Save energy —and your cash

The new LEED Platinum–certified Kensington High School for the Creative and Performing Arts features a unique type of insulation: old blue jeans. Students gave tours of the building and showed off its Levis-inspired padding and other green credentials at the Energy and Housing Fair, hosted last month by Sustainable 19125.

“‘LEED Platinum’ can sound like jargon for developers and environmentalists,” says Kevin Musselman, one of the fair’s organizers. “But the more important aspect is that these students are aware of the green elements and proud to show them to their neighbors.”

In addition to the tours, neighbors got loads of advice on how to keep home energy use down while keeping comfort levels up.

Couldn’t make the fair? Here are some of the featured tips to upgrade your spring cleaning:

Heat up
“I’ve gotten the biggest bang for my buck investing in roof insulation,” says Cory Suter, owner of roofing company BioNeighbors Sustainable Homes. “A lot of the old homes in Philadelphia aren’t well-insulated, and 70 percent of heat loss is through your roof.”

Want to get ahead of next February??Suter recommends adding a “blow-in” insulation (it’s blown into place through a hose, filling up all the nooks and crannies) to the space between the roof and ceiling rafters.

Bring in the professionals
“The No. 1 thing I recommend is to have a home energy audit, and there’s even a great rebate program in place for it through EnergyWorks,” says Jon Jensen of the Delaware Valley Green Building Council.

An energy audit will identify the most cost-effective upgrades a homeowner can make — such as adding insulation or sealing hidden cracks — and check that the house is operating safely.

Be smart about cooling this summer

A white roof, or “cool roof,” can cut the air-conditioning bill for the average Philadelphia row home 10 to 20 percent — and all it takes is a paint job, says Suter.

“A white acrylic coating reflects 85 to 90 percent of the sun’s heat,” he explains. “It’s a very simple solution that controls temperature and prevents UV damage, saving homeowners money and adding years of life to a roof.”

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