Teens teach others how to go -- and save -- green
Youth Energy Specialists help residents conserve power and water
This summer, while some teens were conserving their own energy by sleeping late or lounging on the couch, another group was helping others conserve energy by doing in-home visits.
"We go to people's houses make their homes more energy efficient by installing CFL (compact fluorescent light) bulbs and checking water pressure," said Hannah Fowler-Kimsey, a 16-year-old from Amador High School.
She and Deepak Singh, 19, a student at San Jose State, are two of nine Pleasanton young people working for the summer as Youth Energy Specialists, taking appointments and going out to homes in the area.
For safety, they work in pairs -- one minor and one 18 or older -- so that there is always a legal adult on each assignment. Each pair can visit three to six homes a day, where they perform energy assessments and replace incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient lights. They check water pressure and when necessary, install aeration heads on showers and sinks.
This summer was Singh's second year.
"Each visit takes roughly an hour to an hour and a half, depending on what we have to install," he said. "Last year, we changed 90 bulbs at one house."
He said changing out one bulb can save up to $10 a year.
"The summer program is employing 112 people throughout the East Bay for the duration of the program," said Christina Mestas, Pleasanton's community outreach manager for California Youth Energy Services. "The CYES program started in 2000 in Berkeley. As of 2011, the program has serviced 17,231 homes and trained 1,177 youth in 10 East Bay cities."
Fowler-Kimsey and Singh have become experts. They can roll though a home in nothing flat, stopping along the way to pass out energy-saving tips to the residents, suggesting clotheslines instead of dryers, recommending that furnace filters are changed at least once a year, advising people to defrost their refrigerators yearly and reminding them to turn off heat and air conditioning when they're out.
While neither of them see their work with CYES as a career path, that wasn't the case for Will Rich or Evan Pendleton. Rich started out as an energy specialist and worked his way up to site manager.
Pendleton started as an energy specialist last summer and is now a LIFT manager; The Leadership In Field Training program gives CYES energy specialists increased responsibility and a higher rate of pay, teaching them how to supervise staff, how to assist in training others, and to be a role model.
Mestas said as of last year, energy and water saving measures installed by CYES workers have saved residents more than $11.7 million in on their energy bills and more than 79 million kilowatt hours.