Welcome to our first installment of the Frugal Librarian. It is an empirically proven fact that denizens of this profession possess an uncanny sense of value. In turn, they pass that savings on to you, the consumer.

However, while some folks pinch pennies, this guy has actually been known to cut off the circulation to their extremities. This is his story.

frugallibrarianSomeone was saying something the other day about reducing one’s carbon footprint. I went to my happy place spiritually where I pretend I’m paying attention. When I came out of this trance, they were gone, as was their message about conservation. Shame.

While I am a responsible consumer, I am even more motivated by the massive amount of financial green (huh, see witty the play on words??) I can save with the MidAmerican Energy Audit. Here’s what happened. I called MidAmerican and they made an appointment to dispatch a representative to my house. At no cost, this man went from room to room taking measurements. Next words out of his mouth were, “Want some light bulbs?” “Yes sir. Yes sir, I do.” “How about a new shower head?” “Sounds nifty to me.” Make all the jokes you want about how thick one has to be to not be able to screw in a light bulb. Sometimes they don’t UN-screw safely. Does that punitively affect one’s cognitive credit score?

He also calculated that if I spend roughly another 900 dollars to put more blow-in insulation in my attic, MidAmerican will cut me a check for $600. The savings on the heat bill would pay for my portion of that within one year, he calculated, citing that 85% of a building’s heat loss comes from the top.

In under 40 minutes, with a twitch of his nose, off this jolly magic man went into the chill night. “On reasonably-priced economy sedan!” he bellowed. “Merry savings to all, and to all a warm night!”

October is a great time to get your house ready for winter. You know the drill — have your furnace checked, caulk up those drafty holes, clear out those gutters. But with heating bills sure to rise, it may also be time for an energy audit. In the Quad Cities, Mid-America supplies both gas and electric energy to most homes, but they also offer this service, called EnergyAdvantage Home Check. You do need to make an appointment, but they will come to your home and offer energy-saving suggestions. At my house, the person doing the energy audit not only gave us new lightbulbs and low-flow showerheads, he actually took the time to install them! I don’t know if this is standard service or not, but I was very impressed with this service.

In the meantime, if your looking for other ideas on how to save energy around your house, check out these new titles at the library:

Greening Your Home: Sustainable Options for Every System in Your House by Clayton Bennett. This slim paperback is loaded with ideas for changing your lifestyle, as well as for using new technology (such as low-flow faucets) to save time, energy and money.

50 Simple Steps to Save the Earth from Global Warming is another easy-read paperback with very practical tips. For example, Step #8 – Unplug your chargers. Did you know that 95% of the energy used by mobile phone chargers is wasted? I didn’t.

Energy Crossroads: a Burning Need to Change Course. This is a new DVD that, according to the cover jacket, “comprehensively covers the key aspects of the energy/environment/economy dilemma.”

Ed Begley Jr has been an enviromentalist since it was cool the first time in the late 1960’s. His wife Rachelle knew this about him when she married him, but she also likes style. As the review on the back of the book says “His environmentalism and her design savvy combine to create a guide to going green that keeps the chic in eco-chic”.

In Living Like Ed, Begley discusses how to make your life more efficient and environmentally friendly. In your home this can range from just changing the furnace filters, to using the new energy efficient appliances, to installing state of the art air filtration and purification systems. Begley discusses his transportation hierarchy – walking, biking, public transportation, and electric or hybrid car. His recycling ideas were good reminders to me. Begley makes it a point not to buy products if the recycle number on the product is not accepted for recycling in his area. He also discusses home energy including solar panels and home wind turbines. The book ends with an examination of food and clothes, which was enlightening too.

This fun, accessible book will have you “living like Ed” (to one degree or another) in no time!