Energy Excess

The community of Bartlett learned the hard way that higher temperatures can leave you in the dark. John Barzano said he and his wife, Diane, felt the fallout from power overuse this weekend, "we had a power outage for about two and a half hours."

Memphis Light, Gas and Water confirmed a power surge in the Bartlett area caused the outage.

Energy efficiency expert Walter Nelms of Engineered Comfort took a close look at how the Barzanos could best conserve energy.

"They're doing a good job by using their fans and keeping their thermostat above 78", he said.

However, a trip to the attic uncovered the number one energy waste problem found in our region: duct leakage. Nelms said duct leakage strains your cooling and heating system, raises energy bills, and brings dust into your house. He says our population will soon outgrowing our power supply, so the federal government is raising standards on air conditioner and heating equipment efficiency by January 2006. That is when the U.S. Department of Energy will implement a higher 13 SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio) standard for residential air conditioners and heat pumps. Tennessee is currently under a 1992 model energy code with a 10 SEER standard, but Nelms said there are no inspection and testing procedures to make sure builders follow the standard in our region. He thinks it is more important for the government to make an effort to mandate duct leakage.

"That would save the same amount of energy, if not more."

While the Barzanos are doing more than most to save energy, they plan to make the investment to seal their duct now and save more in the longrun. John Barzano said he actually looks forward to seeing how it will reflect on his next utility bill.

"From what I was told I can get return from my investment in a year or so and when you have that, I think you win."