By Kate McKeown
I’m hoping that all of you have either dusted off your skis, chosen a good book to read by the fire or have tuned in to watch your favorite sports team. Of course, you’ve already weatherized your home before the snow hit and the temperatures dropped, and that is why you have extra time to do these fun winter activities. But… if by chance you didn’t get around to weatherizing your home, and you live in the Wrangell area, you are in luck. The Alaska Community Development Corporation (Alaska CDC) is offering free or low cost weatherization to Wrangell homeowners. Alaska CDC is currently accepting applications for the free, simple and cost-effective weatherization program. The program consists of analyzing the efficiency of heating systems, including the effectiveness of the current insulation, particularly around windows and doors. It should be noted that there are income requirements that homeowners must meet to partake in the free program. The requirements are geared toward median household incomes, which helps fill the gap between those that apply for the Home Energy Rebate Program and the Weatherization Program, both administered by Alaska Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC). For more information, check out Alaska CDC’s website.
While some Alaskans focus on keeping warm with weatherization techniques, others are focusing on keeping efficient lights on during the long and dark winter days. The city of Delta Junction is currently seeking bids for energy efficient lighting which includes area as well as roadway lighting. Delta Junction received more than $50,000 in Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) funds, which will help in the efforts of this project. The city of Delta Junction wants to see new energy efficient LED fixtures along their roadways rather than the outdated energy wasters that they currently have. The benefits of changing out the old lights will save
taxpayer money, reduce glare and decrease light pollution. All of these benefits were realized through Anchorage’s street lighting change out program, which was completed in 2009.
Another option for keeping warm and being in well lit-conditions this winter is to get out of town! I’ve come to the realization that many Alaskans take off around this time of year to far warmer and sunnier places (read: Hawaii!). As a traveler myself, I’m always concerned with my carbon emissions and energy consumption as I sit on long flights. However, a new era in aviation began last week, diminishing my worries. Last week marked the first time that a commercial flight flew on a blend of algae biofuels. And as Alaskans, we can all be proud of the Alaska Airline Group which announced that, as of last Wednesday, 75 commercial passenger flights in the US are now powered partly by used cooking oil. Other airlines, including Lufthansa, Air New Zealand, and Virgin Atlantic, have also started to experiment with alternative fuels