Hope for Efficient Homes

A village outside of Bishkek benefited from a 4 week Home Efficiency Training seminar. Over the course of 4 weeks the Bishkek CDI Technology Team taught men and women how to keep their houses warm in the winter. Topics covered coal burning stoves, efficient windows and doors, insulation and solar powered hot air heaters. The coal burning brick stove and the solar air heaters were the items people were most interested in. Surveys indicated that the villagers had a fair understanding of basic efficiency principles but didn’t apply them to their own homes. Most identified that they had a working stove but needed a better one. The seminar uses models to demonstrate topics such as how a chimney powers a stove and how to build home-made double pane wood framed windows. These models give the participants first-hand experience and a practical look at how to apply what they learn.

We conduct training using interactive and participatory learning techniques which are a new concept in this culture. Most participants are worried that they might answer a question wrong, and this creates shyness and reluctance to engage in the activities. However, after some coaxing many participants got over their stage fright and bravely presented their ideas, and even their own solutions, on the topics covered. Ultimately our goal is to train participants how to solve their own problems together using their own resources.

One interesting benefit for the team arose during a presentation of the brick stove construction. There were many bricks that required difficult cutting with a powerful and somewhat intimidating power tool. Two of the participants worked out a solution to avoid having to cut the bricks, thus dramatically improving the design of the stove and eliminating the need for so many bricks to be cut. This is a great illustration of how as community development trainers we often benefit and learn from the participants as much as they benefit and learn from us.

The Home Efficiency Seminar allows us to conduct surveys while teaching useful and energy saving techniques that all the participants can take advantage of. As a result of the seminar, one local man expressed a strong desire to build a brick stove in his house. The Technology Team partnered with him to get the job done. He paid for all the materials and learned how to build the stove while working alongside the team. Not only will his house be warmer using much less coal next winter, but he can help others do the same with the skills that he gained.