ST. PAULS — Duke Energy is hoping its Neighborhood Energy Saver Program can lower electric bills for about 900 households in St. Pauls.
On Thursday, about 125 income eligible, pre-selected Duke Energy customers gathered at St. Pauls High School for the kickoff of the program that offers free walk-through energy assessments of their homes. The assessments are designed to help customers learn how their homes use energy and how through energy conservation measures monthly electric bills can be lowered.
Evans Taylor, who manages the program for Duke Energy, said that the program has already been offered to Robeson County customers in Maxton, Fairmont and Rowland. Since 2009 ,when the program was initiated, about 30 targeted neighborhoods, consisting of more than 32,000 homes in North Carolina and South Carolina, have been assessed and upgraded with conservation measures, according to Taylor.
“The program has been very successful. In most of the neighborhoods about 80 percent of the residents eligible to participate take part in the program,” Taylor said.
As part of the program, customers in the selected neighborhoods may receive up to 16 energy saving products installed at no cost. They include such things as energy-efficient light bulbs, water-saving shower heads and faucet aerators, air conditioning and heating system filters, switch plate thermometers, weatherstripping, and air conditioner covers.
Taylor said that energy costs to the customer each month includes 43 percent for heating and cooling; 12 percent for hot water; 11 percent for lights; 8 percent for refrigeration; 9 percent for appliances; and 9 percent for computers and other electronics.
According to Taylor, Duke Energy has contracted with Honeywell to do the home energy assessments and install the energy saving products. He said for the next two to three months four two-member teams will be going to every one of the 900 homes in the selected area to conduct the energy assessments, install any needed energy-saving products and talk with the customers about how they can keep their energy bills down.
Participation in the program is free.
“You can expect us on your street,” Taylor said. “You will get a card saying what approximate time we will be there.”
Michael Warren, a Burlington Drive resident, said he definitely plans to participate in the program.
“I already use energy-saving light bulbs,” he said. “Since I started using those bulbs I have seen a savings in my electric bill.”
Gerald Weindel, mayor of St. Pauls, and Robeson County Commissioner Lance Herndon both encouraged those at the kickoff event to participate in the program.
“Listen and ask questions. Tell your neighbors who aren’t here,” Weindel said. “I think this will be a great program.”
“This is a great opportunity to learn about electricity and how it works in your home,” he said.
Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.