The arrival of summer brings family trips to the beach, backyard barbecues and for many homes, peak energy use.
Fortunately, Washington Gas makes saving energy surprisingly easy — for the community and for their customers. If you are a homeowner, the season is right to take advantage of programs and services from Washington Gas that can help save energy, money and the environment.
Before you plan your next outdoor picnic, take a moment to use the free Washington Gas Home Energy Profile Tool, available on their website, washingtongasrebates.com/profile.
Within a few minutes, you will get a comprehensive analysis of your home’s energy use and learn how you can save energy through identifying potential cost savings. The Home Energy Profile Tool is available in both English and Spanish.
Big energy savings can begin by making small changes in and around your home, especially during the summer months. To help get you get started, Washington Gas is making its free energy conservation kit available to all Virginia residential customers who complete the Home Energy Profile.
Customers can simply request the kit once completing the Home Energy Profile. The items contained in the free kit will help you conserve energy and reduce utility bills. The items in the free kit include:
- A High-Efficiency Showerhead: Enjoy strong, consistent water pressure from a high-efficiency showerhead, while saving water and the energy required to heat the water.
- A Bathroom Faucet Aerator: Made to fit bathroom faucets, this product maintains great water pressure while conserving water and energy.
- Self-Adhesive Door Sweep: Prevent air leaks under entry doors by creating a tight seal between the door and the door’s threshold.
- A Roll of Closed Cell Foam Weather Strip: Seal air leaks around doors
and windows to prevent outside drafts from coming in and to prevent air inside your home from escaping.
This summer take the first step toward creating a more energy-efficient home by completing the Home Energy Profile available at washingtongasrebates.com/profile.
Hot Day Ahead — Anyone spending time outdoors today should hydrate frequently and take proper precautions. The heat index is expected to climb into the 90s or even the low 100s. An air quality alert is also in effect. [Twitter, Twitter, National Weather Service]
Energy Rebate Program Ending — Arlington’s energy rebate program, which provides rebates to homeowners who add high-efficiency HVAC or water heaters, or who perform other energy-saving work, is ending due to county budget cuts. The last day to apply is today, June 18. [Twitter, EcoAction Arlington]
Rosslyn Bus Tunnel to Open — “A long-delayed bus tunnel in Rosslyn that is expected to help ease traffic in the area and significantly speed up bus trips has now been turned over to Metro, and should formally open within weeks. Metrobus and Arlington’s ART routes are expected to begin using the street-level tunnel June 24 through a glitzy new building between N. Moore Street and N. Lynn Street.” [WTOP]
GOP Beyer Challenger Courts LGBT Voters — “Thomas Oh, the Republican candidate embarked on an uphill quest to unseat U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-8th), is reaching out to a constituency often left untapped by local Republican candidate. ‘I proudly support the LGBT community. I firmly believe in providing equality for every American,’ Oh said as he marched with the Capital Area Young Republicans in the recent Capital Pride Parade in the District of Columbia.” [InsideNova]
County Board Approves DARPA Changes — “Citing its desire to retain DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency headquartered in Ballston, the Arlington County Board today unanimously approved adding 1,265 square feet to its building for a secure screening and visitor check-in facility.” [Arlington County]
Graduations at Arlington High Schools — Wakefield, Washington-Lee and Yorktown high schools help their respective graduation ceremonies last week. Said Wakefield’s class president: “Just because this chapter of our lives is closing, we will prevail and go on to do great. The thing is, don’t think of this as a ‘goodbye,’ but a ‘see you later.'” [InsideNova, InsideNova, InsideNova]
Photo courtesy @TheLastFC
An Arlington elementary school is earning some kudos for its energy efficiency, after it generated more energy than it used last year.
The nonprofit International Living Future Institute awarded Discovery Elementary School with its “zero energy” certification on May 2, meaning that the school was powered completely by on-site renewable energy sources over the course of a whole year.
Discovery, which opened in September 2015, is just the fourth school across the country to earn this certification, and the largest building of any type with such a distinction, according to a press release.
The building’s designer, Charlottesville-based VMDO Architects, says Discovery’s energy systems saved Arlington Public Schools roughly $117,000 in annual utility costs. The firm also estimates that the building sent roughly 100,000 kilowatt hours of excess energy back to the electrical grid, enough to meet the average power needs of 7.5 households.
