Lois Leading Change
Lois is a long-term advocate of sustainability here in Princeton. Lois has been volunteering with Sustainable Princeton for seven years, most recently at our ecommuter fest, as pictured. In her personal life, she always has sustainability in mind, from installing a Nest thermostat to planting her yard with drought-tolerant perennials and composting, most recently at the new municipal compost site. Two of her most recent endeavors are having Ciel come to her home for an energy-efficiency assessment and subscribing to a Community Solar project.
Lois had two objectives when she undertook her home energy-efficiency assessment. She wanted her home to be more comfortable and uniformly heated and cooled, as well as wanting to minimize her use of fossil fuels to improve her overall sustainability. She shared her positive experience with an energy efficiency assessment on her nearly 150-year-old home that has been through extensive renovations. She had energy advisors from Ciel do the assessment, which she found out about through Sustainable Princeton, writing, “Before I had any work done, the house felt drafty, and the pipes along an exterior wall in one bathroom would freeze in very cold weather.” After the assessment, which took less than three hours, Ciel provided a report of their findings and recommendations.
Lois was not obligated to make any of the changes recommended but decided to have some of the work done by Ciel. The improvements included adding more insulation in the attic and basement and sealing off the attic entrance and basement crawl space. She received a partial rebate from New Jersey under an energy efficiency program for this work. With these new upgrades, Lois shared, “I have found that on many days I can avoid using my central air conditioning by pulling the shades when the sun streams through the windows; leaving the windows open at night but closing them during the day to keep the cool air in; and by using ceiling fans”. Her home could have also been made more efficient with new air-conditioning units, but she decided to wait until they needed replacing. When that time comes she has already decided she will switch to a heat pump.
I first met Lois when she came into the SP office and told us how she had recently become an evangelist for how simple it was to subscribe to a community solar project. She shared more about wanting to install solar panels on her own roof, but for various reasons, it just wasn’t an option. She wrote about how she heard of Community Solar, “I was aware of the existence of Community Solar but thought incorrectly that it was meant for use by apartment dwellers. After watching Sustainable Princeton’s Sustainable Minds video on Community Solar, I realized it might be the perfect solution for me. I checked out the New Jersey Community Solar Project Finder website and randomly applied to BEMS Community Solar West. The online application process was simple and took less than 15 minutes to complete.” She is still waiting for the project she signed up for to be operational, but she is looking forward to being a community solar subscriber.
What the Future Holds
Lois’ sustainability plans do not end there! She has plans for two big purchases, an electric car and a heat pump. Currently, she drives a hybrid but is “keen to get an electric car”, and hopes to see continued improvements in battery technology to get more miles per charge before making the purchase. As for the heat pump, she has started her research but is struggling to know when to make the switch since her air conditioning and heating units are all working. Stay tuned for future events from Sustainable Princeton that hope to make this process easier!
How you can be like Lois
Schedule an energy-efficiency assessment for your home! See which program is available to you.
In New Jersey, 51% of subscribers for community solar projects must be low-moderate income. Due to high demand, many of the current community solar programs have filled their non-low-moderate income portion of subscribers but still have room for low-moderate income subscribers. If you are not low-moderate income you can still join a waitlist. Check out which projects serve your area using this community solar project finder.
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