your home. Making simple yet effective changes can make a difference in your monthly energy bill.

But how do you find out what changes to make in order to save? Here’s the answer: Check out a Holland Board of Public Works Home Energy Monitoring Kit from the Herrick District Library.

 

Here are five reasons to check out a Home Energy Kit today.

1. Learn how much electricity your appliances and electronics are costing you.  The Home Energy Kit includes a watt meter. Simply plug the watt meter into an outlet and plug your appliance or other electronic device into the watt meter. The display will show an instant read of how much it costs to use this device. The meter is even programmed to Holland Board of Public Work’s rates.

2. Find out where heat is escaping from your home. The Home Energy Kit also comes with an infrared thermometer. Point and shoot the thermometer laser to measure the temperatures around doors, windows, vents, light switches and other openings. If you find an area with significant temperature difference compared to the rest of the room, odds are that area could benefit from air sealing or more insulation.

3. Measure the humidity in your home. Did you know humidity affects home energy usage? It requires the heating and cooling system to work longer to overcome the negative impact that too high or too low humidity has on the interior of your home. Keeping the humidity at 40 to 50 percent is the ideal condition for your comfort and the efficiency of your heating and cooling systems.

4. Learn about energy conservation with your family. Use the Home Energy Kit together as a family and seize it as a learning opportunity with your children. The kit includes information about ways to save and other resources provided by the Holland Board of Public Works.

5. It’s Free. That’s right, free. With your Herrick District Library card, you can check one of these kits out at no cost, just like a book. Simply ask at the information desk where the kits are located, grab one and it’s yours to use until the return date.

What are you waiting for? Head to Herrick District Library and start saving!

 Ashley Kimble is the customer communications specialist at the Holland Board of Public Works.

IMAGES: ENERGY KIT.jpg CUTLINE: The Home Energy Monitoring Kit, available for free loan at Holland District Library, will help homeowners cut energy use and save money. Photo: Ashley Kimble

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme:

Smart Energy: We need to use both conservation and efficiency measures to manage our resources to provide access to reliable and cost-effective energy.

 

ABOUT THIS SERIES

Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland, and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

Living Sustainably: Earth Hour-Little Things CAN Change the World

LIVING SUSTAINABLY:   Earth Hour-Little Things CAN Change the World

By Carolyn Ulstad, Holland Sustainability Committee

When I first heard about Earth Hour happening in cities like Paris, Singapore, Dubai and New York, I couldn’t help but start dreaming up what it could be like to bring it here to Holland.

For some background, Earth Hour started in 2007 as a lights-out event in Sydney, Australia. It has since grown to more than 170 countries and territories worldwide and has become one of the world’s largest grassroots movements for the environment. Every year households, businesses and iconic buildings in major cities turn off their lights for one hour to promote energy conservation, celebrate our night sky and raise awareness about how we impact our environment.

After a few conversations at our meetings and excited by the idea, the City of Holland’s Sustainability Committee decided to move forward in promoting Earth Hour to our community. This year, Earth Hour in Holland is taking place from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 25.

Our hope is to inspire you and your families to take the pledge to change your energy use for at least one hour.

A great way to get started is to think about what’s important to you.

I love Earth Hour because it’s completely customizable. If your concerns are about bees and pollinators, make it about that. If you care about light pollution or wildlife habitat, make those the focus. I myself will be participating for the first time and felt I should ask an Earth Hour veteran why he participates.

I spoke to Steven Bouma-Prediger, professor of religion at Hope College. Bouma-Prediger has been celebrating Earth Hour for the past four years and told me that he initially got involved “since it seemed like a creative and fun way to bring attention to energy use (and abuse) and highlight the issue of climate change, in a coordinated way with people from all over our home planet.”

That same potential for global collective power is what drew me to Earth Hour.

If you need some help getting started, visit the Earth Hour website for ideas. Consider actions like these: If you’re eating a late dinner, maybe sit by candle light. If you have little ones at home, get them involved by reading a bedtime story by flashlight. If you represent a business, school or church, encourage your members to take the pledge as well.

Go to https://goo.gl/QhJbY9 to sign up for the Earth Hour pledge.

If you are looking for something to do that afternoon, come join us at 3 p.m. Saturday in Graves Hall, 263 College Ave., on the Hope College campus for a free showing of the documentary “The City Dark,” which highlights the effects of light pollution.

A closing word from Bouma-Prediger is this African proverb: “Many little people in many little places doing many little things can change the world.”

