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How cool are we? Find out at workshop

By From page A1 | February 03, 2013

Chrissy Backman, a Cool Davis volunteer and an engineer at the Davis Energy Group, will explain smart meters and the PG&E website tools at the Cool Home workshop on Saturday, Feb. 9. Courtesy photo

By Chris Granger and Leslie Crenna

Cool Davis volunteers have been working hard planning a follow-up event to last fall’s annual Cool Davis Festival. The result? This first of what are hoped to be many Cool Home Workshops, which takes place from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9, in the Blanchard Room at the Stephens Branch Library, 315 E. 14th St.

Participants will learn home energy savings and assessment skills, help Cool Davis understand their resource-wise accomplishments and needs through quick surveys and detailed checklists, and chat with home energy experts to better understand their home energy use.

Also planned are activities for children, refreshments and cool home prizes.

Since April 2012, Cool Davis has been helping this community compete in the Cool California Challenge, another effort aimed at reducing our home-based carbon footprint. More than 350 Davis households are signed up and have been logging their energy data and odometer readings to help Davis win the mantle of Coolest City in California.

Davis leads the competition but Tracy, San Jose and Chula Vista are not far behind. The contest wraps up at the end of April, but it’s not too late for new participants to join and log points.

At the Cool Davis Festival last October, Cool California Challenge participants shared stories and barriers to reducing their home energy footprint. Cool Davis volunteer Chrissy Backman reports that participants cited cost of improvements as a factor but also “not being able to change other people’s behavior, or living in an apartment or home with old appliances, single-pane windows, and limited insulation, and … having no control over making changes to the space.”

Despite these difficulties, Backman is hopeful.

“That is the reason Cool Davis is here,” she said. “We want to help households work past these barriers.”

A brochure with suggestions for rental households will be available at Saturday’s workshop.

The event also will feature volunteers on-site with laptops and scanners to help participants upload data for the Cool California Challenge. Current challenge participants should bring their login information to receive assistance. New participants are welcome to join the challenge.

Come with your odometer readings and PG&E energy bills (on paper or on flash drive, from April 2012 to the present). Bring digital photos (and download cable) of odometer readings, efficient or natural lighting in your home, and you — on your bike, taking the bus or train or walking for transportation.

Fill out a survey to help Cool Davis understand your home energy challenges and make use of a Cool Solutions Checklist to win prizes like LED light bulbs, clothes drying racks and succulent plants for your home.

Backman will give a talk about using watt meters to check the efficiency of home appliances plus how to track electricity usage via your PG&E online account. The library will feature home energy materials, including its watt meter lending program, and Chris Jones from Cool California Challenge will talk about the success of the challenge so far and answer any questions.

For a little fun, kids will get to play at the sustainable washing station and meet La Gotita Bonita. Locally prepared food will be served at the event, which aims for zero waste.

For more information or to volunteer, visit www.cooldavis.org or email [email protected].

Special to The Enterprise

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