Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Energy Evaluation Kits Empower Users

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Energy Evaluation Kits Empower Users

Article excerpt

Byline: Beth Reese Cravey

Even before Carrie Paez checked out a JEA do-it-yourself Home Energy Evaluation Kit from the Southside library where she works, she was unhappy with her refrigerator and with a separate deep freezer.

The refrigerator had to be defrosted every three months; the freezer took up too much space and she did not like having it inside her home.

After she hooked up the energy evaluation kit earlier this year, those appliances' days were numbered.

"I was very, very curious about them," Paez said. "Based on the [evaluation] information, the refrigerator was using almost double the power it needed to. ... The freezer was pulling a lot of power."

So she and her husband had a neighborhood cookout to dispose of their food, replaced the refrigerator with a smaller version and got rid of the freezer.

"We're eating better; we are eating what we make," she said.

The kits, in backpacks made from reclaimed billboard vinyl by Jacksonville's Burro Bags, include special meters and other tools to help residents conduct an energy evaluation in their own home free, along with an instruction manual and a resource book. From February through July, 828 people used the kits to help them save energy in their homes and reduce power bills, according to JEA spokeswoman Gerri Boyce.

For the Paez household, the kit not only changed their eating habits but put more money in their pockets. Their monthly power bill dropped from as much as $250 to $100 - at least until the hot days of summer arrived - and they are using about half the amount of electricity they did a year ago. Paez, who works at the University Park branch library and lives on the Northside, encourages other JEA customers to try an energy kit.

"It's extremely easy," she said. "We made some major changes in my home because of it."

Jamie King, who lives in Julington Creek, said he is also a fan of the kit. …

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