 Carolyn Ulstad is a resident of Holland and sits on the Holland Community Sustainability Committee.

PHOTOS:

HOLLAND_NIGHTPHOTO: Earth Hour on Saturday, March 25, encourages Holland residents to turn off lights for an hour to raise awareness and celebrate the night sky. Courtesy photo – Go Dark Initiative

EARTHHOUR SPARKLE – Earth Hour is an international event bringing awareness to saving energy and celebrating the night sky, coming to Holland on Saturday, March 25. Courtesy photo – World Wildlife Fund

 

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme

Smart Energy: We need to use both conservation and efficiency measures to manage our resources to provide access to reliable and cost-effective energy.

 

ABOUT THIS SERIES

Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland, and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

February 2017 Sustainability News

February 27, 2017 – HOPE COLLEGE STUDENT’S RESEARCH ADDS FUEL TO FAST-FOOD DEBATE: Margaret Dickinson, spent two years at Hope testing hundreds of fast-food wrappers from several states in order to detect per- and polyfluoro alkyl substances (PFAS) in the packaging. Human-made with long environmental lifetimes, PFAS is toxic to humans and animals, and its bioaccumulation is troubling to scientists.

February 26, 2017 – HOPE COLLEGE MERGING MAJORS: This summer, senior Elizabeth Ensink, participated in one of the United States’ most competitive undergraduate creative writing fellowships, “Nature in Words.” The 10-week fellowship, based at Hastings, Michigan’s Pierce Cedar Creek Institute for environmental education, provided a unique opportunity for Ensink to merge the diverse academic interests that she’s been able to pursue at a high level at Hope, where she is majoring in both biology and English with a writing emphasis.

February 22, 2017 – My Take: The US values innovation — that’s why we need the EPA

February 21, 2017 – Holland: Becoming a more age-friendly community: forum discusses possibilities

February 21, 2017 – These 8 retailers are closing in Michigan in 2017 (so far) – plus 4 that are opening

February 20, 2017 – Living Sustainably:  Pop Quiz: Do you know your home place?

February 20, 2017 – GOING COAST TO COAST  Brian Kieft Hope College ’01 returned to the shores of Michigan from Monterey Bay Aquatic Research Institute to study water quality in the Great Lakes using an autonomous underwater submersible called Tethys.

February 20, 2017 – Nonprofit produces Women & the Environment Symposium

February 20, 2017 – Local First updates ‘impact’ assessment tool

February 18, 2017 – Herman Miller committed to environmental safety with honey bee program

February 18, 2017 – Ottawa County Patriots to host forum on climate issues

February 17, 2017 – New ‘dashboard’ will display West Michigan’s flaws and bright spots

February 17, 2017 – Global Pressures to Fix Climate Change Push Demand for Air Quality Control Systems

February 17, 2017 – Pruitt OK’d as EPA chief over environmentalists’ objections

February 17, 2017 – Teens May Go Hungry as Poorest Families Struggle to Feed Kids (Parents skip meals so children can eat, but youngest siblings get priority if there’s not enough food).     En Español

February 17, 2017 – LEED-Certified Venues Increase Savings, Decrease Operating Costs, Study Says

February 17, 2017 – Campus Carbon Emissions Drop, But May Be Under-Reported by 30%

February 17, 2017 – It takes a village

February 16, 2017 – Sustainability is Alive and Well – and Moving Forward

February 16, 2017 – Endangered Species Act Runs Headfirst into Mining Companies

February 16, 2017 – How Michigan is meeting the increasing demand for locally grown food

February 16, 2017 – My Take: Who needs the EPA? We do

February 16, 2017 – Holland Civic Center project costs $256K under budget so far

February 16, 2017 – How Digitalization Is Revolutionizing the Waste & Recycling Industry

February 16, 2017 – Here are Holland city council’s goals for the next fiscal year

February 16, 2017 – Trump Expected to Sign Executive Orders Curbing EPA’s Climate Cause

February 14, 2017 – West Michigan receiving $19.9M for nature projects

February 13, 2017 – Living Sustainably: Know your landscape for environmental engagement

February 13, 2017 – Walmart’s ‘Very Strong Business Case’ for Cutting Emissions

February 11, 2017 – Environmentalism is too widely misunderstood

February 10, 2017 – Become a master naturalist through MSU series

February 10, 2017 – House Committee Will Hear Ways to ‘Improve’ the Clean Air Act

