Seven Silver Spring families go green together -- Gazette.Net







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For seven Silver Spring families, energy conservation is a team effort.

The group of neighbors in Silver Spring’s Fairview Court community had their homes weatherized together this summer.

It all started when husband-and-wife Glenn Harper and Patrice McDermott of Silver Spring attended a meeting in Takoma Park about energy conservation.

The couple had thought about weatherizing their home for years but decided it was time to take action after the meeting in February.

“We wanted some weatherizing work done,” Harper said. “We thought the house was a little leaky. It’s hard to keep warm in the winter.”

They reached out to their neighbors in Fairview Court, which is located between Colesville Road and Spring Street by Fairview Park, through a neighborhood listserv. They invited them to a meeting at their home with Washington, D.C.-based WeatherizeDC, a nonprofit that advises people in the home weatherization process.

Seven of the 13 townhouses in the neighborhood signed on, and, as a group, they received a discount on weatherization improvements. WeatherizeDC sent out requests to local businesses for the work on Fairview Court and reviewed five proposals, presenting the best options to the Fairview Court homeowners, who chose Alexandria, Va.-based Continuum Energy Solutions to do the work.

“This is the first time we’ve had homeowners link weatherizations together,” said Elizabeth Condon, director of communications at WeatherizeDC. “It took a lot of organization, but it’s a tight-knit community. They completed the project actually without any issues.”

Neil Koslowe lives in Fairview Court and was part of the group weatherization in the neighborhood.

“The whole idea was to make it much more efficient in its energy use,” Koslowe said. “Hopefully, it will cut the energy bill. Hopefully, it will preserve heat better than it was before.”

Koslowe had cracks in the wall and ceilings filled in his home and upgraded the insulation in his attic.

“I think now everyone is a little environmentally conscious,” Koslowe said. “Anything that would cut energy costs and lower energy use is the socially positive thing to do.”

The Fairview Court group paid about 15 percent less for their improvements with the group discount, Condon said. People who weatherize their homes save 15 to 25 percent on their energy bills on average, Condon said.

Improvements on the homes started at the beginning of August, when an auditor came to each home to assess the work that needed to be done.

Each family had a different set of improvements completed on their home, Condon said, but almost everyone had insulation installed and cracks in their walls and ceilings sealed, which helps keep warm air in the house during the winter and cold air trapped in the summer.

Harper and McDermott had gaps in their home sealed and insulation blown into their pantry, which gets cold in the winter, Harper said. The insulation is blown into walls and attic floors with a vacuum hose.

Harper said the total cost for the changes would add up to about $3,000 for he and his wife. This was about the average cost for the seven households, Condon said, although she added that some paid more.

Harper said the work on all seven homes should be completed by early September, just in time to insulate the Fairview Court homes against the winter cold.