Hometown Energy Heroes: as part of the efforts of the South Burlington Energy Committee to generate excitement about energy actions at the local level, committee member Fred Koznitsky began a series of articles in collaboration with our local newspaper, The Other Paper, to highlight actions of hometown energy heroes.
When I got to Tanya Lee Stone’s South Burlington home to do a short interview for this column, it was 90 degrees and humid. “What a relief” I thought to myself as she invited me into her office/workspace – it was air conditioned and delightfully cool. I noticed an air to air heat pump on the wall. It was one of the several energy related improvements that she had recently achieved that had led a couple of my South Burlington Energy Committee colleagues to suggest doing a column about her. More on the heat pump later – let’s start at the beginning of this journey.
Electricity - Going Solar Leasing with No Money Down
For most of us, three of the biggest energy uses we have are home electricity, home heating and (with a warming climate) cooling, and our personal transportation. For Tanya, an acclaimed children’s book author, the path to cutting her energy use, energy bills, and energy impact started with leasing a large array of solar panels mounted on the south facing roof of her home. “It was painless” she says of her experience. The vendor took care of properly sizing the project and her monthly lease price was significantly lower than her typical monthly electric bills. In addition, any excess electricity produced gave her a growing credit with the utility. Victory number one: her home got its power from the sun, reducing her carbon footprint, and she was saving a lot of money every month.
Heating and Cooling - Going Electric
Tanya works and writes at home, and her office is a large three season room adjoining the house. In past years she would have to move her work space into another part of the house, but she thought that with all the extra electricity her solar panels were generating, there might be another solution. Victory number two: here is where that heat pump comes in. It heats her office in the winter, allowing her to use the space year round, and these heat pumps also act as air conditioners in the summer months, allowing her to keep her work space cool and comfortable.
Transportation - Going Plug In Hybrid
Even with the heat pump operating, she was still producing more electricity than she used. When her Volvo recently got to the end of its useful life, she decided to look into plug in hybrid cars. Victory number three! They can run on electricity alone for about twenty miles, and can then kick into gas hybrid operation for longer drives. Since she works at home, most of her driving is short trips from home so she is visiting the gas station very infrequently. Her choice was the Ford C Max Energi, and Tanya reports that it is comfortable, has great handling, and is really fast and peppy. The car can plug right in to a normal house outlet to recharge, and Tanya is eager to see how much electricity it uses each month.
Advice? Don't Get Intimidated - It's Easier Than You Think
We finished up our short interview with the question “What advice can you offer to our fellow South Burlington residents?” Tanya replied “Don’t get intimidated. Taking the first step for me was the hardest, but you find that there are knowledgeable people out there to help with every aspect.” Once you start being more energy smart and aware, it becomes easier and more fun to look at what the next step might be. Who knows what her next energy move might be? Who knows what YOUR next energy move might be?
To learn more about Suncommon, visit Suncommon.com
To learn more about Ford CMax Energi, visit Ford