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Classes, Kits and Energy Savings for Pinellas County

September 15, 2010 - 5:18pm


Officials of PEEP, the Pinellas Energy Efficiency Project, will start handing out energy kits—filled with CFLs, weather stripping, low-flow shower heads and window insulators—over the next few months to residents who attend special classes. Residents in Pinellas County, Fla., will soon receive the gift that keeps on giving.

It's pretty straightforward: come to one of the classes, learn how to cut energy use and save money — and leave with the materials to make that happen.

"It's more of a holistic approach," says James Stevenson, a conservation specialist with the Pinellas County Extension, a partnership between the University of Florida and Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.

"Our thing is education and getting people to understand how energy is consumed; how energy can be saved; and how the home uses energy," he says.

Creating and saving

The kits are courtesy of an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) of $500,000 from the Recovery Act awarded to the county.  PEEP leaders plan to hand out 600 kits over the next two years.

The first class will be held at the end of September, with more to follow throughout the county.

Part of the grant was used to purchase all the materials for the kits, while the rest is being used to support Stevenson's salary, printing costs and contractor training on green building practices.

Two more jobs will be created because of the grant money, Stevenson says.

A practical present

In the kit, residents will find about 15 CFLS, LEDs, a refrigerator/freezer thermometer and a faucet aerator, which spreads the stream into many little droplets, saving water and reducing splashing.

"You can save hundreds of dollars a year on your electric bill [by implementing these materials]," Stevenson says. "But it's also up to the residents. The materials can't do it on its own."

Poll on bad habits

During the classes, which are taking place across the county of one million, residents will also be polled, using a personal electronic key pad, on their bad energy habits. Sometimes it's easier to admit something when it's anonymous.  At least that's what PEEP thinks when it comes to energy.

Do you leave the lights on when you leave a room? Keep a TV turned on when you are not at home?

Results will then be shared with the class, so the moderators can discuss the dos and don'ts of home energy use.

"A collective shame might work to affect some sort of behavioral change," Stevenson says. "This a county-wide effort in energy consumption reduction."