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What happens when you change 18,000 light bulbs?

Since 2003, the Consumer Education Program for Residential Energy Efficiency (CEPREE) has been an ongoing partnership between the Department of Design and Environmental Analysis (DEA) at Cornell and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).  NYSERDA is responsible for improving energy efficiency in all sectors of the electricity and heating fuel markets and CCE has a statewide network of educators who provide education on energy efficiency techniques and behaviors to residents in every county.

 “CEPREE has been a successful partnership with NYSERDA because of the creativity of Extension Educators and the knowledge they have of their communities,” says DEA Professor Joe Laquatra, who leads the program with DEA Extension Associate Mark Pierce.

  CEPREE's energy bike demonstration

Jefferson County CCE Educator Jerry Loch began working with CEPREE about five years ago at the same time he was conducting EmPower NY workshops (now HeatSmart NY) for residents at Fort Drum.  Educating families and the Mountain Community Homes (MCH) staff, managers of on-post housing for the U.S. Army, about energy efficiency measures and behavior changes presented an opportunity to develop a working partnership with MCH.  As part of this effort, Jerry conducted train-the-trainer workshops for the MCH maintenance staff who then provided informal training with the residents when they visited homes for scheduled or emergency maintenance.

In 2006, MCH management asked Jerry to research the best way to replace approximately 18,000 incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps (CFL).  A CFL uses about 75% less energy and lasts 10 times longer than an ordinary light bulb; hopefully, the potential savings would be worth the effort.  In fact, in tracking the changes over a six-month period, there was a reduction in electricity use equal to a savings of over $400,000 per year and a 17% reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Specific data on the project was published in a Journal of Extension article, The Consumer Education Program for Residential Energy Efficiency by Dr. Laquatra, Mark Pierce and Nicholas Helmholdt.

Currently, CEPREE has been implemented in 44 counties, including NYC. Homeowners attending CEPREE workshops are encouraged to participate in the Home Performance with Energy Star® program. The Energy Bike (pictured above) is a unique demonstration that is also part of CEPREE.  People who try it find that it takes much more pedaling (energy) to power up an incandescent bulb as opposed to a CFL.  

Jerry Loch states, “There is a great deal of mythology regarding things like temperature setbacks, laundry and lighting”.  Here are some examples: 

Myth:  Leaving a light on uses less energy than turning it on and off.  Truth: Leaving any light on uses more energy than turning it on only when needed. 

Myth: Temperature setbacks at night will result in using more energy to heat up a cold room in the morning than keeping a constant temperature in a room.  Truth: It takes less energy to warm up a cold room than to maintain a constant temperature all night.  

Myth: The higher you set your thermostat, the faster your room will heat up.  Truth: A thermostat starts or stops heat and it will take the same amount of time to heat a room to 70° F if the thermostat is set at 70 or 90.  The problem is that you might forget to reset the thermostat to 70 and that would waste energy.

For more information on CEPREE visit: Consumer Education Program for Residential Energy Efficiency.

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