This article was originally published in the May/June 1994 issue of Home Energy Magazine. Some formatting inconsistencies may be evident in older archive content.



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Home Energy Magazine Online May/June 1994


¿Como Se Dice Retrofitter?


by Kelley Griffin

Kelley Griffin is a former assistant editor of Home Energy.

This article, the third reprint in our tenth-anniversary series, is excerpted from the May/June '87 issue of Home Energy. With the continuing growth of the Spanish-speaking population, it is even more useful today.

Utility companies have always sought to present customer information about saving energy in plain English. In many regions, however, that has not been enough. With the Spanish-speaking community growing faster than any other minority group in the United States, and Spanish being the country's second most common language, more utilities are asking customers to conserve en Español, and many householders are now saying sí.

Reaching the Spanish-speaking community will become more and more of a priority of the industry as the population grows, said Alex Wilson of the Edison Electric Institute. Utilities in regions with both large and small Spanish-speaking communities operate outreach programs that range from offering brochures translated into Spanish to opening neighborhood offices run by bilingual staff. In the four states with the largest Spanish-speaking populations--California, Texas, New York, and Florida--utilities are offering a number of Spanish-language conservation programs. The programs vary in response to the particulars of each community--whether it is urban or rural, enjoys a temperate or seasonal climate, and also according to which dialects are spoken. Once appropriate information is developed, there are a variety of ways to make it accessible to the greatest number of people. Some of the general tactics utilities are currently using can be applied in any community.

A key element of any program designed to reach Spanish-speaking customers is the translation of basic energy information and all program materials into their language. This is not as simple as hiring a translator for the job, because colloquialisms vary from place to place. For example, native Mexican Spanish speakers may be unfamiliar with Cuban colloquialisms. One utility used the word bomba for pump, only to later discover that they were offering customers incentives to buy heat bombs, not heat pumps.

Con Edison, serving New York City and its long-established Hispanic community, has equally well-established services for Spanish-speaking customers. According to Con Ed public information manager Rich Mulieri, the company employs 66 bilingual customer representatives, and additional Spanish-speaking staff for its customer outreach program. Most of the company's informational literature is printed in both Spanish and English, and customers can request that their bills be printed in Spanish as well.

Florida Power and Light, which serves Miami and Dade County, used to translate its existing English materials into Spanish, but it now creates its Spanish language publications from scratch and gets feedback from auditors in the field about how comprehensible the materials are. That goes for English, too, said FP&L energy information supervisor Mel Klein. We have to see if it means anything to our customers.

On the other edge of the country, Pacific Gas & Electric also serves a large Spanish-speaking population. PG&E customer services specialist Rich Rock said, The utility is continually working on improving our service for Spanish-speaking customers, making every effort to have Spanish-speaking service representatives on the phones and at customer service counters, focusing on areas where the Hispanic population are concentrated. We've been more aggressive in hiring services reps that speak the languages found in our communities. Local customer service representatives in offices without in-house bilingual staff also use AT&T Language Line Services--(800)752.6096--a phone service providing translation services in 140 languages to help serve customers who don't speak English.

Energy auditors have always faced the task of translating technical jargon and hard-to-understand terms in order to teach consumers how to conserve energy and keep their bills low. Since a growing portion of the population feels more comfortable speaking Spanish than English, the scope of that translation effort has grown. Even basic materials, such as the labeled house and glossary on the following pages, can help customers understand the basics of conservation and provide them with a valuable introduction to saving energy.


Key to Figure 1.