February 9, 2017 – Project Clarity completes 6 Holland-area watershed projects

February 9, 2017 – State: Innovation needed to stop Asian carp

February 9, 2017 – Levi’s Is Radically Redefining Sustainability

February 7, 2017 – Letter: Holland Energy Park a terrific addition

February 8, 2017 – ‘Living street’ project in Zeeland moving forward

February 7, 2017 – Zeeland school benefits from early literacy donation

February 6, 2017 – HOPE COLLEGE’S JACK H. MILLER CENTER FOR MUSICAL ARTS EARNS LEED SILVER CERTIFICATION

February 6, 2017 – Living Sustainably: Working on Lake Mac’s reputation

February 6, 2017 – Shareholders to Amazon, McDonald’s, Target, Walmart: Phase Out Polystyrene Foam

February 5, 2017 – Powering Holland: Construction of new power plant nears completion

February 4, 2017 – New online tool gives current E. coli data

February 3, 2017 – ‘Greenwashing’ Costing Walmart $1 Million

February 3, 2017 – Local company delivering fresh groceries to your door

February 2, 2017 – ‘Orange bikes’: Group brainstorms how to bring bike sharing program to Holland

February 1, 2017 – Social Justice Awards and “I Have a Dream” Essay Winners

Living Sustainably: How Are We Creating a Sustainable Community?

LIVING SUSTAINABLY:  How Are We Creating a Sustainable Community?

By Brett Little and Michelle Gibbs

Great things are happening in Holland, and we want you to join in!

Many people are working hard to help Holland become a vibrant, world-class community, but for that to happen, it takes all of us working together and addressing all aspects of our community.  This includes the economic, social, and environmental impacts we all have.

On March 7 at City Hall we will explore how Holland is building a more resilient community. The evening will include refreshments, a program, awards and door prizes.

The event will present the programs and tools that are helping us see where we are and how we can best adapt to change with our Community Energy Plan.

Among the evening’s activities: The winners of the Holland Energy Prize Biggest Loser Challenge will talk about what they did to save energy.  In Holland, 118 households took part in the contest, and over half of them received Department of Energy Home Energy Scores.  (Learn more at www.homeenergyscore.gov)

Here are a few of the easy, do-it- yourself measures that winners implemented:

 Sealing air ducts,

 Insulating and air sealing basement ceiling/rim joists,

 Replacing old, inefficient bulbs with LED bulbs,

 Sealing holes in homes and caulking around windows,

 Using rigid foam boards or cellulose insulation in unfinished areas.

Learn more tips at the open house about how to make your home more efficient.

In addition, the open house will let you meet the pros who can help with low-financing options like Holland’s new Home Energy Retrofit and On-Billing Financing programs with the potential for thousands of dollars in rebates.  (Learn more at ww.hollandenergyfund.com/) 

Did you know that a majority of your wasted home energy is going through your floors, walls and ceilings? Most homes in Holland can see significant savings – as well as increased comfort and home health – by air sealing and insulation. People attending the Open House can sign up for a limited offer of a free Department of Energy Home Energy Score assessment of their house.

Finally, an RSVP is not required for the Open House, but those who do will be entered into additional drawings for more than $200 worth of door prizes. Go to www.Greenhomeinstitute.org/events to RSVP.

All of this work is helping the City of Holland reach the goals in the city’s 40 year Community Energy Plan, which aims to make our community a world-class leader in energy security, affordability, sustainability and efficiency.

 Brett Little is director of the Green Home Institute and organizer of the Holland Biggest Loser competition. Michelle Gibbs is director of the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute.

If You Go
What: Creating a Sustainable Community Open House
Who: Anyone interested in saving energy and learning about how to create a more sustainable community.
When: Tuesday, March 7. 6 p.m. reception with refreshments, and 6:30 p.m. program, awards, and door prizes.
Where: Holland City Hall, 270 S. River Ave.
Why: Join the effort to make Holland a vibrant, world-class community for all.

This Week’s Sustainability Framework Theme: Community Knowledge: The collective knowledge and energy of the community is an incredible resource that must be channeled to where it is needed.

 

Photos:

BULB IN HAND.JPG LED bulbs are one way that winners of Holland’s Biggest Losers cut energy use.

HOME ENERGY ASSESSMENT.JPG Free Home Energy Score assessments will be available to people who attend the Sustainable Community Open House on March 7.