APS partnered with the U.S. Department of Energy to help design plans for “zero energy” school facilities, and last year changed its procurement rules to require that contractors can meet that energy standard. The school also designs lessons about renewable energy around the building’s systems, giving students hands-on experience with the facility.
“What is most important about [Discovery] is that it allows teachers to think about how students learn,” Discovery principal Erin Russo wrote in a statement. “Curriculum is just something the state gives to us and you can teach that anywhere, but with this space, we can get creative, experiment and shepherd meaningful experiences.”
It may be spring, but snow cometh! What can you know with snow? Try this!
As snow falls, keep an eye on your roof and the roofs of surrounding homes. Even a little snow can tell a lot about the energy efficiency of a home.
As snow melts, you may be able to identify issues in your home. Fast-melting roof snow can be a symptom of inadequate insulation.
Not all areas of missing snow are indications of energy issues. Hone your eye by taking note of tree limbs over a home, high winds and areas where direct sun may create funky patterns on a roof.
Nevertheless, watching snow patterns on the roof is a quick way to take inventory of what might be happening in your home.
Arlington’s Home Energy Rebates are available through June 18. Time is limited to insulate your home for year-round comfort or upgrade to a more efficient water heater, heating or cooling system!
Completed projects and rebate applications must be submitted by June 18.
Stay warm, stay safe and keep an eye on your roof. It might be trying to tell you something.
Delays on Blue, Orange Lines Due to Person Struck — A person was struck by a train at the L’Enfant Metro station around 9:30 this morning. The incident is causing delays on the Blue and Orange lines, as service has been suspended between L’Enfant and Federal Center. Silver Line trains are operating between Wiehle and Ballston. [Twitter, Twitter, Washington Post]
Reminder: E-CARE Event This Weekend — Arlington County is holding its biannual Environmental Collection and Recycling Event (E-CARE) on Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. This time around the venue has changed; the recycling and hazardous household materials collection event is now being held at Yorktown High School (5200 Yorktown Blvd). [Arlington County]
Scott Disick Comes to Arlington, Disses ARLnow — Updated at 12:10 p.m. — Reality TV personality Scott Disick lorded over the grand opening ceremony for Sugar Factory in Pentagon City last night. About 100 people, mostly young women, showed up for the event, according to an ARLnow employee on the scene. Disick did interviews with local news outlets, but PR reps cut off the interviews and ushered Disick away just as our employee was next in line. [Twitter, Facebook, Daily Mail]
Kirwan’s Opens to Big Crowds — Mark Kirwan, owner of Samuel Beckett’s in Shirlington, may have another hit on his hands. His new bar, Kirwan’s on the Wharf in Southwest D.C., was packed last night before the Foo Fighters concert at the Anthem. [Facebook]
Courthouse Plaza Parking Lot Closed Sunday — The county’s Courthouse Plaza parking lot will be closed most of the day Sunday for the 2017 Animal Welfare League of Arlington Pints 4 Paws event. [Arlington County]
Marymount Makes USNWR Top Tier — “Marymount University is once again in the top tier among Regional Universities in the South in several categories, ranking 52nd overall in the 2018 edition of ‘Best Colleges’ by U.S. News & World Report.” [Marymount University]
AIRE Wins Regional Award — The Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy was among this year’s recipients of the Climate and Energy Leadership Awards from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments. AIRE’s Energy Lending Library “makes it easy to check out a thermal camera, a box of 10 different LED bulbs, energy meter, and Do-It-Yourself energy retrofit books through the library system free of charge,” notes COG. [Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
More School Boundary Changes Ahead — The always-controversial process of changing school boundaries in Arlington is on the School Board agenda during the next school year. The School Board plans to tackle middle school boundaries in the fall and elementary school boundaries in the spring. [InsideNova]
Arlington’s Energy Lending Program Lauded — “Arlington County’s Energy Lending Library program has received the Virginia Association of Counties (VACo) 2017 Achievement Award… Through the program, residents can borrow free energy efficiency tools from their local library, along with the information needed to identify and act on energy efficiency opportunities. These tools include: a thermal camera, a sampler kit of 10 different LED lightbulbs, an energy meter to manage home electricity use, and Do-It-Yourself energy retrofit books.” [Arlington County]
Vornado Trying to Offload Rosslyn Plaza — Vornado, which recently spun off most of its Arlington properties to the newly-renamed JBG Smith, retained ownership interests in a number of local properties. Among them is Rosslyn Plaza, which was approved for a massive development last year. Vornado is now trying to sell its share in the 7.65 acre property. [Washington Business Journal]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
The program aims to “support organizations that sustain, enhance or protect the local environment and communities.” Transurban manages the HOT lanes on the Capital Beltway, and will do the same for the planned I-395 HOT lanes set to run through Arlington.
