Minnesota is not known for mild winters, which makes keeping heat in buildings a top priority. Weatherization is the prime approach to do just that. Weatherization techniques, such as air sealing and envelope improvements, provide relatively low-cost energy savings and warmer buildings for occupants in wintertime.
Air sealing steps include caulking and weather-stripping windows and doors, as well as sealing bypasses in attics, walls, foundations, and ducts. Simple steps such as these can prevent energy and money from being wasted. Additionally, insulation and air sealing measures often reduce draftiness and enhance comfort inside of buildings.
According to the Pyramid of Conservation, literature published by Minnesota Power, air leaks alone can account for 10-25% of heat loss from an individual home. The same is true for any other building. These sealing techniques are the first steps to take (even before insulating) to prevent heat from escaping and ensure that the heat energy is being put to its best use.
This is exactly the sentiment that Westbrook-Walnut Grove School District intended to pursue with the help of an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) of $13,933 distributed by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The project aimed to lower utility bills and to improve energy efficiency of the Westbrook-Walnut Grove High School building by pursuing weatherization measures.
The school’s single-pane windows and entryway doors (1956-1961 vintage) were allowing heat to escape during colder months. To rectify this, the District used EECBG dollars to replace these windows and doors with U.S.-made, energy-efficient products, and were sealed from the effects of extreme weather with spray-foam insulation.
There is also the opportunity to support local businesses and spur economic development with weatherization implementation, and Westbrook-Walnut Grove School District employed a local contractor to do the work. Superintendent Loy Woelber noted that hiring a local contractor was a great perk, as the contractor was available at short notice to come back and make sure the seals and insulation were working well.
Weatherization practices like sealing and insulation could be a smart step toward energy efficiency in your community, as they create jobs and support the local economy (the people doing the work need to be nearby), save utility costs and reduce energy consumption and waste, and enhance comfort of occupants by eliminating drafts.
About the Local Government Energy Action Series:
This year-long effort tells the stories of nearly 50 Minnesota municipalities, counties, and schools and the tangible results of their energy-saving efforts in order to inspire others to take their own actions. See all stories in this series >>
Local Government Energy Action is brought to you by the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) in partnership with the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources.
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