Workshop: Going green makes cents

By Mayra Urteaga
Staff Writer

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Your home’s air conditioner and light bulbs might be sapping the green out of your wallet, but there are ways to save your cash and the environment.

Manuel Reyna/Collegian 
Garrett Dorsey III, of IFC International, informs the audience how to make their homes more energy efficient during the “Energy Star Homes Workshop,” held Wednesday in the International Technology, Education and Commerce Center.

The Go Green Assistance Center’s "Energy Star Homes Workshop" offered consumers tips on making their homes energy efficient.

Attendees received a Compact Fluorescent Light (CFL) bulb, which uses 75 percent less energy than standard bulbs. The Web site recommends homeowners replace the regular bulbs with CFLs in rooms or areas where the lights are on most of the time, such as the kitchen, living room, bathroom and the porch.

Energy Star is a program developed in 1992 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to help businesses and individuals become energy efficient and control global warming.

You can identify if a home appliance, electronic product, building or house is energy efficient by looking for the Energy Star logo.

To obtain an Energy Star rating, a house must pass through the certification process. First, the house should be planned to be energy efficient. Then, it should be inspected by a local inspector. A final inspection by a Home Energy Rater is next. In this inspection, the rater performs a blower door test, to identify the number of leaks in the house, and a duct blaster test, to identify leaks in the duct system. The rater will then generate an index report about the home using the Home Energy Rating System. Finally, the certification and label is provided to the homeowner.

Guest speaker Garrett Dorsey III works for IFC International, a consulting firm that provides green solutions for businesses all over the world, according to the firm’s Web site.

Dorsey explained the main features that make a home energy efficient: sealing the air-conditioning ducts, installing insulation properly, selecting an efficient cooling system, installing coated double-pane windows, buying efficient appliances and using CFL bulbs.

He emphasized the importance of reducing the air conditioner load by sealing correctly the ducts of the system.

"The biggest thing that everybody knows uses the most energy in the house is what? The AC," Dorsey said, "and we know that here in Brownsville, we use the AC 366 days a year."

Some of the benefits of improving the AC ventilation are reducing drafts, noise, moisture and dust pollen, as well as improved efficiency and lower utility bills.

Dorsey recommends mastic, a very durable paste, to seal the ducts of the air conditioner because it fills all the gaps in between connections. It can be a do-it-yourself project that costs around $300 and will lower your electric bill, he explained.

"Guess what? Every one of you who is living in a house today is air conditioning the neighborhood and you don’t know it," he said. "This is where you are wasting your money."

To receive the Energy Star certification, a home must have less than 6 percent of air conditioner leakage.

Another reason the air conditioner spends a lot of energy is the location of the AC unit. If it is placed in a high temperature environment, the performance of the unit will be low.

"Most of the houses have these units up in the attic," Dorsey said. "What is the attic’s average temperature? 160 degrees, so you have an air conditioner that is trying to cool a room down to 76 degrees, which means it has to produce air at 64 degrees to pump it into that room. That is kind of like taking an ice-cube tray and putting it in your oven to make ice. How fast are you going to make ice in your oven?"

About 40 students, faculty, staff and members of the community attended the workshop, which took place last Wednesday in the International Technology, Education and Commerce Center, located at 301 Mexico Blvd.

Ricardo Rendon, a sophomore architecture major, said the workshop was very informative and useful for his studies.

"It has to do a lot with a project we are doing right now in the architectural program," Rendon said, "We are actually working on a home for a low-income family and this is everything that we have to use in our homes and we have to integrate in our homes, so it was very useful."

Ricardo Gonzalez, program director of the Go Green Assistance Center, explained why it is important to organize this type of event for the community.

"People need to start thinking how to start making their homes more energy efficient," Gonzalez said, "how to save money, how to reduce the carbon footprint and these presentations will start getting people in mind, in focus, on all these new green technologies, so we have to be pushing that in order for people to save money and save our environment as well."

The center plans to offer more workshops on such topics as water conservation, green building, energy awareness and saving energy, as well as the use of alternative energy sources, such as biofuels and solar and wind energy.

For more information on receiving an Energy Star home visit,


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