Why I Hosted a C3 Power Party

by Chris Meyer, LEAP  Executive Director

Even before joining the Local Energy Alliance Program as its Executive Director, I had a passion for energy efficiency. On a day-to-day basis this manifested in small things I could do in my own home, like turn off lights and manage the house’s thermostat. However, I’ve wanted to do more and bigger things for a long time. Only recently have I had the opportunity to do.

My family moved recently to Charlottesville and built a new house. We worked with the builder on a goal of net zero energy use. To do so, we paid extra for a geothermal heating and cooling system, an on-demand hot water heating system, zoned heating and cooling linked to smart thermostats, foam insulation for the whole house, super efficient windows, all LED bulbs, and solar panels on the roof. We reduced our energy consumption significantly in the first year, but not to zero, so we added an additional set of solar panels last year.

Almost all of the actions above required extra up front investment, but we were able to build those into the home financing and take advantage of the significant rebates available for many of the systems. The additional cost in the monthly mortgage is easily covered because our energy bill is $8/month for nine months of the year, and significantly reduced for the other three months. I encourage anyone building a new home to include as many of these systems as possible in order to secure the better financing and realize these important energy and financial savings right away

Another thing I wanted to do was engage my friends and neighbors in a fun way to also take action in reducing their energy use. I came upon Charlottesville Climate Collaborative’s (C3) Home Energy Challenge and their accompanying “Power Parties.” This type of social based information sharing is a really effective way to drive change. The host, me in this case, gets to ‘preach’ energy efficiency in a not too obnoxious way with the support of C3’s program staff. Guests get valuable information about energy use and reduction and everyone has fun, food and drinks.

I hosted my Power Party last week and it more than lived up to my expectations. It was very social and C3 provided a facilitator who took us all through some fun games and a short, accessible discussion. We reviewed basic actions, such as switching from incandescent to LED light bulbs, or taking the bus instead of driving, and how those can save you $$$ while also reducing climate change impacts.

All attendees, myself included, were led through the process of forming a team and can now use the Home Energy Challenge platform to track our climate impact and how much money we are saving. My family set a goal of saving 5000 lbs of CO2/greenhouse gas emissions this year.

The new actions my family will take to meet our 5000+ lb reduction goal as part of the Home Energy Challenge will mean some changes. Many changes like riding my bike to work will not only benefit our health, but save us money, and I’m excited about them! As the new LEAP Executive Director, I intend to set an energy-saving example in my personal life and I look forward to sharing with you my family’s actions and progress as we participate in the HEC.

When I signed up for a Power Party I did not know I would be serving as LEAP’s Executive Director, so you can bet I was excited to see LEAP’s $45 Home Energy Check-Up listed on the HEC platform as an action worth 1000 points. Do yourself, your house, your energy bill and your neighbors a favor — host a C3 Power Party, form a team, and schedule a LEAP Home Energy Check-Up to get started on a plan for reducing your energy use at home.



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