By Melissa Quinn
With winter quickly approaching, one Alexandria resident is patching up her home’s cracks and crevices as part of an energy efficiency makeover courtesy of a consortium of local groups, businesses and city officials.
Ann Dorman, executive director of First Night Alexandria, and her husband, Rich, received $3,000 for a home makeover from LEAP — the Local Energy Alliance Program. She originally entered the contest as a trial run of sorts.
Dorman wanted to make sure the contest was credible, but after learning about LEAP’s partners – including Dominion Resources, City Hall and CommonwealthOne – decided to give it a try.
After completing a survey to evaluate how much gas and electricity her home consumes, she and her husband realized they could save money by making the improvements.
They had no intention of winning, but remained committed to making their home more energy efficient.
“I never win anything,” Rich marveled last week when contest organizers presented the couple with the check.
Soon after, Ann received a call from Michael Hogan, LEAP’s residential energy services manager, declaring her the third place winner and recipient of $3,000 for renovations to make the couple’s Kenwood Avenue home more energy efficient.
“In Northern Virginia, we want to give unbiased, professional advice on improvements to be done to make homes more energy efficient,” said Cynthia Adams, LEAP’s executive director.
Representatives from LEAP, Energy Masters of Virginia and Dominion Resources arrived at the townhome to evaluate everything from light bulbs to kitchen appliances to cracks and crevices in the attic.
The first, Hogan said, is the light bulbs in the kitchen, which heat up to 175 degrees Fahrenheit apiece, often times making the kitchen very hot. Those bulbs will be replaced with LED lights, which save energy and last a lifetime.
Hogan and his colleagues also noticed a leak in one the stove’s burners, which released carbon dioxide into the home.
Among their other finings, they identified several spaces between pipes and insulation and the walls. The crevices led to drafts, a few strong enough to close doors.
“Plugging up the holes is a cost effective way to stop air flow and make the home more comfortable,” he said.
The money given to the Dormans from LEAP will be used to complete the improvements, with work set to conclude between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Though the Dormans were the sole Alexandrians to benefit from the competition, homeowners in Arlington received $10,000 and a while a Reston resident walked away with $5,000.
“Through the Eco-City Charter, we have goals for the whole city to reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions,” said Bill Eger, energy manager at the Department of General Services. “The city is actively supporting this program.”
Alexandria currently boasts five certified energy efficient buildings, including T.C. Williams High School and police headquarters along Wheeler Avenue.
“We want our residents to achieve financial sustainability as well as energy efficiency,” Eger said.
LEAP, working with Dominion Resources, secured a grant from the Department of Energy to fund the projects.
And for Alexandria residents who may not have won the prize — or known about the contest — the organization works with CommonwealthOne to provide low-interest loans to homeowners looking to make their homes more energy efficient. Residents making less than the median household income for the region are eligible for the loans, with a 4.9 percent interest rate.
Since its inception in 2009, the group has helped more than 800 of the commonwealth’s homeowners increase energy efficiency and expanded to include Northern Virginia last year.