Clean Energy Durham helps NECD save

By Purity Kimaiyo
NCCU Staff Writer
the Durham VOICE

A few lifestyle changes like unplugging electronic appliances when not in use is not only good for the environment but even better for your wallet. Clean Energy Durham is a non-profit organization with a mission of “Moving America toward cleaner, safer energy by creating organizations of neighbors helping neighbors save energy.”

Members of Clean Energy Durham work on a house to make it more energy efficient. (Photo courtesy of Judy Kincaid, Clean Energy Durham Executive Director)

Clean Energy works neighborhood by neighborhood using the cyclical approach to inspire, train, sustain, measure and share. It identifies neighbors with skills and knowledge to share, then matches these people with neighbors who want to learn new skills and knowledge, measure energy use and share results, all while having fun and building the community.

Lenora Smith, Community Outreach Director for Northeast Central Durham says that she recruits people from the community to help her with workshops and meetings and make house to house visits where they give tips to individuals on how to save on energy. Eastway Village and Albright, Cleveland-Holloway, Old Five Points, and houses on Hwy 98 are some of the neighborhoods that have benefited from Clean Energy’s initiatives.

New lighting measures advocated by Clean Energy, such as installing compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) when your older incandescent bulbs burn, can reduce lighting energy use in your home by 50 percent to 75 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Homeowner and Community Outreach Specialist Iris Fisher, who benefited from this program and now helps others, said, “My light bill used to be $125 or $150, it came down to about $75 a month. This was amazing.”

Fisher now conducts workshops to train her neighbors and other residents on how to conserve energy. She changed to energy efficient light bulbs, installed a programmable thermostat and got a better furnace filter.

“I had a power cost monitor connected to my computer  that helped  me know how much kilowatts of Duke energy I consume every month,” said Fisher.  “I even  have a special jar that I put my savings in and this encourages me to save more each month.“

According to Smith, refrigerators, clothes washers and dishwashers churn up the energy that makes up the bulk of your utility bill. Washing only full loads of utensils, setting your thermostat a few degrees lower in the winter and a few degrees higher in the summer helps save on heating and cooling costs.

Washing clothes in cold water whenever possible also saves as much as 85 percent of the energy used. Switching off your computer when not in use saves you a lot, while cleaning the coils in your refrigerator goes a long way.

Clean energy has a transit program coordinated by Robin Michler in which they encourage residents to bike, walk and take the bus. This saves on gas and parking costs while improving your cardiovascular health and reducing your risk of obesity. An upcoming biking event is scheduled to be held in Holton Career and Resource Center.

The Neighborhood Energy Retrofit Program (NERP) works with clean energy to ensure that NECD households in participating neighborhoods reduce energy use through targeted retrofits and conservation education.

Clean energy began its initiative in Northeast Durham in 2008 and one qualifies for this program by being a homeowner and a resident of NECD. It has since covered more than 30 neighborhoods.

Clean Energy Durham is led by Executive Director Judy Kincaid.

Clean Energy in the future hopes to be a national training and resource center for this work. For more information visit or Contact Clean Energy Durham’s Community Outreach Coordinator, Lenora Smith, at

This video showcases the work of Clean Energy Durham.

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