December 'Penn College & You' Explores Home Weatherization

Published 11.27.2002


No one wants to throw cash out the window, but in many homes today, money in the form of costly heating and cooling energy leaks to the outside, a situation that viewers of the "Penn College & You" December episode, "Home Weatherization," will learn how to rectify.

The average U.S. family spends about $1,300 annually on utility bills, with 44 percent of that devoted to heating and cooling costs. To help homeowners reduce those expenses, "Penn College & You" host Tom Speicher traveled to Pennsylvania College of Technology's Weatherization Training Center to interview Larry Armanda, instructional specialist for the WTC.

Taping the show in the 6,000-square-foot weatherization lab allowed Armanda and Speicher to demonstrate how viewers can plug air leaks in their attics the prime site of energy losses and take additional steps to make their homes more energy efficient. The WTC is one of six such facilities in the nation funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Established in 1985 as a result of a partnership with the state Department of Community and Economic Development, the WTC offers courses and special training events. The WTC is a division of the Pennsylvania Housing Resource Center at Penn College under the Technology Transfer Center, which offers noncredit training and workforce development to industry and the general public.

In the December episode of "Penn College & You," Armanda and Speicher help to dispel popular misconceptions about energy efficiency in the home. One mistaken belief, Armanda said, is that newer homes are airtight.

"Believe it or not, they are still very leaky," he said.

Another misconception is that the best thing homeowners can do to lower energy bills is to install weather stripping, gaskets or film on windows.

"Those will help, but, as we look at a building, they are not dynamic," Armanda explained. "They are little cracks, and people will feel these the air coming in the windows; they'll feel them at their receptacles and switches but they are very small holes compared to what's happening in the attic."

In the attic, the air-leak culprits can range from "chases" for electrical wiring and plumbing to the spaces around air ducts. Heated air escaping into a cold attic can cause moisture to form and lead to floor and roof damage, as well as mold and mildew proliferation. Armanda shows viewers how to prevent these problems with just cardboard and insulating foam.

He also explains how regular maintenance to a home furnace can go a long way toward increasing the unit's life span and energy efficiency. An eighth of an inch of soot on the heat exchanger inside the furnace, Armanda notes, can result in a 9-percent increase in a homeowner's utility bill. Dirty furnace filters can cause similar problems, he adds.

The episode begins airing on Dec. 3. In the Williamsport area, the show is broadcast on Tuesdays at 7 and 7:30 p.m. on SusCom Cable Channel 2. It's broadcast nationwide to all DISH Network subscribers on Universityhouse Channel 9411 on the last Saturday and Sunday of the month at 1 p.m. EST. Pennsylvania cable systems airing the show this season are Altoona, Danville/Lewisburg/Milton/Watsontown, Erie, Harrisburg, Hazleton, Lehighton, Mansfield/Wellsboro, Reading, Wilkes-Barre and York.

For more information about the Weatherization Training Center at Penn College, visiton the Web, or call (570) 327-4768.