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This second article of The Mountaineer climate column hits not just close to home, but inside it. Air leaks and inadequate insulation are costing homeowners and renters lots of money every year.

This waste can be stopped with some simple energy-saving changes and upgrades.

Multi-family housing should be fixed so the exorbitant power bills many renters pay can be reduced. Poorly-insulated dwellings in WNC contribute to some renters’ being unable to avoid homelessness.

Replacing or adding paving? Make it “permeable paving” to help reduce flooding and pollution of groundwater.

Common energy wasters are air leaks around outside doors, insufficient attic insulation, and air leaks around ductwork.

Win-win-win: 1) You’ll save money immediately on power bills. 2) You’ll be more comfortable. 3) You’ll know you’re helping today’s babies and children have a livable future.

What homeowners, landlords, and developers can do now:

Own a home? Contact your power company. After getting an energy audit or survey report, have as many energy upgrades as you can afford: attic insulation; sealed leaks around doors, windows, and ductwork. Rebates are likely.

If you plan to build a home or are a developer, landlord, or public housing agency, join the new movement of smaller, more energy-efficient housing. Well-designed small homes have plenty of storage, and feel spacious and airy.

Unplug — don’t just turn off — everything electrical you can when not using it. See the Forbes Magazine “Top 26 Energy Hogs, Turned Off” link below.

If you haven’t replaced conventional light bulbs with LED bulbs, even a few make a difference. They last so much longer, too.

Permeable paving: https://www.fredadamspaving.com/permeable-pavement/ and https://unilock.com/find-contractor/

More ideas and resources from Southern Living Magazine: https://www.southernliving.com/syndication/smart-home-strategies-to-maximize-your-energy-efficiency

Why act?

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS), a U.S.-wide professional organization, and all other experts say energy upgrades are necessary to reducing the worst effects of the climate crisis.

First, about 20 percent of U.S. fossil fuel emissions come from homes.

Second, more large homes with high ceilings are increasing the U.S. carbon footprint.

Third, of all nations world-wide, the U.S. is second only to pollution-choked China in amount of climate-destroying emissions, especially fossil fuels and related pollution.

Who says — the experts:

National Academy of Sciences. Research article “The carbon footprint of household energy use in the United States” Link: https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2020/07/14/1922205117

Forbes Magazine, “Top 26 Energy Hogs, Turned ‘Off’” Link: https://www.forbes.com/pictures/efee45gejh/no-24-crt-computer-display/#e3484bce1558

What you need to act now:

Department of Energy Home Energy Guide: https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/services/energy-saver-guide-tips-saving-money-and-energy-home

Haywood EMC: http://adventure.touchstoneenergy.com/choosePath

Duke Energy free home audit for single-family homeowners: https://www.duke-energy.com/home/products/home-energy-house-call

Duke Energy Progress energy-saving products and services for businesses, including landlords: https://www.duke-energy.com/business/products

Southern Living Magazine, “30+ Small House Plans That Are Just the Right Size.” https://www.southernliving.com/home-garden/small-house-plans

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