Living Sustainably: Energy seminar focuses on comfort, health, savings

By Andrea Goodell, Herrick District Library
Image result for lower the thermostatMaking your home more comfortable, healthy and cost-effective doesn’t have to break the bank.  Everyone knows the No. 1 tip: Lower your thermostat a couple of degrees in winter and raise it a couple of degrees in summer. (You won’t notice the difference, but you’ll notice the savings.)
There are dozens of no- or low-cost ways to save energy and money. Here are a few:
 Foam gaskets for electrical outlets can lower your energy bill quickly, Holland Residential Energy Advisor Ken Freestone said. Seal leaks around doors and windows, too.
 Fans are an economical way of cooling off or circulating air, but they don’t make the room itself cooler, so they should be turned off when no one is there to enjoy them. Ceiling fans should blow down in the summer to cool and up in the winter to circulate air.
 Holland Board of Public Works customers can receive free LED bulbs at one of its giveaways. The next one is Oct. 12; check the BPW’s Facebook page for details. The BPWalso offers rebates for LEDs, energy efficient appliances and other energy-saving purchases (
 Spending a little more for a programmable or smart thermostat will help control energy use.
 Change furnace filters every month and get a tune-up at least once a year. Preventative maintenance is much cheaper than repairs. It also keeps your furnace running efficiently, lowering monthly heating bills. SEMCO offers a $50 rebate for boiler or furnace tune-ups.
 Check out a free energy evaluation kit from Herrick District Library or Van Wylen Library. Each kit contains simple technology and instructions to measure your home’s humidity and energy usage and an infrared thermometer to find energy leaks.
However, these efforts are about more than just saving energy, Freestone said. “It is about making homes healthier, safer and more comfortable – and about saving energy, too.”
Learn more about doing all that at Living Sustainably Along the Lakeshore’s next event, “Comfort, Health, and Savings: Smart Energy at Home.” It begins 6 p.m. Oct. 9 at the Holland Energy Park with an expo, with the program at 6:30.
Space is limited so registration at is required.
Also at the event, Freestone will outline a grant program and financing options from the city and BPW for help with bigger energy retrofit projects, as well as low-interest financing available to anyone in Michigan.
Self-guided tours of the Energy Education Center will be available, too.
Homeowner Roy Cole, who has gone through the city’s Home Energy Retrofit program, will also speak.
“The Home Energy Retrofit program helped us cut our electricity usage by more than half,” Cole said. “The solar panels and insulation will pay for themselves in around five years. … As for the house, no more drafts, icicles on the roof, excessive humidity or dryness, or noise from the street.”
 Andrea Goodell is community relations associate at Herrick District Library.  Herrick is one of the founding members of the series.

If You Go
What: “Comfort, Health, and Savings: Smart Energy at Home.”
When: 6 p.m. Oct. 9
Where: The Holland Energy Park, 1 Energy Park Way, Holland.
Register: Required at

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.

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 for more information.