ABOUT THIS SERIES: Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland, and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

January 2017 Sustainability News

January 30, 2017 – Living Sustainably: We can see more stars in Holland

January 30, 2017 – Why 98% of Companies Do Not Achieve Their Sustainability Goals

January 30, 2017 – BP Advocates for Putting a Price on Carbon

January 30, 2017 – How to Reduce Corporate Food Waste? There’s an Online Hub for That

January 27, 2017 – Affordable housing, LGBT ordinance among goals discussed by Holland city council

January 23, 2017 – “GREAT DECISIONS” SERIES TO ADDRESS TOPICS OF GLOBAL IMPORTANCE

January 23, 2017 – Kids’ Food Basket adds Jefferson K-7 to Sack Supper program

January 23, 2017 – EV Charging Stations Increasingly Common

January 23, 2017 – Leaks: Trump Budget to Demolish DOE Programs

January 23, 2017 – Perry Signals Support for Energy Codes

January 22, 2017 – Living Sustainably: Cultivating a sustainable community

January 18, 2017 – EPA pick disagrees with Trump, says climate change isn’t hoax

January 18, 2017 – North Ottawa Dunes land swap finalized

January 17, 2017 – Consumers will pay more money for “sustainable” products

January 17, 2017 – Herman Miller receives WorldatWork 2017 Seal of Distinction

January 17, 2017 – Groups to begin making social justice changes in Holland

January 16, 2017 – Need identified for affordable housing in Ottawa County

January 15, 2017 – Ottawa, Allegan receive grant to battle invasive species

January 12, 2017 – Home Help: 5 tips to keep your home warm, cozy and protected this winter

January 11, 2017 – This bumble bee was everywhere. Now it’s on the endangered species list.

January 11, 2017 – Holland’s South Shore Drive to see on-street bike lanes

January 10, 2017 – Dale Wyngarden: Bike lanes need to adhere to standards

January 6, 2017 – How one company eliminated food waste: The ‘landfill can no longer be an option.’

January 6, 2017 – Cyclists gather to ride, eat, drink together at Sunday’s Frigid Frondo

January 5, 2017 – GVSU’s Sustainability Impact Totals $250 Million

January 4, 2017 – As from 1 January 2017 100% of Dutch trains are powered by wind energy.  The Dutch railways company NS is the world’s first railway company that gets 100% of its energy from wind turbines.

January 3, 2017 – Allegan, Ottawa United Way partnership brings regional service

January 3, 2017 – Holland Sentinel Guest Editorial: Think inside the box: Shipping donated items to Goodwill made simple

January 3, 2017 – Gardening trends for 2017

January 1, 2017 – 2016 Holland Annual Report  What a year it was! Expanded snowmelt, LED lights, Home Energy Retrofit Program, Record High Voter Registrations and much more. Take a look inside Holland’s 2016 Annual Report.

We Can See More Stars in Holland

LIVING SUSTAINABLY:  We Can See More Stars in Holland

By Paul Lilly and Michelle Gibbs
Living Sustainably Committee

“Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder what you are, up above the world so high, like a diamond in the sky….”

Our fascination with the night sky starts at a young age, and many of us can think back to a time when we were in a remote area – perhaps on a snipe hunt or camping trip – and, gazing upward, we were able to witness the splendor of the Milky Way and were amazed by how many stars we could see.  Perhaps we even tried to count them, imagined ourselves flying amongst them, or were lucky enough to see a shooting star!

Unfortunately, many people today have not been able to have this moving and memorable experience.  With urbanization and expansion of street lights, parking lot lights, and security lighting, it is getting harder to see the stars. With less free time and more emphasis on screen-based technologies, we forget about taking time out to seek a place free of light pollution to view the night sky.

Our environment is often flooded with omni-directional lighting that can be seen from blocks or miles away – even from space. This light effectively blocks views of the night sky for entire communities. Lighting that is dark-sky friendly is designed to reverse this trend by using more focused, site-specific illumination, which in turn allows clearer views of the moon and constellations.

“Excessive lighting is unnecessarily costly and wasteful, when more targeted illumination is more efficient,” said Anne Saliers, community energy services manager at the Holland Board of Public Works (HBPW).

To encourage business customers to consider dark sky-approved lighting, the HBPW offers a 10 percent bonus on its rebates for exterior lighting.  According to Pete Strasser of the International Dark-Sky Association, the HBPW is the first entity to offer rebates for dark-sky friendly fixtures.

