Kanu Hawaii’s Energy Home

A Kaimuki couple won Kanu Hawaii’s Energy Challenge and will get a complete lighting audit and retrofit from Energy Industries Corp. for their conservation efforts, setting them on track to permanently cut consumption.

Brian and Jackie Chappel reduced their electricity use by 85 percent in July, a time when most Oahu homes increase usage by 4.9 percent, according to billing data from HECO.

Their secret?

“I’d like to say that we lowered our energy usage through lifestyle changes,” said Jackie Chappel in a journal of their effort, “but the truth is we got a solar water heater and solar panels.” (They also got a new asphalt shingle roof and a solar fan, and plan to dump their room air conditioners.)

Lifestyle changes are evident, however. “Our latest project has been setting up a water catchment,” she added, noting that they also installed rain gutters. “We set up a barrel under our main gutter outlet, and the output has been incredible. I use a plain old plastic pitcher and take the water from the drum to water my plants in the morning.

“It takes a bit longer, but it’s a pretty minor change and cuts down on my water bill (which is enormous!) and saves water for our community.”

The nonprofit Kanu Hawaii seeks to encourage and support environmental and social change. In the Energy Challenge, more than 1,000 people committed on its website to document their experience with energy reduction.

“Those who took the Challenge prove that we all have an important role in building a more secure, sustainable energy future,” said competition co-chairman Brandon Hayashi. “Their reductions mean less reliance on imported oil, fewer greenhouse gas emissions and more money in the local economy.”