Green energy tool kits an instant hit at Edmonton Public Library

Hundreds of people are currently on a waiting list for the Edmonton Public Library's hottest new item — and it's not the latest teen romance novel.

400 people on a wait list for the kits, which test home energy efficiency

City of Edmonton environmental engagement coordinator Robyn Webb holds an infra-red thermometer, one of the gadgets available in the Edmonton Public Library's new Green Home Energy Toolkit. (CBC)

Hundreds of people are currently on a waiting list for the Edmonton Public Library's hottest new item — and it's not the latest teen romance novel.

Around 400 people are waiting to get their hands on one of 16 Green Home Energy Tool Kits, available at EPL branches across the city.

The kits offer tools, tests and information to help measure your household energy use.

Other communities in North America, like Red Deer, already offer similar kits.

EPL stocks green living and home guides, but wanted to offer something "a little more hands on," said Robyn Webb, an environmental engagement coordinator with the City of Edmonton.

'We tried to make it as easy as possible'

The kit contains an instruction booklet and some handy tools for measuring energy efficiency, such as an infrared thermometer, a kilowatt meter and an LED lightbulb you can use to compare energy savings against an incandescent bulb. 

"We tried to make it as easy as possible," Webb said.

"We took all the instructions from the different tools and integrated them into this book here that also will help you interpret some of the results of what you're seeing."

Kit users can use the infrared thermometer to detect air leakages around doors and windows, or other places where drafts and frost can occur, Webb said. A colour meter on the device will show temperature differences between different surfaces.

Some people aren't quite convinced there's a huge difference. There really is.- Robyn Webb, City of Edmonton

"I live in an old heritage building, (and) I took this to my house to do a little test," Webb said. 

"I could see ... the thresholds around my windows and doors are pretty leaky. At one point we were checking and it got down to 1 C where the window sort of meets the windowsill.

"We were aware our that our windows weren't performing very well. This just helps people really understand what's going on. 

"Some people aren't quite convinced there's a huge difference. There really is."

The kilowatt meter can determine whether electrical appliances are working efficiently, Webb said.

Used with the LED bulb in a lamp, it can show how power and heat differs from a incandescent or fluorescent bulb. 

The kit's instruction booklet is also very user-friendly, Webb said.

Since stocking the kits in January, they've been so popular at EPL that the city is considering investing in more of them, she added. 

A DIY way of saving energy in your home

The kit is mostly aimed at DIYers who can use it to find ways to save energy in their homes — things like putting up weather stripping and plastic over windows.

But Webb said the kit is meant only as a starting point and isn't meant to replace an official energy audit.

"If you use some of these tools and realize your house isn't performing very well, then get in touch with a certified energy advisor and get them to do a really official audit of your home," Webb said.

"This is kind of a first step in informing people," she said.

"They can take some of the interventions they can do themselves, then move on to the larger things, like insulating your walls or getting new windows."


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