Tell Us Your UpGrade Story!

We can’t tell the story alone. Hundreds of people living in Athens County, and all over Ohio, are making significant upgrades to their homes, businesses, and lifestyles to reduce their energy use. Share your story, or tell us about your vision for a clean energy transition. We recognize that while energy is a critical component of our everyday lives, there are many ways to take action. Please contact us with your ideas!

UpGrader Testimonies

“After upgrading to ALL LED lighting at our restaurant, we were inspired to do more. We changed dish machine leasing companies to one that offered us an Energy Star-compliant machine. We purchased a small countertop convection oven to use when use of the large oven would be “overkill”. We are looking into the feasibility of installing a “smart” hood motor and sensors so that our cooking hoods run based on need instead of constantly. At home, we now have almost entirely LED bulbs, and are using the water-spray-and-bubble wrap insulation technique on many of our windows.”

Read our story about the upgrade: “Salaam goes LED, invites others to follow suit” – The Athens NEWS

— Hilarie Burhans, co-owner of Restaurant Salaam

“My dream is to have a community energy system for Athens County that uses well placed solar gardens, energy storage and microgrids (real and virtual) to bring solar power to all the people of the county, not just those in or near the city. I don’t expect an off-grid county, but we could be an example of a rural county-scale cooperative energy system that gives equal access and reliable clean power to all, regardless of socio-economic status. If everyone in the county had at least some percentage of their electricity use covered by solar power, that could be the start of a transformation…”

Greg Kramer, Chair and Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering (Ohio University)

My first idea is to produce clotheslines in this region. These products can be made in a green way with harvested wood from the region. A company could install the products and partner with local landlords and social agencies to promote and help install the lines. (Maybe down the road also produce clothes pins.) This would be a win-win for everyone involved. No more using dryers (and all that electricity!) and job creation. One of the biggest drivers of energy use and environmental damage is animal agriculture. Your group could partner with Live Healthy Appalachia and create a media blitz about the benefits of a plant-based diet…. My other suggestion is to plant fruit trees in villages and start classes on the benefits of permaculture, with an emphasis on making DIY rain collection systems.

— Lydia Cunningham, Glouster, Ohio resident and sustainability advocate

I think it would be fantastic to recognize and promote homeowners who are saving energy through thoughtful landscape features. Using strategically placed shade trees, native plants, and perennials, homeowners (and landlords) can virtually eliminate the need for mowing, and can increase the comfort of their homes, all while enriching the beauty of their neighborhood, improving pollination, and saving energy! Spring is a great time to inspire people to a fresh viewpoint about the land around their homes. Added community benefits of encouraging smart landscaping include reduced human and animal exposure to poisonous lawn chemicals, reduced noise pollution from constant mowing, and more free time!

Take a visit to the Village Bakery Cafe, Catalyst Cafe or Della Zona, partners of UpGrade Athens County. Not only do they serve up delicious treats, but Village Bakery is a pioneer in green business practices. They serve local food, generate their own electricity, and they’ve created a way to bake as efficiently as possible.

— Christine Hughes, Business owner (Village Bakery) and conservation advocate

I noticed that the music festivals I was attending, while promoted as ‘green, progressive, transformative events, are still connected to the grid. So I am now taking the steps to start energizing these festivals with renewable power, starting with solar. We officially founded uSolar in March right here in Athens, placing our headquarters and workshop at 34 South Shafer Street.

The first baby step we have taken is to design a small and portable solar powered generator. Capable of 1000 watts, we are currently on tour all around Ohio and even around the entire Midwestern region. Free cell phone charging is our first use of the power when we roll up to these events, giving charges to 8 attendees at a time for the duration of the festival. By charging with renewables, we are connecting people with the solar power that so many have yet to directly use and see results from. They can hold the sunlight in the palm of their hands. And while people are sitting around getting their phone charged, we are educating them about the green revolution!

After a summer of self-promotion, we will begin designing our second prototype, hopefully capable of 5 Kilowatts. Then we will continue down our path to powering a stage, an entire music festival, and all the while leading the charge towards energy independence!

Casimir Galiszewski, co-founder of uSolar

In 2011 I worked with Third Sun Solar to put solar panels on my house. Over the past five years they have generated 35% to 40% of my yearly electric demand. In 2015 I replaced an aging high-efficiency air-source heat pump with a much more efficient geothermal heat pump. This year, 2016, I’m working with them again to expand my installation to satisfy nearly 100% of my electric demand. I’ve been inspired by the examples provided by my fellow citizens as well as scientists and engineers of many disciplines at Ohio University.

— Bruce Tong, Citizen of Athens, Ohio.

We installed a 3.8 kW system on our house two years ago and purchased a hybrid vehicle last summer. Additionally, I rely on my bicycle for most of my local transportation needs. Thanks to the LED light bulb give away I was inspired to replace all bulbs in my house with them. Still have a few CFL in the less used rooms and will change them out as they expire. The newsletters from Upgrade have been inspiring. Thank you!

— Lori Gromen, Citizen of Athens County, Ohio.