Over $550,000 has been awarded to 119 organizations around Northern Virginia since 2008, several of which that have been from Arlington. Any group can apply for a grant via the online application.
The Energy Masters Program, which promotes sustainability throughout Arlington, received grant funding to help residents at the Fort Henry Gardens apartment complex in Nauck with insulation issues, and to help refurbish over 50 units.
The CPRO received grant funding to improve the Columbia Pike farmers market and ensure that residents have access to fresh, locally sourced food. In addition, the money received was also used to design messages that were placed around schools, libraries, churches and apartment complexes and on social media about the grant program and how to apply.
In the future, CPRO plans to work with local partners such as the Arlington Food Assistance program on additional nutrition-related outreach.
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimmick
DOE Highlights Discovery Elementary — The U.S. Department of Energy has profiled Arlington’s Discovery Elementary in a new video. DOE lauds the school for its net zero energy design, which “saves $100,000 per year in utility costs, enough to cover the salaries of two teachers” and was implemented under-budget. [YouTube, Blue Virginia]
Hackathon in Clarendon — Capital One is holding a Women in Tech hackathon at its Clarendon “lab” office next week. “Attendees will have the opportunity to ‘create a technical solution for Women Who Code that empowers girls and women to stay in the tech field.'” [Technical.ly DC, Women in Tech Demo Day]
Arlington Native Pens New Bodice Ripper — On the heels of the success of her debut novel, Seven Days, Arlington’s Ariel Atwell (the pen name of Leslie Aun) has written a follow-up, Twenty-One Nights. The Regency romance is No. 28 on Amazon’s chart for that category. [Amazon]
Nearby: JBG Announces New HQ in Bethesda — In a bit of a blow to Arlington, JBG has announced that it will be opening a new headquarters in downtown Bethesda. JBG has numerous properties in Arlington and will soon be merging with Vornado’s D.C. division, which includes extensive holdings in Arlington. [Bethesda Beat]
Flickr pool photo by Bekah Richards
New LED Crossing Guard Signs — VDOT is giving Arlington County a $880 grant that will allow it to purchase four new LED-illuminated paddle signs for crossing guards. The new signs will show “‘slow’ on one side and ‘stop’ on the other… when illuminated, they are visible up to one mile away.” The County Board is expected to accept the grant at its Saturday meeting. [Arlington County]
County Board to Make Car-Sharing Permanent — On Saturday the Arlington County Board is expected to vote to make car-sharing systems permanent in county code. Earlier this year the Board authorized trips between Arlington and D.C. for car-share provider Car2Go. The move has significantly boosted Car2Go’s usage in Arlington. [UrbanTurf]
Discovery Elementary’s Net Zero Goal — Officials from the U.S. Department of Energy recently toured Arlington’s new Discovery Elementary school. The school was built to be a Net Zero Energy building, meaning that it produces more energy than it uses. The school’s solar panel array cost $1.5 million but is expected to pay for itself in about 10 years. [WJLA]
Man Sentenced for Sneaking Into U.S., Again — A Guatemalan man who has a colorful history of sneaking into the U.S., being deported, and trying to come back again, has been sentenced to jail time. Juan Abel Belteton-Barrios, 46, was sentenced to 14 months in prison and three years of supervised release. [Patch]
Why East Falls Church? — GGW has a primer on his history and geography of the various Northern Virginia locales with “Falls Church” in the name or postal address, including Arlington’s East Falls Church neighborhood. [Greater Greater Washington]
County Announces ‘Energy Lending Library’ — Today, on Earth Day, Arlington County is formally announcing what it says is the nation’s first “energy lending library.” Via Arlington Public Library, residents will be able to borrow thermal imaging cameras, energy meters and books that will help residents identify areas of energy waste in their homes. [Arlington County]
Woman Arrested After Foot Chase in Pentagon City — A shoplifting suspect was taken into custody in Pentagon City after leading police on a foot chase yesterday, just before 6 p.m. Police were still searching for the woman’s shoplifting accomplice. [Twitter]
New Lubber Run Community Center Planned — Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz has proposed a new, $45 million Lubber Run Community Center. The four-story structure would also include a parking garage, so that the existing surface lot can be converted to parkland. [InsideNova]
