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Chico’s neighborhood workshops worth investment of energy

After extensive displays of April showers and May flowers, summer swelters have started hitting the North State. This year’s weather patterns—wild as they’ve been—demonstrate how climate change is not abstract; whether you believe scientists or skeptics, you only need to step outside to have climate change hit home.

That’s why the CN&R is advancing an effort to address the issue where Chicoans live, literally.

The city has scheduled home energy-efficiency workshops in three neighborhoods composed predominantly of older houses: Barber, Chapman and the Avenues. Speakers from the Butte Environmental Council and North Valley Energy Watch will describe quick retrofits, upgrade options and rebate programs. The workshops will take place on successive Wednesday evenings starting May 31 (see “Power to the people,” Greenways, page 16).

You can’t beat the price: free. Organizers hope to boost attendance by serving ice cream—also free—and handing out prizes. Those who can’t go still can learn ways to reduce utility usage via the city’s sustainability website, www.chicosustainability.org, or by checking out a DIY Home Energy Saving Toolkit from the library or BEC.

The workshops fall under Chico’s Million Watt Challenge, a campaign launched this year to cut electricity consumption citywide by 1 megawatt (yes, 1 million watts) by December. City officials arrived at that number because it’s round, achievable and catchy.

For all its new construction, Chico has a lot of old houses. The older the house, the greater the opportunity to increase efficiency. Insulation and windows represent two areas where technology has improved protection from the elements as well as hard-to-detect leaks of heated and cooled air. It’s not hard to find other issues, other fixes.

Spending an hour to reduce wasted energy is a can’t-lose investment.