Tracking Energy Use on Durham’s Pennsylvania Avenue

December 21, 2009 at 6:42 pm Leave a comment

Photo: Neighbors in Watts Hospital-Hillandale check out attic insulation.

Since last year, Watts Hospital-Hillandale resident Edie Cohn has been working with neighbors on her block to track their energy use. After gathering and comparing the data, Edie noticed that Erin O’Reilly and her husband Todd Bauers had a much higher electricity bill than their neighbors. Edie, an active member of “Watts Busters,” Watts Hospital-Hillandale’s neighborhood energy group, suggested they use a Power Cost Monitor (a device that allows you to track whole-house electricity use in real time) to figure out why they might be using so much more energy than their neighbors.

Inspired by what they’d learned from comparing their energy use with other block residents, and armed with information from the Power Cost Monitor, Erin and Todd made some strategic investments in home energy efficiency. They then invited everyone from their block over to their house to check out their progress and learn more about the Power Cost Monitor.

Seven neighbors attended and enjoyed seeing the improvements Erin and Todd had made. “I was very impressed with their environmental knowledge,” Edie said. “Just about anything you could name, they’ve done it.” Erin and Todd also showed their neighbors how the Power Cost Monitor works by turning on and off various appliances and recording the resulting electricity use. The Power Cost Monitor showed them that their water heater and clothes dryer were the main culprits in their high energy bills. To tackle the dryer problem, they purchased a Energy Star rated washer that gets the clothes much dryer, reducing their time needed in the dryer to only 20 minutes. They are also considering a tankless water heater to save even more on their electricity bills. To reduce their gas bill, they installed thick attic insulation to reduce their home heating costs.

With some good hints from Erin and Todd, a few neighbors are now borrowing the Power Cost Monitors that Clean Energy Durham lends out. More neighbors plan to hold more meetings to show what they’ve learned and teach more people how to make energy efficiency improvements in their own homes.

Entry filed under: Watts Hospital-Hillandale. Tags: , .

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