Arlington Hires Full-Time Ombudsman — Arlington County has a new ombudsman. Former Dept. of Human Services assistant director Robert Sharpe has been named to the county’s newly-created position of Director of Constituent Services. Sharpe’s job will be “troubleshooting issues on behalf of his fellow Arlington residents while working directly with departments, County leadership and the County Board.” [Arlington County]
Free ‘Pop Up Yoga’ Session on the Pike — On Sunday, from 11 a.m. to noon, a free “pop up” yoga class will be held at Penrose Square (2503 Columbia Pike). “Lisa Marie, local artist and certified yoga instructor, will lead the participants through postures, intentions and breath” that are specifically inspired by the pair of sculptures in the park. [With Love DC]
Medics on Motorcycles? — The citizen task force coming up with recommendations for Arlington’s Fire Station 8 has struck upon a novel idea: using motorcycle-based paramedics to get to patients faster in traffic than would a big, lumbering ambulance. Not every member of the task force, however, thought that was a good idea, citing potential issues with staffing. [InsideNova]
Flickr pool photo by Dennis Dimick
VDOT to Talk I-66 in Arlington — VDOT officials are expected to provide some specifics about their plan to upgrade I-66 inside the Beltway during a meeting with the Arlington Transportation Commission. That meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 5 at 7:30 p.m. in the County Board Room at 2100 Clarendon Blvd. VDOT is said to be considering converting a portion of I-66 into HOT lanes. The agency has yet to reveal whether it will push for additional lanes inside the Beltway as well. [InsideNova]
Arlington Prosecutor Takes Morrissey Case — Arlington Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos will be the lead prosecutor in the latest criminal case against Del. Joe Morrissey, who is currently serving a work-release jail sentence after pleading guilty to having sex with a 17-year-old. [Washington Post]
Cops: Don’t Drive Drunk After the Big Game — Arlington County Police are reminding residents not to drive drunk after the Super Bowl on Sunday. For those planning on downing a few brewskies, ACPD recommends designating a driver, calling a cab or taking public transit. “Don’t want to attend the Detention Center’s #SuperBowlXLIX viewing party? Plan ahead by designating a #SoberRide home,” the department said via Twitter. [Arlington County, Twitter]
Energy Journey Game This Weekend — Call it the Super Bowl of local government-sponsored, energy-themed, life-sized board games. This weekend, Arlington County is holding the latest installment of its “Energy Journey Game,” an interactive life-size board game that tests your “energy IQ.” It’s taking place at Wakefield High School starting at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday. [Arlington County]
A Visit to Pentagon City’s DEA Museum — The Capitol Hill publication Roll Call has a gonzo journalism account of one reporter’s trip to the DEA Museum in Pentagon City. From the article’s prelude: “And suddenly, there was a terrible mall all around us and the sky was full of what looked like squat office buildings — all glass and concrete and blocking out the sunlight — and the sound of the Metro, which ran underneath the Pentagon City Mall and the Pentagon Centre and the Drug Enforcement Agency Museum at 700 Army Navy Drive in Arlington, Va.” [Roll Call]
Flickr pool photo by ksrjghkegkdhgkk
Arlington County officials promoted the Community Energy Plan approved last year in an online video released this week.
The plan, adopted in June 2013 after 15 months of community meetings, was designed to improve energy use through 2050 and set a national standard, County Board Chair Jay Fisette says in the eight- minute clip.
“A community energy plan is the next chapter of Arlington’s sustainability story,” Fisette says.
Officials explain how the county has reduced energy use in public buildings, including in the Central Library, where upgrades to lighting and other technology have cut usage by 25 percent since 2007.
Businesses and homeowners need to do their part, as the private sector accounts for 96 percent of the county’s energy use, said Community Energy Coordinator Rich Dooley.
“We’re looking at potential financial incentive programs for commercial building owners to try to get them to do more energy efficiency and renewable energy projects,” Dooley says.
Last weekend, Arlington County hosted a “life-size board game” that challenged residents to think harder about their energy choices.
