Small Changes Yield Big Benefits at Fredericksburg Apartment Complex

Property managers at Madonna House apartments in Fredericksburg have been keeping a close eye on the cost of energy and water for a few years and knew there was plenty of room for improvement in both electricity and water consumption at the complex.

Property Manager Woody Carter was excited when LEAP got in touch about Dominion Energy's Low-Income Weatherization program because he understood the benefits right away. Changing incandescent bulbs to LEDs and installing low flow showerheads on such a large scale - 130 apartments in all - saves a lot of energy and money. At Madonna House that means more money in the tenants' pockets since each resident pays their own individual electric bill.

LEAP staffer Ryan Van Patten, and summer interns Erilen Gomez and Mica Girstantas, recently spent a day installing 522 six-watt LED bulbs, replacing the 600-watt incandescents in the apartments. Each one bedroom apartment received 4 bulbs and two bedroom apartments received 8 bulbs. 78 low flow showerheads were also installed. This simple switch out will save 11,275 kWh per year.

"LEAP walked the Madonna House Management team through all facets of the project. Most importantly the LEAP technicians who came to install the energy efficient items were very polite to our community and caused minimal disturbance," said Woody Carter. "As a company we are hoping to apply this project throughout our communities to reduce the impacts on human health and the environment."
LEAP's Solar Manager, Ryan Van Patten, recently attended career day at Mill Run Elementary in Ashburn. Ryan spent the day talking to seven different 5th-grade classes about how solar works, what it's like to work in solar, and what a clean energy future looks like in Virginia. And of course he brought a solar panel!

We love to talk to students! The success of our clean energy future depends on education and empowerment. Contact us at 434-227-4666 or email Communications & Outreach to discuss a customized presentation for your classroom or other group.
Water Conservation is Energy Conservation
Conserving our limited water supplies is always a good idea, but did you know there is also a direct connection between water and energy use?

Delivering water and wastewater services is an energy-intensive effort, as the water is treated, pumped to our homes and businesses, then pumped to wastewater facilities to be treated again. The EPA estimates 3 to 4 percent of national electricity consumption, equivalent to approximately 56 billion kilowatts (kW), or $4 billion, is used in providing drinking water and wastewater services each year.
As we head into the hot, and sometimes parched, months of the year, here are some simple and smart things that reduce the amount of water wasted in our daily routines for our homes, lawns and gardens.

Wilson’s Quick Tip: 5 Tips for Efficient Air Conditioning
More than 90 percent of U.S. homes have air conditioners that use 6% of electricity produced in this country at an annual cost of $29 billion to homeowners and 117 million metric tons of carbon dioxide released into the environment.

Furthermore, those carbon emissions are predicted to double by 2050 at their current rate. Efficient and judicious air conditioning use is key to mitigating environmental impacts and can reduce your energy costs.

  • Service your unit seasonally. The technician will check for leaks, top off refrigerant level if needed, and change the filter to keep your unit operating as efficiently as possible.

  • Buy ENERGY STAR®. ENERGY STAR® certified central air conditioners have higher seasonal energy efficiency ratio (SEER) ratings of at least 15, and use 8 percent less energy than conventional new models.

  • Bigger is not always better! Buying an air conditioner that is too large does not provide better cooling. An oversized air conditioner is actually less effective and can leave humidity levels high. Ask for detailed information on how the company determined the size when installing a central unit. Try this sizing calculator by for window units.


  • Manage solar gain. Close curtains or blinds and windows to trap cooler morning air in the house. In the evening, open to capture cooler air for the next day.

  • Fans really help! Ceiling fans help circulate air-conditioned air, helping us to feel cooler at higher temperatures and fans use 20 times less energy than air-conditioners.

The most efficient air conditioner available is compromised by a leaky house that lets conditioned air escape to the outside. As with heating, insulation and air sealing are key to maximizing the performance of your cooling system.


-Wilson Ratliff, LEAP Technical Director
In the News
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