This weekend we participated in a weatherization barnraising organized by the Cambridge Home Energy Efficiency Team (HEET). No, we weren’t weatherizing an actual barn; neighbors from all over Cambridge got together to help make two homes more energy efficient. We worked on things all over the houses, from installing aerators and low-flow showerheads to insulating. I was on the team that installed programmable thermostats, and Jason helped to insulate electrical outlets and caulk.
It was a great experience. I’d always been intimidated by the idea of installing a programmable thermostat myself, even though I’d read how easy it was (and cheap!). And it really was. It was as easy as detaching two wires from the old thermostat and reattaching them to the new one. (Remember to shut the furnace off first.) Depending on the house, they were either red and white or black and white, and the red/black wire attached to the R terminal and the white wire attached to the W terminal. If this system had included cooling, there would have been a wire for that, too—and the instructions included with the thermostat told us how we’d hook that up—but because it was just heating it was as simple as could be.
At one point we thought we’d done something wrong, because we couldn’t hear the furnace coming on. In frustration, we went to work on the other house, and when we came back later the house was warmer. We’d done it right; the furnace was just so efficient that we couldn’t hear it come on!
By the way, old thermostats contain mercury, so be careful taking them off the wall. And make sure to recycle them afterwards. In Cambridge we don’t have to wait for hazardous waste disposal days, just drop them off at the recycling center.
We already have a programmable thermostat in our current apartment, so I can’t apply my newfound skills there, but if anyone wants help installing one, just let me know!
One thing we can apply to our apartment is Q-lon weatherstripping. The foam weatherstripping we tried last winter seems to have compacted, and we’re feeling drafts around the doors again. This stuff seems more permanent. I can’t wait to see the difference it makes.