Anyone who is not convinced that there really is a difference in energy efficiency can try pedaling a bike that allows them to not just hear about the facts, but feel them.

Visitors to the Department of Environmental Protection's new "DEP at Home" exhibit at the Pennsylvania Farm Show can ride a bike to turn on light bulbs. It is much harder to pedal to get the incandescent light bulbs to illuminate because they are less energy efficient, said Ann Devine, an environmental educator with DEP. Pedaling to turn on the LED lights is much easier, she explained.

The bike was the most popular part of the DEP at Home exhibit over the weekend, Devine said. Set up in the Main Hall to look like a home structure, the DEP at Home exhibit is an interactive and educational stand promoting energy efficiency and sustainable building materials.

It has a bathroom and laundry area, kitchen and living room with d├ęcor, appliances and building materials that add more energy efficiency to a home. The design also promotes water conservation, radon awareness, air quality and other staples of environmental awareness.

The bicycle is part of the stand's simulated outdoor space with a dog house with green roofing.

In accordance with the "Made in PA. It Makes a Difference" theme of the 97th Pennsylvania Farm Show, the DEP exhibit is also endorsing Pennsylvania-produced products for the home.

Some of the products incorporated in the exhibit include fiber cement siding from Chester County, cork flooring from Lancaster County, an Energy Star window from Westmoreland County, and insulation made in Erie County and Lehigh County.

Representatives from the companies were on hand Sunday afternoon to answer visitor questions about the donated products and to offer energy-efficiency tips.

Switching from incandescent light bulbs to LED light bulbs is one of the first and easiest steps to take to make your home more energy efficient, said Devine.

Michael Buchwach with the DEP, left, points as Peyton Black, 6 of Biglerville lights an LED bulb by pedaling an electricity producing bicycle at the
Michael Buchwach with the DEP, left, points as Peyton Black, 6 of Biglerville lights an LED bulb by pedaling an electricity producing bicycle at the Department of Environmental Protection's "DEP at Home" display at the 97th Pennsylvania Farm Show. (John A. Pavoncello photo)

Checking for ceiling leaks and other air leaks in your home can also help to cut down your heating and air conditioning bills, she said.

Sometimes adding more insulation will also result in improved energy efficiency in a home, said Devine, adding that what matters is being aware and evaluating your home on a regular basis to see if changes are necessary.

The DEP received funding from the United States Department of Energy for the exhibit, said Devine.

The department had a similar theme at its farm show stand last year, and it is also timed well with the month of January being Radon Awareness Month, she said.

To check homes for radon, people can order a free kit from the American Lung Association or purchase one for a low price at a local hardware store, said Devine.

Anyone interested in learning more about radon can check out the next DEP webinar on radon awareness from 7 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 16. DEP offers quarterly webinars to teach families ways to implement energy-efficient and environmentally friendly practices at home. For more information or to register for the webinar, visit www.dep.state.pa.us.

- Reach Chelsea Shank at cshank@yorkdispatch.com.