Kathy Van Ness has lived in her Brazil, Ind., home for about 16 months. She moved in after downsizing from the farmhouse she and her late husband shared and has decorated every bit of its 1,100 square feet.
It’s just right for her and her cat, Bucky, she said, but, like any home, it has its quirks. It was built in 1942 and has gone through a few renovations that caused some drafty doorways and less-than-ideal lighting. In addition to being uncomfortable, the quirks use more electricity than necessary.
Thanks to a Duke Energy program, she got the quirks fixed for free.
Through the Neighborhood Energy Saver program, Duke Energy invites income-qualified customers in a community to receive free energy-efficiency upgrades. A team will visit the customers’ homes, perform a 30-45 minute energy assessment and install up to 16 energy-saving products like lightbulbs, low-flow shower heads and weather stripping.
Since 2007, the program has helped more than 190,000 Duke Energy customers in six states save up to $135 per year on their bills.
The assessment is simple. For Van Ness, three installers arrived and each inspected different areas of the house to find opportunities to save energy. One of the easiest upgrades was changing lightbulbs – Van Ness’ electric chandelier had eight 40-watt bulbs that the team replaced with 5-watt LED bulbs.
One of the installers, Jason Crimmel, switched the lights on after screwing in the last flame-shaped bulb. “That’s definitely brighter,” he said. “And it’s using a fraction of the electricity just by replacing lightbulbs.”
The installers replaced 12 of Van Ness’ lights, including vanity lights in her bathroom which were switched to a softer LED light that is more energy efficient and flattering. They also replaced her shower head to use less water, installed a switch plate thermometer in her living room to measure the room’s temperature, and replaced weather stripping, which will likely save her the most on her energy bill.
“It definitely helps,” Crimmel said. “That’s the best part of it for me – going into someone’s house and being able to save them $10 a month because that can make a big difference for some people.”
In Van Ness’ neighborhood, nearly 2,000 customers were invited to participate in the Neighborhood Energy Saver program in July.
Qualified customers receive a letter inviting them to schedule an appointment. At first, Van Ness said, she wasn’t sure if she should participate. But after the mayor encouraged her, she’s glad she decided to make an appointment.
“I hope everybody answers the letter,” she said. “There’s a lot of people who could benefit from this.”