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Green Building News

Energy Smackdown: A Year of Living Greenly

A weatherization “barn-raising.” One of three teams of homeowners participating in Energy Smackdown, an energy conservation competition taking place in the Boston area, weatherized a team member’s home. The process included a blower door test to measure air leakage.
Image Credit: Martin LaMonica/CNET News.com

A green-tech reporter who entered a Boston-area energy reduction competition almost a year ago describes his immersion in the finer points of do-it-yourself energy conservation

Sometimes it is hard to say who is more motivated: those who deploy energy efficiency tactics at home out of economic necessity, those who act on ecological principal, or those whose energy conservation geekery is propelled by team spirit.

At first I thought financial considerations and ecological altruism would trump all. But then I read a blog posted on Monday by Martin LaMonica, who covers green technology for CNET News.com, about his participation in a contest called Energy Smackdown.

Energy Smackdown challenges three “teams” of households to cut their energy consumption. The teams represent neighboring cities in the Boston area, and the 12-month challenge covers energy use not just in the home but during commutes, road trips, and air travel. It also factors in the trash generated by each household.

Designed by a Medford, Massachusetts, nonprofit called BrainShift Foundation, Smackdown is intended as an educational program for the larger community, not just the participants: Two households from each team are being filmed for an “Energy Smackdown” television series.

LaMonica writes that he initially was reluctant to enter the competition because he already had implemented several energy-saving strategies in his home and wasn’t sure he could make further, significant improvements in that area. The crisis of confidence was short-lived, however. He acquired a solar power system last spring, which flipped the legs out from under his electric bill and slammed it to the mat. Over the past year, he says, his home has sent a bit more power back to the grid than it has used.

He also bought a foldable solar panel to charge his cell phone, game machine, and rechargeable batteries, helped his team replace 888 incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents, helped weatherize a team member’s home, and got deep into energy audit techniques.

It’s a good read. And it’ll be interesting to see who won the contest when the Energy Smackdown results are announced next month.

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