The Energy Journey Game was held at Washington-Lee High School on the afternoon of Saturday, Feb. 2. Participants learned strategies for cutting down on energy use during all four seasons.
In an interview with the county’s Arlington TV channel, above, County Board member Jay Fisette hailed the event as a “creative” way to further Arlington “commitment to sustainability.”
“We need to do outreach continually, to bring to people the ideas — the awareness — of how they can save [money] and protect the environment in their everyday behavior,” Fisette said.
Accident Shuts Down GW Parkway — The northbound GW Parkway was closed this morning before Route 123 due to a reported multi-vehicle accident. Northbound traffic was being diverted onto Spout Run Parkway. [WTOP Traffic]
The Origins of Broyhill Forest — In 1952, homes in Broyhill Forest, a planned community adjacent to the Washington Golf and Country Club, went on sale for $19,000 to $27,000. Falls Church News-Press columnist Charlie Clark, a resident of Broyhill Forest, recalls the Broyhill family and their impact on Arlington. [Falls Church News-Press]
Pistol Certification Class at Arlington Church — A local firearms instruction company is offering NRA First Steps Pistol Orientation courses at Bloss Memorial Church in Lyon Park. The course completion certificate can be used to obtain concealed carry permit in Virginia. While classroom instruction is conducted at the church, live fire portions of the class are conducted at the NRA headquarters range in Fairfax. [Liberty Firearms Instruction]
Energy Journey Game on Saturday — Arlington County is organizing an “interactive life-size board game” that offers residents a chance to “challenge yourself on everyday actions that have an energy impact.” The “Energy Journey Game” starts at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday (Feb. 2). [Fresh AIRE]
‘Georgetown Cuddler’ Conviction Overturned — An appeals court has overturned the conviction of Arlington resident Todd M. Thomas, 26, the accused “Georgetown Cuddler.” [Washington Post]
Question: I own an older Arlington home with fairly high utility bills (in my opinion), do you think a home energy audit is a good investment?
I think that you will find a good home energy audit to be well worth the investment. I personally own an Arlington home that is about 6 years old and an energy audit discovered a valuable list of improvements for us to make. I’m happy to report that most were accomplished for little to no money.
Our energy audit cost $400, but has saved us many times that amount of money on gas and electric usage. In fact, I wrote an article earlier this year about how Dominion Power had accidentally switched our account with my neighbor, who owns the exact same house. Once the administrative mess was cleaned up, we were credited almost $1200 for the lower energy consumption of our house.
I spoke with Chris Conway, one of the area’s leading home energy auditors. He confirmed that most improvements are very low cost with a resulting 5%-30% savings on energy bills.
Chris explains that his audits typically include a blower door test and thermographic scan of the home, but the most important benefit of a home energy audit is the homeowner education. He teaches you how to achieve a tight building envelope for a long term return on investment. According to the Department of Energy, 54% of your total energy bill comes from heating and cooling. With the right information you are empowered to make decisions that will provide the biggest bang for your buck.
Though I would recommend a home energy audit for most homes regardless of age, older homes tend to have the most room for improvement. A blower door test will reveal exactly how much conditioned air your home is leaking per hour. In older homes, this is sometimes equivalent to leaving a window or door open 24×7.
Chris recommends an energy audit for anyone interested in making home improvements, improving air quality, saving money on energy bills, increasing comfort, mitigating moisture problems, or reducing your carbon footprint. During our conversation he mentioned a startling fact that recent EPA data states 1 in 5 families have a member with respiratory problems and a typical home can actually have up to 3 to 4 times more contaminants on the inside compared to the outside. A simple home energy audit can address these types of environmental issues.
There are more than a few home energy auditors to choose from in the Arlington area. I spoke to at least half a dozen before choosing someone for my own home. I was curious about their background, education, track-record, equipment, references and philosophies. I also wanted a sense that they would spend time educating me about my home. Feel free to contact me for a list of the local home energy auditors I would recommend.
The cost for a professional home energy audit can range from $150-$600 depending on the depth of the audit and the size of your home. If you are worried about the cost, you can look out for promotions from companies like Everblue and Dominion Power. State funded programs have also existed from time to time.
My final piece of advice is to make a list of any issues you are having, such as rooms that are notoriously drafty, cold, warm or damp. These insights will help the auditor identify the best solutions for your home.
The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.