MU Extension offers mobile energy education unit

  • Published: Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2016

COLUMBIA, Mo. – A new classroom on wheels is designed to help Missourians better understand home energy efficiency.

The University of Missouri Extension Efficient Energy Education Unit offers a hands-on look at ways to make homes more energy-efficient. MU Extension specialist Bob Broz says the unit will be on display at the MU South Farm Showcase on Oct. 1.

“The mobile unit, made possible through the University of Missouri Extension System, gives homeowners and renters an opportunity to learn different ways they can make their home more efficient, comfortable and less expensive to heat or cool,” Broz says. “They can get ‘hands-on’ experience and consider potential energy loss areas.”

Viewers can see different examples of door, window and insulation walls. Hand-held infrared cameras show how efficient each is and measure air leakage. The walls show examples of rockwool, fiberglass and blown-in insulation and air duct and vent insulation. 

Homeowners can also look at the efficiency of window treatments and different glazed windows. Broz says storm window kits, magnetic window kits, insulated shades and rigid insulation panels are used to demonstrate how homeowners and renters can save money on utility bills.

The unit includes examples of how to properly weather seal a door and the various qualities of doors depending on the materials used to make them.

A wall of 16 lights shows lighting brightness, efficiency and estimated yearly cost. Viewers also can check insulation around electrical sockets and evaluate caulking materials.

The enclosed trailer also features a 5-in-1 weather center with displays showing heat indices, dew point, wind chill, rainfall and storm alerts.

Beyond the hands-on energy efficiency activities, Broz shares some inexpensive ways to save on heat bills:

  • Caulk outside joints where dissimilar materials meet.
  • Weather strip exterior door and window gaps.
  • Install interior storm window kits on single-pane glass.
  • Install attic insulation — if less than 6 inches thick.
  • Insulate older water heaters and set the temperature to 120 to 135 degrees F.
  • Put tight-fitting doors on open fireplaces.
  • Use south-facing windows to collect solar heat.
  • Keep lights clean, and shut them off when not in use.
  • Wear layers of clothing and set back the thermostat when in your home.
  • Involve the whole family in the energy management program.
  • Clean refrigerator coils and remove frost from freezers.
  • Take short showers instead of baths.
  • Upgrade to EnergyStar-efficient appliances.
  • Plant deciduous trees to the south of your house and evergreens on the north.

Call your local extension office to reserve the mobile unit for events.

Writer: Linda Geist

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