To learn more about dark sky efforts and reconnect with the stars, join us for the program “Where is Our Starry Night?” at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7 at the Herrick District Library. Admission is free, and a door prize raffle will feature a 2017 Family Membership to the Outdoor Discovery Center.

The program is part of the Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore series that seeks to educate and empower Holland area residents to live more sustainably.  The series is sponsored by the City of Holland, GreenMichigan.org, Herrick District Library, Hope College, League of Women Voters, Meijer Campus of Grand Valley State University, and the West Michigan Environmental Action Council.

In September, the Living Sustainably group received the “2016 Top Project Award” from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality’s Neighborhood Environmental Partners Program. The advocacy group was recognized for its 2015 educational series and for collaborating with 50 local partners on behalf of sustainability education.  The announcement was made at the First Annual Michigan Sustainability Conference, held in Grand Rapids.  Follow us on Facebook.

  • Paul Lilly and Michelle Gibbs are members of the Holland-based Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore Committee.

Three Things to Know about Dark Skies

  1. Light pollution is costly in both economic and environmental terms.
  2. We can enjoy the nighttime sky without compromising our sense of safety.
  3. Holland can reduce its energy costs and carbon footprint in line with its vision for a more energy-efficient future.

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Cutline: This NASA image shows the glow seen in space from lighted areas on Earth.

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ABOUT THIS SERIES  

Living Sustainably is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland, and Holland Board of Public Works. Go to www.hope.edu/sustainability-institute for more information.

 

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If You Go

What: “Where is our Starry Night?”
Who: Free to everyone, sponsored by Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore
When: 6:30-8:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 7
Where: Herrick District Library, 300 S. River, Holland

 

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Smart Energy: We need to use both conservation and efficiency measures to manage our resources to provide access to reliable and cost-effective energy.

Involving All of Us in So Many Ways

LIVING SUSTAINABLY:

Involving All of Us in So Many Ways

By Michelle Gibbs
Director, Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute

Welcome to the new Living Sustainably series!

This weekly column is sponsored by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute as a way to keep our community informed and engaged in all of the great work in sustainability that is happening around the greater Holland area.  

You may be asking yourself, what really is “sustainability?”  The term sustainability has been defined in many ways, but the most commonly referenced definition comes from the Brundtland Commission’s Report Our Common Future which states “sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”  This weekly column is aimed at showing how issues of sustainability are actually at play in so many areas of our lives.  

Each week, guest authors will share information about events or work they are involved in as it relates to seven categories. These categories make up our “Sustainability Framework,” which demonstrates the many ways in which sustainability awareness can improve our community’s future. They are:  

  • Smart Energy 
  • Economic Development
  • Transportation
  • Community & Neighborhood
  • Quality of Life
  • Community Knowledge
  • Environmental Action & Awareness


Our City of Holland Sustainability Committee has created this seven-pillar Sustainability Framework with “lenses” to help us evaluate and make more sustainable choices. We are using this framework as a way to share information about our journey to become a more sustainable community. Each week’s column will look at an issue through one of these lenses.

The city’s vision statement says Holland is “a vibrant, world-class community in a beautiful lakefront environment where people work together, celebrate community, and realize dreams.” We believe for that to be true, we must look at all aspects of our community – including the economic, social, and environmental impacts we all have.  In doing that, we are working hard to ensure that Holland is a great place to live, work, and play for generations to come.

The Sustainability Institute is entering our third year of partnership between Hope College, the City of Holland, and Holland Board of Public Works. The purpose of the Institute is to support efforts to encourage, engage, educate, and drive sustainable culture in water and air quality, energy efficiency, land use, and environmental innovation.

Our vision is a healthy and economically vibrant community that promotes environmental stewardship and mutual respect for people and the planet.  Our mission is to foster collaborative efforts to infuse sustainability into the minds and practices of the greater Holland community.  

We invite anyone and everyone in the community to join in. Check out the new community sustainability dashboard at www.hollandsustainabilityreport.org to see dozens of metrics in all seven framework areas. You can also follow us on Facebook by liking the group “Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore.”

 

We hope you will enjoy this new series and that it encourages you to join us on this journey to become a more sustainable community.  

ABOUT THIS SERIES  

Living Sustainably:  is a collection of community voices sharing updates about local sustainability initiatives. It is presented by the Holland-Hope College Sustainability Institute, a joint project of Hope College, the City of Holland, and Holland Board of Public Works. See more at hope.edu/sustainability-institute