Four Questions with Lisa Fahay and Peter Troast

by Wendy Gabriel

Lisa Fahay is a working mom with two kids and a Jack Russell Terrier. About Lisa, Peter and kidsa year ago, she and her husband, Peter Troast, founded the home energy efficiency company EnergyCircle.com. Peter is a serial entrepreneur in the environmental and socially-minded business arena, whose past startups include Moulded Fibre Technology and FetchDog.com. Lisa and Peter have been passionate about the environment for most of their lives. In fact, through a recent Facebook message to Lisa, an old 6th grade friend wrote, “Of course that’s what you’re doing. I remember you yelling at me about cutting up six-pack rings when we were 12!” Lisa is no longer twelve, but she’s still doing her best to get us to think twice about the way we impact the environment in our daily lives. She annotates their home energy usage in real time, which feeds to Twitter at @EnergyCircleKW. Peter muses more seriously on energy issues @EnergyCircle.

1. How do you make your day-to-day life a little greener?

We’ve always been diligent recyclers, composters, organic gardeners, etc. Those efforts remain in habit, but our core focus now is energy use reduction.

2. Recently your company, EnergyCircle.com, launched Moolah Maker, a project aimed at getting kids actively involved in cutting energy consumption. How was this project conceived?

As soon as we started using a real-time electricity monitor in our house (TED, The Energy Detective), the entire family started to engage. It made a huge difference in our utility bills. Giving the kids incentives just made sense. (Now the teenager doesn’t IRON his clothes in the dryer!) MOOLAH MAKER makes it fun and easy to track the deals parents and kids make. And how cool is it to invoice Mom and Dad?

3. Your website is full of great tips for energy efficiency. Is there an easy energy saver that most people overlook?

We’re firm believers in a comprehensive energy audit as the starting point. That way, you have a master plan for reducing energy use & buttoning up your home. Even though it will take time to accomplish, you will move down a logical path. There is a lot you can do before you get the low-down from a pro. Again, the power of a real-time electricity monitor is huge. Start there. Then go for the low-cost no-brainers like energy-efficient lighting, smart strips to control vampire power and programmable thermostats.

4. I love how you end the About Us page on your site: When we are at home, we are entrepreneurs, activists, writers, partners, parents and handymen. When we are at work, we are dreamers, hoping to make the world better and cleaner, one house at a time. What has been your biggest challenge making your own home better and cleaner?

Our audit found that our house leaks a lot of air, in spite of a recent addition done by a competent architect and builder. Getting that leakage down is our big challenge. Air sealing is one of the least sexy things you can do but it makes a huge difference. At Energy Circle, we’ve sussed out the great products. Even I, with no chrome thumb, am getting into the projects. (I’ve fallen in love with my caulking gun!) Caulking and foaming will make our house more comfortable, reduce our costs, and cut back our carbon footprint.

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