1. chimney - chimenea
2. incandescent bulb - bombillo incandescente
3. insulation - aislamiento
4. attic access door - entrada de desván
5. air-to-air heat exchanger - unidad recuperadora de calor
6. storm window - ventana de tormenta
7. skylight - ventana de cielo
8. exhaust fan - ventilador
9. shutters - persianas
10. baseboard heater - calentamiento eléctrico
11. grille - reja
12. faucet - espita
13. low-flow showerheads - rociadores especiales para las duchas
14. washing machine - lavaropa
15. dryer - secadora de ropa
16. bed - cama
17. room air conditioner - aire acondicionado para habitación
18. window - ventana
19. space heater - calentador de ambiente
20. outlet - enchufe
21. compact fluorescent - luz fluorescente
22. thermostat - termostato
23. coils - resortes
24. return air register - escapa de ventilador
25. fluorescent - luz fluorescente
26. freezer - congelador
27. refrigerator - refrigerador
28. dishwasher - lavaplatos
29. range hood - huméro de estufa
30. stove - estufa
31. ceiling fan - ventilador de techo
32. blinds - sombrías de ventana
33. curtains - cortinas
34. cat - gato
35. lamp - lampara
36. fireplace - chimenea
37. television - televisión
38. porch light - luz de porche
39. energy auditor - inspector de energía
40. clipboard - tableta
41. step ladder - escala
42. water heater - calentador de agua
43. pipes - pipas
44. insulation blanket - cubierta de aislamiento
45. supply air ducts - conductos de aire provisión
46. return air ducts - conductos de aire volver
47. furnace - calentamiento de gas/de eléctrico
48. supply air register - ventilador de aire
49. fuse box - caja de fusibles
50. electric meter - metro contador

Additional Glossary

basement - sótano
bedroom - dormitorio
bill - cuenta
boiler - boilér
caulking - masilla
Coefficient of Performance - Coeficiente de Rendimiento
crawlspace - entrada para desván (attic); espacio angosto (basement)
demand water heater - calentador de agua rapido
den - etudio
doorsweep - umbral
double-pane window - ventana de vidriado doble
electricity - electricidad
Energy Efficiency Ratio - Promedio de Rendimiento de Energia
energy conservation - conservación de energía
energy-saving (adj.) - que ahorra energía
evaporative cooler - enfriador por evaporación
filters - filtros
flow restrictors - reguladores de salidas de aire o de agua
foam sealant - esponjas
fuel - combustible
gas - gas
hall - pasillo
heat-pump water heater - unidad del calentador de agua
heat pump - unidad de calefacción
heat recovery unit - unidad recuperadora de calor
heater - calentador
hot and cold water - agua caliente y frío
insulation - aislamiento
cellulose - celulosa
fiberglass - fibra de vidrio
rock wool - lana de roca
kilowatt-hour meter - contador de kilovatios-horas
kilowatt-hour - kilovatio-hora
kitchen - cocina
living room - sala
mobile home - casa móvil
off-peak period - período de menor demanda
oil - aceite
on-peak period - período de mayor demanda
oven - horno
R-value - clasificación de aislamiento
radiator - radiador
rates - tarifas
roof - techo
shutters - persianas
single-pane window - ventana de vidriado singular
solar collector - colector solar
solar water heater - calentador de agua solar
temperature setting - graduación de temperatura
TOU (time-of-use) - horario de consumo
utility room - lavadora
vent - respiradero
wall-outlet insulation gasket - juntas de aislamiento en los tomacorrientes
waterbed - cama de agua
weatherstripping - cintas termicas para evitar perdidas de energía
window fan - ventilador de ventana


Figure 1. The bilingual house. The above figure shows a cross-section of a house with a variety of energy-related devices. The key on the facing page matches the English and Spanish terms. In addition, we have provided a glossary of terms that do not appear in the figure. We invite our readers to send us any suggested changes or alternate translations.



Related Articles

Advancing the Art of PRISM Analysis (Fels, Kissock, Marean, Reynolds)
Computerized Energy Audits (Penn)
Confessions of an 'Addicted' Auditor (Padian)
Measuring the Performance of the National Energy Audit (Sharp)
The National Energy Audit (Harner)
New York's 'Targeted Investment Protocol System' (Gerardi and Sweeney)
Selecting an Infrared Imaging System (Snell)
Training Guide for 'Total Comfort' Professionals
Using Fuel Bills for a Targeted Investment (Padian)
The Wisconsin Audit System (O'Leary)

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