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Durham nonprofit shows how to save energy, money

Posted September 7, 2009

— A Durham nonprofit strives to promote its mission of saving energy and saving money one neighborhood and one house at a time.

Clean Energy Durham aims to save money Clean Energy Durham aims to save money

Homeowner Iris Fisher attended a workshop with Clean Energy Durham last year. She wanted to learn how to cut down on her electric bill.

"We found a lot of opportunity for things we could do around her house that are low- and no-cost things that even someone like Miss Fisher could do herself," the nonprofit's education director Tom Higgins said.

Fisher changed to energy-efficient light bulbs, got a better furnace filter and installed a programmable thermostat.

"This helps save a lot of money, because when there's nobody here, it's not just running," Fisher said of the programmable thermostat.

She also changed the power settings on her computer, so it turns off after a few minutes of inactivity.

Together, all those small measures can add up to big savings, Higgins said.

"We estimate that on average homeowners can save a minimum of 20 percent," he said.

"My light bill used to be $125 or $150. It came down to like $75," Fisher said.

She remembered opening that first smaller electric bill: "I was excited. I even told the kids about it."

Fisher got inspired to encourage her neighbors to try to save money by being more energy efficient.

"Who wants to save money? Everybody wants to save money?" she said.

The InterNeighborhood Council recognized Fisher as a Durham Neighborhood Hero earlier this year.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • SaveEnergyMan Sep 7, 2009

    Most of the savings are probably attributable to the programmable thermostat and perhaps a change in temperature. For reference, using a 25 W CF instead of a 100 W incand bulb saves 54 kWh and about $5 per month (24/7 operation, scales with hours used obviously).

    A computer draws 150-250 Watts, depending on the monitors and other things plugged in. Turning it off could save a lot, but who leaves their computer on 24/7? Another thing that can save money is unplugging those chargers. They use a lot of power when not even connected to their device (which is why they are usually warm when plugged in).

  • superman Sep 7, 2009

    To change the subject a little-- most newer cars have a cabin air filter. The filter is used for the air conditioning. It should be replaced about every year. The air is pulled in under the hood and then into the car. So the filter cleans the air from under the hood going into your car. You can use goggle for instructions on how to replace it. You dont need any tools either. Usally the filter is behind the glove box and release two tabs and the glove box falls down and the air filter is behind the glove box. When you replace it the first time-- you will be compelled to keep check on it-- cause it is really dirty -- leaves, trash, black stuff allover the filter. You wont believe you have been breathing that nasty air. It wont increase your gas mileage-- but it will increase the air flow from the air conditioner and it will be clean air. The filter is about 25.00 and definitely a do it yourself project.

  • superman Sep 7, 2009

    Most people only burn one or two light bulbs at any one time. So changing to a more efficient light bulb is worthless. Changing the furnace filter is good for the furace not sure just how much if any it would save. Time of use and hot water heater timer is your two biggest savings. The other things are so small you probably wouldnt even know the difference. The thermostat would only help if you are not home during the day. It would help if you are not at home during the day.

  • superman Sep 7, 2009

    No way possible that she could change a few light bulbs, adjust the computer and reduce her light bill from 150 to 75. She is in a dream world. Looks like she is old enough that she is probably home all day and changing the thermostat is a waste of money. I am on time-of-use and that helps. We do the laundry and the dishes, run the dryer at off peak hours. The light bubls are very expensive and it will take a couple years to realize any real savings from using them. And then if they burn out they are expensive to replace again. Computer takes little energy and whatever u do-- wont save u much. If you want energy saving tips or suggestions-- you dont have to wait until someone knocks on your door-- use goggle and find out for yourself! I have a timer on my hot water heater. It only runs 2 hours in early morning and 2 hours at night. He didnt even mention a timer on the water heater-- and that is the biggest and best savings for most people.

  • nanasix Sep 7, 2009

    Why aren't these fact put on local and national news, where the info could reach so many that need to know about the medthods of reducing electric bills and have a more efficient home. What's the difference between my termastat that I can set the temp higher when I leave home for the day, and what they're calling progammable termastats? Would be interesting to know.

  • lovecarolinagutters Sep 7, 2009

    i installed a programmable thermostat 2 months ago and have seen a difference in my electric bill. Down about $30.00 from same time last year.

  • JohnB2012 Sep 7, 2009

    I wonder how much of her 20% savings was contributed to the switch to energy-efficient light bulbs? Seems to me changing the furnace filter and using a programmable thermostat would account for the bulk of the 20%.

    In my opinion the energy-efficient light bulbs are not good for America. How many American jobs are generated by using these bulbs. Probably not too many since most, if not all these bulbs are manufactured in China. And to save a few bucks we're going to expose ourselves to to toxic elements? They contain mercury. The government's own Energy Star web site and the bulbs packaging give detailed instrunctions for the "special" procedures if you break a bulb.