Weatherization Workshops FAQ

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About the Workshops

What if I need something that is not included in the free weatherization kit?

Workshop participants can request one large item or two small items after they complete the workshop. If you find that some of the materials are not useful in your unique situation, you can trade unused items for something else in the kit. Feel free to stop by the office during business hours to trade or return items and to pick up your bonus items.

Do you follow-up with participants?

Each spring, we make follow up calls and conduct mail surveys to get feedback from workshop participants. This is how we learn about your experience with the materials and using the information from the workshop. We share with our funders and use in the evaluation of our program. We can also give advice you are really stuck on weatherizing that tricky window – but we can’t do it for you! We have faith that you can install the materials on your own. If you have physical difficulty installing materials on your own, then you may qualify for our In-Home Services.

What if I don’t meet the income guidelines or live outside of Portland Metro Area, but am interested in attending a workshop?

Anyone can come to a workshop, just give us a call to register. If you exceed the guidelines (so can’t get a free kit) you can buy some of the materials retail fundraiser. Just drop in during business hours and speak to a staff member.

If you are looking for assistance with “bigger ticket” weatherization for your home, such as insulation, furnace repair/replacement, etc, and meet the income guidelines, you might try calling Multnomah County Weatherization program. If you live in another county, there me a similar program for you. If you don’t qualify for the County weatherization program in your area, you may also try the Energy Trust of Oregon or State Home Oil Weatherization Program for more information on rebates and incentives for making energy efficiency upgrades on your home.

What is a Fix-it Fair?

Fix-it Fairs are a series of three neighborhood events held November-January that offer workshops and exhibits on energy efficiency, healthy homes, yard care, green building and more. Sponsored by City of Portland.

CEP typically provides shorter versions of each of our workshops at Fix-it Fairs, including weatherization. Weatherization supplies are typically not included at the shortened workshop.

Weatherization Materials

Will the adhesive on the window kits remove paint?

This is why it’s important to invest in some “Goo Gone” adhesive remover. If you tug the tracks off, you will likely remove some of the paint. While using adhesive remover reduces the chance of removing paint, there is a chance that paint will still be removed.

It’s always a good idea to check with your landlord before you install if you rent. Most of our clients are renters and are able to install the materials with no problem.

My windows are not white, can I paint the channels and locks? What about door weatherstripping?

You can paint the window locks and channels as well as the door weatherstripping. Acrylic paint tends to scratch off easily, however, so you may want to use silicone-based paint, or other kinds. For door weatherstripping if you want something other than brown or white you can paint it, but be aware that paint reduces the elasticity. A past participant also shared that using brown vinyl tape (similar to electric tape) worked well to disguise the white channel and locks on her wood stained windows.

Don’t CFL’s contain mercury? Are they really safe to use?

Yes, CFL’s contain mercury. They contain about 5 milligrams, about the amount that would cover the tip of a ball-point pen. Older CFL’s used to contain more, but today they contain very little. Mercury is necessary for the bulb to be an efficient light source. No mercury is released when the bulbs are intact or in use.

When your CFL burns out, the conscientious thing to do with it is not to put it in the normal garbage, but to dispose of it as you would normal household hazardous waste, such as paint. In Portland, you should take old CFLs to Metro, or call them to find out about neighborhood collection dates in your area: 503.234.3000

If your CFL Breaks:
1. Open a window and leave the room for 15 minutes or more
2. Put on disposable gloves. Carefully scoop up the fragments and powder with stiff paper or cardboard and place them in a sealable plastic bag. Wipe the area clean with damp paper towels or disposable wet wipes and put them in plastic bag. Do not use a vacuum or broom.
3. Seal everything in a second sealable plastic bag
4. If a bulb breaks on carpet, follow steps above. Sticky tape can also be used to pick up small pieces of glass and powder. If you still need a vacuum, remove the bag after you vacuum, and put the bag in a sealed plastic bag.

With CFL’s, should I turn off the light when I leave my room or not? I heard that it takes more time for CFL’s to heat up, and that they use more energy during this time.

If it’s more efficient in terms of energy use to turn off the light when you leave the room (even for a minute) than to leave the light on – this is true for CFL’s, too. However, turning the light on and off repeatedly decreases the life span of the lightbulb. So, generally, you want to put your CFL’s in places where you leave the lights on for 15 minutes or more at a time. If you put your CFL in a place that you regularly leave on for 2 hours or more, you will get the advantage of both extending the life of your bulb, and saving more energy.

General Energy Questions

I’ve heard that appliacnes draw electrcitiy when they’re not even on. Is that true?

Yes. The term for this is “phantom load.” Most appliances that use electricity, such as VCRs, TVs, stereos, computers, and kitchen appliances continue to draw a small amount of power when they are switched off. It is estimated that in the average home 75% of the electricity used to power home electronics is consumed while the products are turned off!

Unplug appliances when not in use, or even easier, plug appliances into a powerstrip, and simply flip off the switch when not in use. (I use this on my home entertainment system: I plug the TV, stereo, and DVD player into the same powerstrip and flip them all off at night or when I leave the house.)

Can I turn the heat off (rather than down) when I leave the house?

That’s a tricky one. It depends on your house, the temperature outside, and the climate in which you live. Often, turning the heat off in cold weather means that the furnace has to work extra hard to get the house back up to a reasonable temperature when you get back. This often cancels out any energy savings, especially if you are gone for a short time, or the weather outside is extra cold. If the weather is very cold, turning off the heat may leave your pipes more susceptible to freezing. Additionally, in damp climates turning off your heat may encourage mold growth. We recommend just turning the heat down rather than off. For impofrmation better tailored to your home, consider having the Energy Trust of Oregon do a free audit for you.

Other questions?

Call 503.284.6827 ext. 108
Or, e-mail: energy@communityenergyproject.org.