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Sunday, April 22 Opinion

Moving Forward, Looking Back: Salute Fairfield's 375-year heritage by ensuring its future

Fairfield turns 375 this year. Only a tiny fraction of existing communities in the United States can claim to be as old. As Fairfield heads into the latter years of its fourth century, we can take a considerable amount of pride. There are plenty of other Fairfields scattered around the country, but we, good people, are No. 1, the Mother of All Fairfields. Imitated, but never duplicated.

Here are a few suggestions for honoring Fairfield's past:

Visit the superb, family friendly exhibit at the Fairfield Museum and History Center, "Creating Community: Exploring 375 Years of Our Past." It's a must-see.

Visit some of Fairfield's many historic sites.

Check the town website for events related to the 375th celebration.

Fairfield has come a long way, having evolved into a 21st-century suburban community with all the attendant advantages and problems. It also has a long future ahead, and it's up to us to keep Fairfield on a solid path. Fairfield's future will some day become its history, and we want that story, as yet unwritten, to be one we can be proud of.

So here's a Fairfield birthday gift idea to honor its future, a gift that will keep on giving for years to come. The best part about this gift is that it's a gift to you, too. Celebrate Fairfield's 375th birthday by taking the Fairfield Energy Challenge.

The Fairfield Energy Challenge is being issued through a partnership between the Town of Fairfield, its Clean Energy Task Force, and the nonprofit organization Live Green Connecticut. The community challenge is to have at least 375 Fairfield homes sign up for an expert home energy assessment this year, by the time of Fairfield Earth Day in late April. In years past, well over 1,000 homes have had assessments, but with about 20,000 homes in town, there's plenty of opportunity to improve upon that figure.

The success of the community challenge will depend on the sum total of individual homeowners (and renters) signing up. That's right, I mean you. Do you think your home is as energy-efficient as it could be? With all due respect, it's almost certain that it isn't. You likely have sneaky drafts, leaky ducts, and creaky appliances. You've likely got old-fashioned illumination and outdated insulation. Your carbon footprint is growing like your teenager's sneaker size while you let hundreds of dollars of energy costs escape into the atmosphere without doing you a nickel's worth of good. You can buy a lot of sneakers with that money!

The town itself has made major strides in improving the efficiency of its facilities and equipment. Fairfield is setting an example for the rest of the state, and collectively, we can make a huge difference.

Let me briefly tell you about the home energy assessments. They're conducted through a utilities-supported program called Home Energy Solutions. For a nominal cost (or even no cost if you qualify), certified technicians visit your home and make a comprehensive assessment of your home's energy efficiency. Problems like duct leaks and failed caulking are detected and fixed on the spot. Old incandescent light bulbs are replaced with new-generation, high-efficiency bulbs at no extra cost. A thorough report makes recommendations about your furnace, hot water heater, appliances, and insulation, and informs you of valuable rebate programs. Most home energy assessments result in higher energy efficiency, real energy savings, and a more comfortable home.

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Convinced? Of course you are. Here's what you can do:

Attend the Fairfield Energy Challenge launch on Tuesday, April 1, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Fairfield Accelerator & Mentoring Enterprise, 1499 Post Road, (upper deck entrance on Sherman Street). You can learn about how the home-energy assessments work. Also, experts will speak about a variety of cost-saving and energy-saving measures that homeowners can take. Homeowners who have had assessments will share their experiences. Did I mention that there will be refreshments?

If you can't make this event, you can learn about home energy assessments, and sign up for one, by checking out http://energizect.com/residents/programs/home-energy-solutions-core-services.

While we await the transformation of our energy supply to renewable sources like solar and wind, taking simple steps to use less non-renewable, greenhouse-gas releasing, air-polluting energy is a powerful strategy. The term "no-brainer" comes to mind.

You can say "Happy Birthday, Fairfield" by helping to keep its air clean, by helping to reduce the chances of a brownout or blackout at peak energy demand times, and by sending less greenhouse gas into the atmosphere. You can help Fairfield continue to be a great place to live for the next 375 years.

Ron Blumenfeld is a Fairfield writer and retired pediatrician. His "Moving Forward, Looking Back" appears periodically. He can be reached at: rblumen2@gmail.com.