Durhamites Stephen and Rebekah Hren will discuss and sign copies of their new book, A Solar Buyer’s Guide for the Home and Office: Navigating the Maze of Solar Options, Incentives, and Installers this Thursday 12/9 at 7pm at the Regulator Bookshop, 720 9th Street. The Hrens will explain varied options for solar electric, solar hot water, and solar heating so that property owners can make the right choices for their energy needs and their financial security. Come support local authors contributing to cleaner safer sources of energy!
The end of the year is fast approaching and we want to make sure you don’t miss your opportunity to receive tax incentives and rebates for energy upgrades. Check out this list of incentives and programs available to residents of Durham County.
Here at Clean Energy Durham we teach about the financial, environmental, and fitness benefits of bicycling. However, many of Durham’s high traffic roads lack facilities for bicycles, which make them uncomfortable and perhaps dangerous for cyclists without a lot of experience. Fortunately, there are alternative routes to avoid these uncomfortable spots. To help people identify these alternatives routes, the City of Durham has published the Durham Bike & Hike Map.
One way to use the map is to look for nearby parallel routes to the normal automobile route. For example, if you commute downtown on Duke and Gregson Street the map highlights Watts Street and the North-South Greenway as bicycle friendly options parallel to these high traffic streets. Also, you can ask a neighbor who rides a bicycle how they avoid a busy street or a daunting hill—likely they will be eager to share their time-tested routes with a neighbor. Free hard copies of the new map are available at Durham City Hall in the Transportation Department (4th floor), local bike shops, and Clean Energy Durham’s office.
This Friday 11/5 through Sunday 11/7 will be the third annual North Carolina Energy Star Qualified Products Sales Tax Holiday. Certain Energy Star qualified appliances purchased during this period will be exempt from the usual sales and use tax (7.75% in Durham County). Here is an all-inclusive list of the Energy Star appliances covered by the exemption:
- Clothes washers
- Freezers and refrigerators
- Central air conditioners and room air conditioners
- Air-source heat pumps and geothermal heat pumps
- Ceiling fans
- Programmable thermostats
Energy Star appliances use up to 50% less energy and water to run than standard appliances. So, if you are in the market for a new appliance, this weekend is the time to act! Also, don’t forget that some of the appliances covered by this tax-free weekend may qualify for additional tax incentives that will run out at the end of the year.
Workshop number two in Forest Hills was a great success! We started with a treasure hunt for incandescent bulbs, replacing them with CFLs. The hunt was followed up by a discussion about safety and quality topics that relate to CFLs.
A neighbor shared a great story about cleaning under his refrigerator coils. Cleaning the fridge coils made his fridge run so much more efficiently that the next day he had to increase the temperature dial because his food was freezing!
Everyone who returned to the workshop had done projects at home since the first workshop. There were 3 neighbors in attendance who were there for the first time. Way to go Forest Hills!
The next Forest Hills workshop will be Nov. 30. We will be teaching weatherstripping, sealing the attic hatch, and cleaning the dryer vent. If you live in Forest Hills and want to come to the workshop, contact Jenny. If you live anywhere in Durham and would like to be a workshop host in your neighborhood, you are also welcome to contact me.
Watts Hospital-Hillandale volunteers offered up their Sunday afternoon to pump, lube, and tune-up their neighbors’ bikes to keep them moving pollution free. Twenty people brought their bikes to get their neighbors’ help and advice. Many of them left knowing how to adjust their brakes, fix a flat, and oil their chain. One of the young participants even got her training wheels taken off and went for her first spin on just two wheels. Thanks to the beautiful day, neighbors hung around to enjoy the bike-blended smoothies and discuss the best bicycle routes while looking over Durham’s excellent new bicycle map. If you are interested in organizing a bicycle event in your neighborhood you can contact Robin.
On E.K. Powe’s bike/walk to school day, bikes filled the racks and students and parents resorted to the school’s trees to lock their bikes. Nancy Kaiser, an E.K. Powe parent and key organizer for this event, is seeking to improve students’ fitness through walking. She is planning on making bike/walk to E.K. Powe a monthly event this school year. As the transportation staff person at Clean Energy Durham, I was at the school entrance talking to parents about how they normally commute to school and providing information about innovative ways to make walking a more regular practice. For example, a walking school bus is a way for parents to share walking duties and build relationships with other parents in their neighborhood.
Later that week we hooked up our bicycle power blenders and set up at George Watts for their bike/walk to school day. Parents were encouraged to walk and bike to school early and come to the school yard where the P.E. teacher, Stephanie Brennan (Coach B.), Janice McCarthy, and Stacy Murphy had food and smoothie supplies ready for hungry walkers and bikers. An estimated 80 people joined us in the schoolyard and it was thrilling to see so many neighborhood families get up early, save fuel, and enjoy the morning together.
This fall we will be following up with parents from both schools, providing them with more information and resources about biking and walking. If you are interested in more details about organizing a walk/bike to school day.
Clean Energy Durham completed the third in a series of “Learn Do Teach Track” workshops in Woodcroft last week. Neighbors gathered at the home of host Abbie-Stuart Fox, where they learned and did energy-saving projects around her home. Each neighbor took a turn sealing leaky windows—folks were amazed at how easy it was to fix leaky windows without costly window replacement! These workshops are so successful because neighbors learn together, do projects, and help share ideas. One neighbor mentioned using a leaf blower to help clear her clogged dryer vent—now that’s creative thinking and sharing!
Thank you Abbie-Stuart for being an energy leader in your Woodcroft neighborhood!
I could see the question coming at the workshop before she asked it. “All these energy saving tips make perfect sense to me. Of course I’ll go home and make sure my fridge is full so it doesn’t have to work so hard. I’ll turn off lights when I leave the room. I’ll look at windows and doors and seal any cracks. I might even track down a refrigerator brush and clean the refrigerator coils. There’s dog hair galore under there forcing my fridge to work harder. But…drumroll…“how do I get my kids to change their habits?”
I breathed a sigh of relief. It’s not just my kid who opens the fridge door and scans the contents, waiting for inspiration to strike. Waiting as cool air streams out the door. Waiting as his mother taps her foot impatiently, hoping THIS time he’ll make a quick decision and close the door. What if l were to walk in his shoes and notice the obstacles? A refrigerator chock-full of food and drink may make it harder to see what’s really in there. What if I organize it better, so he knows the leftovers are on one shelf, the peanut butter and jelly on another, the milk and juice and yogurt on another? What if, gasp, I kept a list on the door and asked him to check that first? I bet if I did that would also help us waste less food, another goal high on my list. I bet if I expend a little more energy organizing the fridge chaos, he’d come along for the ride and get in and out of the fridge more quickly. It’s worth a shot.