Green Needham member takes 10% Challenge, finds new motivation and needed support to make dream of greener home a reality.
As the first in this series of success stories, Bill Okerman’s experience resonates with those who have the firm desire to live in greener homes, but might lack the information and services to help them follow through. “I had been one of those people who was intending to do these things all along,” Okerman explained. “I had always been generally aware of the things that had been out there, but through Green Needham I became much more educated in terms of knowing where to go to get the services that would enable me to actually do it.”
Before undertaking Green Needham’s challenge to cut his home energy consumption, Okerman had already switched to fluorescent lighting, installed an energy-efficient air conditioning system in his home, and opted for an energy-efficient gas burner when his old one stopped working. When he became aware of Green Needham’s initiatives and the resources available to help him further reduce his home energy consumption, Okerman recognized a great opportunity to continue and broaden his efforts to live green.
“I think Green Needham was a real catalyst for getting me to take action,” Okerman said. “I was pretty well-informed, but the organization gave me the motivation to just go ahead and do it.” Okerman’s success story began when he contacted Next Step Living, a home energy audit company that participates in Green Needham’s Home Energy Efficiency Improvement seminars. While environmental concerns were his principal motivation, Okerman was also aware of the rebates and tax credits available through the process, an added incentive for pursuing a greener home environment. “Next Step Living took care of all the paper work associated with the rebates,” Okerman noted; indeed, he eventually received a check for $2,000 in rebates from NSTAR.
Improvements to Okerman’s home were implemented based upon the results of the audit. Next Step Living provided him with a proposal of energy-saving changes to be made to his home, which included cellulose insulation in his attic. Cellulose insulation, one of the most environmentally-friendly insulation options available, uses cellulose – material composed of 75-85% recycled fiber paper such as newsprint – to improve the thermal performance of home insulation. As a result, homeowners like Okerman reap multiple environmental benefits from cellulose insulation, as they employ a more sustainable, recycled product while gaining better quality thermal regulation, sound insulation, mold control, and fire retardation. As Okerman explained, “With the cellulose insulation, the house maintains its temperature longer, so we can use less energy to warm and cool our house.”
While Okerman hasn’t yet done detailed calculations to determine his ultimate energy savings from the recent insulation installation, the process and completion of the project serve as proof and confirmation of his successful efforts to take Green Needham’s challenge to heart. Okerman’s commitment to making large-scale changes in his family’s energy habits was already there – and with the help of Next Step Living and Green Needham, the often-intangible dream of creating a greener home became a feasible reality.
Okerman also noted that his previous home improvements are already proving beneficial. “The new energy-efficient burner has been a tremendous savings, and the aesthetics of a quieter air conditioning system are amazing,” he said. Okerman recommends audits from Next Step Living, and Green Needham’s 10% Challenge, to anyone who wants to finally forge ahead in their plans to reduce their home energy consumption. He advised other prospective participants that, “If you’re already predisposed and tuned into the energy efficiency issue, it’s not too hard, especially with an organization like Green Needham, to just get it done.”
Green Needham’s 10% Challenge is an ongoing project that began in January 2009 – and over 450 households had taken the challenge to reduce their home energy consumption by 10% by the end of our spring campaign that June. As part of our 2010 campaign to reach 1,000 households, those who have successfully undertaken Green Needham’s challenge to cut their energy consumption have agreed to share their stories with us.