Local non-profit cutting costs for summer

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A local preservation group now proving even old historic homes and buildings Charleston can increase energy efficiency for summer.

As the sun beats down on Charleston, the heat comes right in to Melissa Nelson's downtown office.

"The afternoon sun comes in most intense on this side of the building so it does tend to heat up," HCF Communications Director Melissa Nelson said.

Now things could cool off just a little, without turning down the thermostat.

The Historic Charleston Foundation is going green, closing the shutters on the south and west sides of the historic James Missroon house on East Bay Street, for the months of July and August to help cut energy costs.

"In such a highly visible area we hope that we are inspiring others who live in the historic district and elsewhere to help with their own savings and by being sustainable," HCF Executive Director Kitty Robinson said.

Closing the shutters at the foundation headquarters is only one part of a much larger sustainability initiative by the HCF and partners the Sustainability Institute and Charleston WISE.

The project includes going into some historic properties in Charleston and determining the energy efficiency and then making recommendations that could lead to retrofits in the home that will also help preserve and protect the homes.

Robinson describes what the energy assessment would include.

"Closing off the light and heat that comes in various sides of the houses during the day, looking for leaks in different pipes and doorways, and looking underneath some of the utility parts of the house," Robinson said.

The foundation didn't have an exact dollar figure on how much money they saved by closing the shutters last year describing the savings as moderate, but the non-profit, who relies on donations and grant money, says every little bit helps.

The HCF will begin the home energy assessments to 25 historic homes starting this month. The project has been paid for with funding from HCF and the South Carolina Energy Office.

South Carolina Electric and Gas shared some tips to cut costs on your summer power bill experts say:

-Set your thermostat to 78 degrees

-Use caulk or weather seal around windows and doors

-Check your air filters monthly and change if dirty

-Get your AC unit serviced if you have not already

-Upgrade your attic insulation to r-38, which is 12-14 inches

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