By Frank Kourt
Energy – its efficient uses, its conservation and even its dangers, was the subject of the Madison County Energy Expo held Saturday at the Madison County Cooperative Extension Office in Richmond.
The event, open free-of-charge to interested members of the public, included 18 booths staffed by organizations that provide energy-related products and services, ranging from Lowe’s Home Improvement to the Kentucky Solar Partnership.
Also represented were community organizations, including Madison County Extension Homemakers, the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, EKU Sustainability, Home Energy Partners, the Richmond-Madison County Recycling Center, the Madison County Quilt Trail and others.
Many of the exhibits offered giveaways, ranging from pens and pencils to foam light-switch and outlet-plug gaskets to increase energy efficiency. Some even had games that awarded small prizes, such as ice scrapers, refrigerator magnets and jar openers.
There were interactive craft projects for the kids in attendance, and many tips for saving on energy costs were offered by the organizations represented.
The one-on-one format gave attendees the opportunity to ask questions of the various vendors and community groups.
According to Gina Noe, Cooperative Extension Agent for Family and Consumer Sciences, this was the Expo’s third year.
Noe said the event’s main purpose was to educate the public about saving money through increased home energy efficiency, increasing awareness of environmentally friendly forms of energy. It also was an opportunity for local businesses and organizations to present their energy-related products and services.
In addition to the displays and booths, the event included a dozen workshops designed to educate people on topics ranging from 10 simple, inexpensive things homeowners can do to save energy, to getting the most from your wood-burning dollars and basic chainsaw use, safety and maintenance, to building and maintaining a rain garden and using rain barrels to take advantage of rain water.
There were even workshops exploring renewable energy sources such as solar electric/solar-thermal, wind turbines and micro-hydo turbines for homes and farms presented by the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development (MACED).
Among the most dramatic features of the day was an outdoor demonstration by Blue Grass Energy graphically illustrating why people should never approach, let alone touch, a downed power line.
Door prizes, such as a shop vac and weather radio, offered by some of the participating businesses, and two $200 gift cards provided by the Cooperative Extension, were part of the fun.