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Energy Case Studies: Kristin Hoppa, Renter

Kristin does not own the place she lives in. Like many other residents in Santa Barbara, she is a renter, and has limited control and incentive to make energy efficiency improvements in her apartment. Nevertheless, Kristin found opportunities to save money and lessen her environmental footprint with just a few easy changes.

The first items to change were the light bulbs. Knowing that the existing incandescent bulbs in her apartment were incredibly wasteful, she replaced them with more efficient compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs). Not only did her energy use go down, but she found that the rooms were brighter and the lights actually provided a much nicer feel than the ones that came with the apartment. By replacing six 60 watt incandescent bulbs with six 13 watt CFL bulbs (which are equivalent in light output), Kristin reduced her lighting energy consumption by almost 80%. Over the lifetime of one CFL (10,000 hours), Kristin will spend around $27 for electricity and the cost of the bulb. The same amount of usage with her incandescent bulbs would cost her $110 in electricity and bulb replacements. By upgrading, she saves $83!

Next, Kristin focused on the outlets. She used the Community Environmental Council’s “Get Started with Energy Savings” guide, which talked about energy vampires — appliances that suck energy from the walls even when they are off. To slay her own energy vampires, Kristin got power strips for the “energy hubs” in the house, such as her living room, where she has her internet router, lamps, and other entertainment appliances. Plugging all the appliances in the strips was an easy way to turn off all power with the flick of a switch. She also now keeps smaller appliances in the kitchen — such as the toaster oven, coffee grinder, and blender — regularly unplugged when not in use, which she was surprised to find is easy to do.

A victim of poor insulation and single pane windows, the apartment can get pretty cold and is fairly drafty. Despite not being able to make any physical changes as a renter, Kristin found that behavioral changes could help bring about a more comfortable apartment. She found that when the inside is chilly during the day, opening up all the doors and windows to circulate the outside air warms the apartment just as well as the heater. The energy-intensive heater stays on “off” more often now.

Kristin will soon be moving to a new apartment, and her energy-saving techniques will be coming along with her. The first step in her new place will be to test all appliances with a “kill-a-watt” meter. By plugging all of her appliances and electronic devices into to the meter, she can measure kilowatt usage. She can then identify the appliances that are hogging power and replace them with more energy efficient ones.

Over the years, Kristin has become more conscious about how her behaviors affect the environment and resource consumption. She has made it a habit to ride her bike from her downtown apartment to work at UCSB. Now, her car has become almost obsolete, and she hardly ever needs to fill up at the gas station. As an added benefit, Kristin is able to enjoy the Santa Barbara weather while getting exercise on the way to work.

Upgrade your home

The Santa Barbara Earth Day Festival is coming up on April 21 and 22 in Alameda Park. This event is the perfect opportunity to learn how to make changes like this in your own home. We recommend the following stops at the festival:

  • Visit the “Live Green” zone and watch live demos on the “Live Green” Stage to discover ways to make your own changes. View the schedule…
    • Home Nightmares on Saturday April 21, 2:30pm and Sunday April 22, 4:30pm
  • Visit the South County Energy Efficiency Partnership (SCEEP) booth to learn about saving energy. Pick up a free CFL and enter to win a LED in an hourly giveaway.
  • Visit the CEC booth at Earth Day to pick up a “Get Started” guides for energy efficiency tips.
  • Swing through the Eco-Marketplace to purchase eco-friendly products for your home and lifestyle.

Share your story

Have you made similar energy upgrades to your home? Share with us! Send your story to [email protected]

This Post Has One Comment
  1. Kristen is such an encouragement to renters everywhere! Just because renters don’t own their own place does not mean they cannot be involved in reducing energy usage and making a difference in bettering our environment. Everything counts towards the overarching goal!

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