Knowledge is power

John King stands inside cavernous “warehouse” room inside CTAC (Customer Technology Application Center) in Irwindale.

T8 and T5 fluorescents demonstrated.

Different “colored” white lights can be chosen from among newer compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) bulbs. CFL use one-third the energy of incandescent light bulbs.


Here’s John King inside the natural light room at CTAC. The light from the ceiling is coming from the sun through the roof. No electricity, bulbs are being used.


Before I post my From the Editor’s Desk column, a few quick comments.
Edison’s CTAC in Irwindale is quite the place to visit. Imagine a SIMS game, where every room is a replica of some real life room. There is a meeting room with natural light, a room using low-energy fluourescents, a room approximating a warehouse. There’s even a building where Edison purchased a refrigeration unit from an old supermarket and engineer s work on keeping the cold cuts cold while stopping the energy leakage.
It’s a techie dream. I’ll folo up my post – which is a news-you-can-use primer on saving energy in the home – with some photos I shot inside the CTAC.
steve scauzillo

FOR the life of me, I havent figured out why I paid a visit to Southern California Edison to learn how my family can use less electricity. Isnt that like going to the IRS to see how to pay less taxes?

But these Edison guys despite paying shareholders off of my rising monthly electricity bills really are the electricity experts in SoCal.And besides, who can resist their cute logo, that green and yellow shining sun.I came to the interview armed with my $311 home electricity bill for September, a modest home (about 1,800 square feet interior) with normal lighting and an old, central air conditioning unit and old appliances. I went to school at SCEs Customer Technology Application Center (CTAC) in Irwindale. My teacher, John King, who retrofits old army bases with low-energy devices and is also on the Covina City Council, gave me my crash course. I took notes:

Natural light. A lot of classrooms, offices and warehouses and residences are using specially designed skylights that direct sunlight into the room with a solar tube. Light in a room without using energy. Way cool.

Compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) bulbs. Their spiral look is funky, but they save energy. Go to Lowes, Home Depot or your favorite hardware store and buy a pack of 12 for about $24. Replace every incandescent bulb in your home or business. One CFL bulb burning 11-15 watts puts out the same light as a 60-watt incandescent bulb you save 45-49 watts per bulb. Want more light? Try a 20-watt CFL bulb (equivalent to 75 watts). One CFL can save about $36 during its lifetime. We lowered our bill (at home) by about $60 a month, King said. CFLs cost more, but last 10 times longer. They also come in shades of white cool, soft and daylight.

T8 and T5 fluorescent tubes. T8s are smaller in radius and use less energy than the old T12 lamps youd see in school classrooms, kitchens and garages. At CTAC, they lit only one of two lamps, and the room light was bright. Also, kitchens with can lights recessed in the ceiling save energy.

Install a whole house fan. For about $200, this fan, though noisy, should be run for an hour at the start of the day in June, July, August and September. It cools the house down so that the air conditioning unit will run less often and not work as hard.

Old refrigerators, aka, energy drains. We just purchased a new GE Profile. When you buy any new appliance, check out the Energy Star yellow tag. Most new appliances are more efficient and use less electricity. In fact, an 18-20 cubic foot fridge now burns about 2.5 to 3.0 kilowatt hours of electricity a day, as opposed to about 14 kilowatt hours a day for the old ones. Also, Edison will also come to your house and take away your old working refrigerator and pay you $35. They take it to a recycler where old copper, metals and other parts are re-used.

Garage refrigerators suck energy faster than a Raider fans lips on a can of Miller. These old coolers leak, their seals are not tight and they work harder, especially in a garage in Azusa with a temperature of 100-plus degrees. Same with spare freezers. Get rid of these, and then watch your meter spin slower.

Dual-pane glass. By replacing ordinary windows with energy efficient ones, less hot air enters during the summer (air conditioner runs less often) and less cold air enters during the winter (heat is on less often). These are also known as low emissivity (low-e) glass windows. King said hes replacing them himself at his Covina home. Something I wouldnt do myself, because I am the most unhandy person on the planet.

Corporations and businesses are taking free classes at CTAC with the goal of lowering energy use and saving cash while increasing their bottom line. Edison brains are designing supermarket refrigeration shelves that leak less energy and new, environmentally friendly wet cleaning that will soon replace dry cleaning. Engineer Scott Mitchell is working on cleaning up energy wasteful soda vending machines for Pepsi.

If they can do it, so can homeowners. To me, saving energy should be just as important in the home as recycling. We dont need no stinking ballot initiative to save energy, just go get your electric bill thats motivation enough to start making changes.