Many college students experience frustration with inefficient rental units during the winter months. Since most students rent their off-campus homes for a temporary amount of time, they are reluctant to make significant financial investments in upgrading their home's efficiencies. This causes energy bills to peak during the winter months and, in some cases, for students to be uncomfortable in their own home.
Ecohouse residents are encouraged to tackle the issue of weatherization each winter by engaging in the following activities:
- Windows: When possible, storm windows are installed. Those windows that do not have that capability utilize plastic sheeting to keep cold drafts from entering the home. Proper installation and sealing (using a hairdryer to "shrink" the sheeting) is necessary for both efficiency and resident comfort (a loose plastic sheet on a drafty window creates a distracting noise and is quite unsightly).
- Doors: If a resident notices that a door is allowing a draft into the home, they are encouraged to create a "door draft dodger" by placing a towel along the bottom of the door or installing a simple draft stopper.
- Fireplace: The fireplace at the Ecohouse is plugged which restricts cold airflow into the home. If you have a home with a fireplace, be sure that the flue is closed when not in use.
- Insulation: During the beginning stages of the Ecohouse's renovations, COAD (Corporation for Ohio Appalachian Development) performed an audit on the house in order to determine what efficiency measures would be most effective. Insulation was one of the main areas that needed to be addressed. The Ecohouse has been insulated with Nu-Wool blown cellulose and R19 in the attic, sidewalls, crawl space, and basement walls, which has increased efficiency significantly. Another step residents take to insulate the house is to keep the storm windows in at all times and they add shrinking or plain window plastic to the windows in the winter in order to retain heat.
Ohio University's Office of Sustainability has partnered with Sugarbush Foundation and COAD to offer OU students with workshops on energy efficiency practices in the home. These workshops are free to all OU students and will tackle many issues that renters confront in their homes, including those practices listed above. For a full listing of these workshops, check out the calendar of events available at www.ohio.edu/sustainability.