Posts filed under ‘Neighborhoods’
Check out the recent press we received at a workshop we conducted in Northeast Central Durham. Kudos to our two volunteer trainers, David Charters and Jim Wisner, for doing such a great job!
The thought of installing and maintaining solar panels is one that can frighten or may be under the radar of many homeowners. Not for John and Hildy Lindsey, who live in American Village. After always wanting to generate her own power, promote clean energy, and save energy, Hildy told us that they began installing the on-roof solar panels in January of this year and were finished less than a week later. Even after installing only a couple of panels, the couple was saving significantly on their energy bill, which is now totaling only $48. Not only can homeowners save energy, save money, and lower their carbon footprint, but many people don’t realize that solar panels are low maintenance, include a return on investment, increase the home and property value, and require no additional charges to the energy company.
Here’s the best part: subsidies can cover a significant portion of the price of solar panel purchase and installation. Increasing numbers of energy companies have rebate and incentive programs to assist homeowners in installing solar panels. North Carolina provided a 35% tax credit and there is a 30% federal tax credit. When asked if she had any advice for others thinking about installing solar power, Hildy said, “It’s something we have to do as a society. More people need to work together and the prices will decrease for installing solar panels and working with them.” And she’s right.
Finally, Hildy told us that the most rewarding part about having solar panels was watching their power use go down and knowing how much they’ve saved. The couple plans on installing many more solar panels next year
-Paige Newman, Clean Energy Durham intern
During Bull City Open Streets, Driver Street, from Southgate to Ashe, will be closed to vehicle traffic, and OPEN to all on foot, bike, skate, etc. There will be a bike rodeo for kids (4-5pm)—they will learn basic bike safety skills. Check out the Durham police K-9 dogs, and grab a tasty and refreshing bike blended smoothie! There will also be a zumba class, drumming performance, demonstrations of African dance, and demonstrations of skateboard tricks. But wait, wait, there’s more…there will be a Kids Zone, where at 5pm we will have a contest for the kids in: jump ropes, hula hoops, dance off, and basketball hoops. Kids can enter a drawing to win a bike!
We love hearing when neighbors have done household projects to decrease their utility bills. Here is a recent email that Gary in Watts Hospital-Hillandale sent to his neighbors.
I just wanted to pass this on. I recently had to replace an obviously leaking toilet and found out that the City offers some real incentives to do so. First is the $100 credit towards the new toilet. The new toilet has to be a brand and model that is: (a) a high-efficiency toilet (1.28 gallons per flush or less, a.k.a. ‘HET’), and (b) on the list that Durham City keeps of qualifying toilets. It’s real—as I purchased a qualifying model at Home Depot that cost me $117, netting me only a $17.00 replacement cost. In addition, since my old toilet was leaky and it led to a higher than normal water bill, the City retroactively refunded a portion of my water bill. All I had to do was demonstrate that I replaced a leaky toilet and they verified that next month’s bill went down considerably—in my case it was an almost $100 refund!
You do have to keep track of your receipt for the qualifying new toilet and fill out the forms (I think they can only be done by hand) and personally take them down to City Hall, but it was certainly worth it for me.
Leaky toilets are often times hard to detect. According to a site I was reading recently, leaks account for over 13% of daily water usage in this country. Also, replacing a toilet is a pretty easy to do plumbing task—and you should always know what is going on underneath your toilet. The City’s site has instructions for replacement and of course there is YouTube for instructional videos. You can contact the City at 919-560-4381 or visit the website here or here.
Check out this recent email we got from a neighbor in Durham:
My house is all-electric, so a gas tank or tankless water heater approach was not an option. And my roof doesn’t get enough sun to go the solar route. What I ended up with is a retrofit heat pump water heater. I bought an Airgenerate AirTap heat pump unit from Lowe’s. The unit is fitted to an existing hot water tank. You can use the electric or gas heater for the tank as backup, or turn it off completely and rely only on the AirTap only. I went the retrofit route, rather than a standard heat pump or hybrid heat pump unit because it had to go in my crawl space and most standard units are too tall—so I side-mounted the AirTap to a low boy water heater.
It’s working great so far, in that I haven’t had any problems and have had enough hot water (with the tank turned off). Airgenerate claims the AirTap is better than gas and as good as solar (but cheaper than solar to install).
