Women's group focuses on energy issues

Lola Redford and a few women friends equally concerned about pollution and the quality of the environment sat down in 1970 and agreed on the issues for a nonprofit environmental and consumer group. They called it Consumer Action Now (CAN), and the founding group of friends headed its volunteer staff.

For years Mrs. Redford, the wife of actor Robert Redford, has been an eloquent spokeswoman for the group, although she is now completing a graduate degree and only serves on the CAN board.

After the fuel crisis of 1974, the women decided to focus all their efforts on energy conservation and renewable-resource problems. They launched a nationwide energy-education program specifically for women. ''Women have traditionally shied away from things that seemed technical,'' Mrs. Redford said in one of her speeches. ''Yet we believe that if we can help women to first-hand knowledge of such things as attic insulation, BTUs, and encourage them to understand local building codes and tax incentives for home energy improvements, they will be able to help themselves and their families to make wiser energy decisions.''

Later, CAN came up with the idea behind the award-winning 10-minute explanation of solar technology called ''The Solar Film,'' which was coproduced by Robert Redford and is still being rented to schools, universities, and organizations. The group has sponsored CAN seminars on energy-efficient life styles in department stores, as well as community workshops and exhibits on energy and how to save it.

In 1980 CAN received a grant from the US of Housing and Urban Development and Energy Departments to develop an energy tool kit for women. This kit was designed to teach women the basic methods and materials of conservation. It includes do-it-yourself instructions on the most effective techniques for home heating, cooling, and weatherization.

Now the ''Women's Energy Tool Kit,'' put together by Joan Byalin, has been published by Little, Brown & Co. of Boston, selling at $9.95 in paperback. It takes the mystery out of such subjects as weatherization, and even includes information on career options for women in the energy field.

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