CALPIRG helps homes save energy

by Hannah Beausang

04_16_13_News_CALPRIGEnergy_David Braun-Go West FotoCALPIRG Energy Service Corps, an on-campus student organization created by AmeriCorps and CALPIRG, is dedicated to spreading the word about energy efficiency in the home.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, household and commercial building energy consumption account for approximately 40 percent of total U.S. energy usage.

San Diego State CALPIRG campus organizer Aaron Hussman said the organization helps homeowners create viable solutions for saving energy and money.

“As an organization, we think that one of the biggest keys to solving our energy issues is to start with simple things at home,” Hussman said.

In an effort to promote sustainability and cultivate learning, the organization reached out to thousands of K-12 students and hopes to educate by the end of the school year, Hussman said.

“We want future generations to have energy efficiency be the norm,” Hussman said. “We want them to go home and take those tips to their families that day to start making an immediate impact.”

The organization conducts door-to-door home energy surveys and personally tailored recommendations about how to conserve energy and cut costs. Afterward, the group does periodic follow-ups to monitor the effectiveness of the suggested changes.

Additionally, the group helps home and apartment owners complete simple energy upgrades, such as insulating doors, windows and hot water heaters or changing old lightbulbs.

This spring break, 15 CALPIRG students from SDSU traveled to South Lake Tahoe to teach approximately 2,000 children at four schools. Using curriculum developed by the U.S. Department of Energy, the group educated children through the use of interactive games.

“It was a great opportunity for SDSU students to give back to another community and to engage them in a sustainable dialogue,” Hussman said. “I see the measurable effects that we’re making right away and it’s definitely been a really great credit to the students to show that they are committed to energy efficiency and sustainability.”

The group also worked with Lake Tahoe homeowners to weatherize their dwellings and optimize energy efficiency.

Student AmeriCorps member and business administration junior Ashley Henry went to South Lake Tahoe during spring break and said the group was able to make a positive impact on the community.

“It was cool to be able help people out in the long run,” Henry said. “It’s a series of really passionate students who came out for this and put in their own time and efforts to help.”

CALPIRG member and economics junior Rafael Guerrero said the organization works hard to promote suitability, both locally and in other communities.

“We believe in the cause,” Guerrero said. “We try to do the best to help protect the public interest.”

This is the organization’s first year on campus and there are currently 25 interns and 100 volunteers. The group plans to continue increasing membership to make an impact on the community. The CALPIRG Energy Service Corps also worked with PowerSave Green Campus to organize a student-led sustainability conference featuring keynote speaker Richard Louv that took place last Saturday.