I haven’t done it yet, but the cool, dehumidified air it produces can be redirected to the air conditioning duct work to help out the air conditioning. For the same reason, you do not want the unit in a conditioned part of the house unless the cool air can be vented to outside during the heating season.
Thanks Judy, we love getting feedback from neighbors that can benefit the whole community! If you have questions or want to be connected to Judy contact us at Clean Energy Durham or call 919-323-3244.
Seven new Bicycle Transportation Trainers recently graduated from Clean Energy Durham’s training program, which equips them to train neighbors and community members about bike transportation, maintenance, and safety. The Trainers also learn about organizing fun, educational neighborhood events to get their neighbors pedaling to work, for exercise, to save money, and the sheer joy of riding a bike. Bicycle Transportation Trainers go through 14 hours of training where they learn basic maintenance skills: fixing flats, adjusting brakes, fine-tuning gears, etc. In addition, they learn outdoor biking skills, such as quick stop, rock dodge, and instant turns.
Congratulations to our latest Bicycle Transportation Trainers: Gretchen Gehrke and Joanne Fairhurst from Morehead Hill, Janet Hitti and Michael Brooks from Parkwood, Debbie West and Brandon Jozwiak from Woodcroft and Scott Rodgers from Hope Valley North. (more…)
Listen to what a neighbor had to say about a workshop in Watts-Hospital Hillandale recently:
I wanted to share some of the home energy-saving tips I learned at the DIY Energy-Saving workshop at Liz Sappenfield’s home. We talked about how energy is lost in the home with simple, easy-to-understand explanations, and then made actual repairs around Liz’s home. It was a great way to learn how to limit waste!
Proper insulation in the attic is one of the biggest ways to save energy in the home, but we also learned that one large source of energy waste comes from air leaking in and out of the house through cracks in the wall and around windows, doors, and access to the attic. We also learned that one very easy in-home fix is purchasing a programmable thermostat, which will control the temperature of your home automatically to save energy.
Thanks to the volunteers, to Liz for being a generous host, and to everyone that came to provide their own energy-saving tips.
- Doug Garrison, Hands-On Workshop Attendee
Ms. Mary Odom heard about the Neighborhood Energy Retrofit Program (NERP) from her neighbor, but she didn’t qualify for the program because she had a gas heater that she used for emergencies and she wanted to keep it. Ms. Odom had a Hands-On Workshop in her home where volunteers demonstrated several low-cost and no-cost energy-saving techniques. Ms. Odom requested her free compact fluorescent light bulbs from Duke Energy and she made sure to turn off all of her lights and unplug her appliances when she wasn’t using them. Ms. Odom told Clean Energy Durham,
“The energy program is a blessing because when I got the information about this extra savings strategy that’s how I realized the savings. It was good to talk about the [power] strips because I did not know about that, and I did not know that I was supposed to clean the refrigerator coils or the dryer vent. It was good to learn all of that and after a while, you become conscious of it. This month I used 674 kWh and last year I used 752 kWh during the same month. My average energy bill was usually $150-200 month in the summertime and last month it was $61.83. Since I made the low cost repairs, my bill has not been more than $90. You see how it changed, don’t you? By changing my habits and applying the no cost techniques on how to save energy, that has helped me a lot. Even in the hottest months I did not go to $100. To me that was a blessing. It gives me extra money to do something else with—I bought a camera last time.”
On September 10th the Crest Street neighborhood was filled with sun, music, dance, biking children and plenty of smiles! This year, Bull City Open Streets helped close off the streets to car traffic and provide activities for this annual Community Day. Ten kids’ bikes were fixed up, and 15 free bike helmets found new owners with the help of Hal from Durham Bike Co-op. Whole Foods helped with the fruit smoothies spun by the Clean Energy Durham bike smoothie stand.
Interested in having open streets incorporated into your neighborhood event? Please contact email@example.com
On a recent Saturday in August, Durham bike owners got a helping hand with free bike tune-ups and advice. While tuning-up bikes, neighbors got a chance to catch up with each other on summer happenings, and children played together in the park.
A big thank you to everyone who showed up at Oval Park. One or two bikes were even miraculously revived from the dead! An even bigger thank you goes out to the fantastic volunteers who put together their tools, time, energy, and even wit to make this a successful event.
Interested in promoting biking in your neighborhood through this kind of event? Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.