Saturday, June 11, 2011

The BNEC Energy Savers Kit

Anyone who signs the BNEC Pledge receives a free BNEC Energy Savers Kit. The kit contains several energy conservation “goodies” that can help residents immediately start saving energy. Below is a list of items included in the kit, along with a short rationale for the item:

·         A BNEC reusable shopping bag
o   According to BNEC, it costs cities an average of $0.17 to dispose of one plastic bag
o   Plastic bags are energy intensive and damaging to the environment (see “the Great Pacific Garbage patch”)
·         An outdoor-rated CFL (compact fluorescent light bulb)
o   CFLs use about 70% less energy and last 4 to 10 times longer than what BNEC terms “old-fashioned” incandescent light bulbs
o   Over the life of a CFL (typically 9-10 years), the bulb can save up to $50 in energy savings
·         Draft stopper gaskets (for switches and outlets)
o   Electrical outlets and switches on the exterior of a home often are not insulated and leak in outside air, thereby reducing the effectiveness of a home’s heating/cooling system.
o   The draft stoppers included in the kit are easy to install, and can serve as a great energy conservation educational opportunity for the whole family
·         A first-aid kit
o   This kit is included to show that BNEC cares about residents’ health and safety as well as energy conservation
·         A toilet tank bank
o   This simple tool can substantially reduce the amount of water used in each toilet flush.  Simply filly up the durable bag with water, plop it into the toilet tank, and you will save about a gallon of water every time the toilet is flushed.
·         Light switch decals to remind residents to switch off the lights
o   These decals remind folks in the home to turn off the light-switch when leaving a room.  While this may result in only minimal energy savings, it helps to instill a culture of energy conservation within the household.
·         A Home Energy Savers Guide from the Department of Energy
o   This comprehensive guide shows residents a variety of ways they can save energy in the home.  For the equivalent information online, see

Each kit provided costs BNEC about $6.  BNEC views this as a worthy investment in order to spur reductions in household energy usage.  The free items in the kit also often provide the incentive needed for Baltimore residents to sign up to take the pledge.  Here is a picture of the pledge kit’s items:

Besides the free energy conservation items, the BNEC Energy Savers Kit also contains a list of “Top Ten Actions” list for easy ways to save energy in the home.  The list includes switching all lightbulbs to CFLs, using a programmable thermostat, and using power strips to eliminate vampire power.  A picture of the the “Top Ten Actions” list is included below:

In addition, the BNEC kit also contains information on the “Top Ten Resources” available to folks to save even more energy.  Many of these programs are specifically targeted for folks with limited incomes.  Programs include:
·         The BGE (local Baltimore Utility) Quick Home Energy Check-Up
o   Provides 15 CFLs, 2 faucet aerators, and 1 low-flow showerhead
·         The federal Weatherization Assistance Program
o   Can provide a complete energy efficient retrofit for residents below a certain income level
·         BGE Peak Rewards
o   Provides a free home programmable thermostat if the resident gives BGE permission to briefly suspend the home’s heating/cooling system during periods of peak demand

A picture of the “Top Ten Resources” sheet is included below:

Ultimately, BNEC hopes that the pledge and the accompanying Energy Savers kit help residents change their wasteful energy habits for the long-term.  The BNEC Americorps community organizers follow up with each pledge signatory with a phone call to ask if the resident has any questions regarding the kit or other energy savings opportunities.  However, the level of BNEC support may vary significantly depending on whether the volunteer Energy Captains for the neighborhood are particularly motivated.

For more information regarding BNEC, please e-mail

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