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Neighbors Helping Neighbors be Energy Efficient in NC

Photo: Pete Street hands-on training Courtesy: Pete Street and Clean Energy Durham
Photo: Pete Street hands-on training Courtesy: Pete Street and Clean Energy Durham
April 29, 2013

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - As temperatures begin to rise, so do the utility bills of North Carolina residents as they try to cool their home. For the last two years, an increasing number of communities have participated in the Pete Street program. The energy-savings education program offers hands-on workshops in eight communities throughout the state. Chapel Hill recently signed up, said John Richardson, the town's sustainability officer.

"We were looking for ways to connect more citizens with basic energy education opportunities and/or ways to learn about changes they can make to their home themselves," Richardson said.

According to Pete Street, which is part of Clean Energy Durham, residents who attend the program's workshops use an average of 17.5 percent less energy than residents who do not participate. Pete Street organizers reported increased interest since federal stimulus dollars for energy efficiency programs began expiring. They said their workshops are an affordable replacement.

Pete Street also trains members of the community to teach their neighbors how to be more energy-efficient. David Charters is one of the trainers for the program.

"It's a good kind of cross pollination of ideas; in the end, they come up with ways that are straightforward to save energy," Charters said.

Among the tips included in the workshops include cleaning the coils underneath the refrigerator and adding weather stripping to doors. Some participants in the Pete Street program have reported saving as much as $100 a month on their utility bills.

More information can be found at www.petestreet.org.

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - NC