Archive for August, 2011

Thanks to all who visited us at the County Fair

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

OPALCO staff had a great time talking (and playing Plinko) with you at the Fair – thanks for stopping by to visit. In case you missed it, here’s a glimpse of the fun:

  • Members learned how to save energy in their homes by playing the very popular Plinko game crafted by co-op members and employee Elisa and Nate Howard. Prizes included school pencil cases with a cool multi- color highlighter and organic cotton backpacks stocked with home energy efficiency items.
  • You could ride a stationary bike to learn how much effort it takes to light an incandescent bulb vs. a CFL or make a smoothie.
  • If you signed up for one of OPALCO’s programs (MORE, PAL, Sharing the Load blog or Home Snapshot Energy Assessment), you were entered into the daily draw for a basket of energy efficiency tools and goodies.
  • You could talk with members of the MORE (member owned renewable energy) committee and learn how YOU can support local renewable power generated by your island neighbors and fellow co-op members.
  • You could check out the Nissan LEAF (Leading, Environmentally friendly, Affordable, Family car) – on display in front of the main entrance and learn more about how electric cars work.
  • And, the ever popular safety board display was a hit. Lineman conducted safety demonstrations and well as discussed current projects.

There was a great response of participants and OPALCO thanks you for doing your part. Working together through energy efficiency we can make a difference in managing our load and keeping rates lower!

Climate Change: Local & Global Perspectives Lecture Series

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

The Islands Energy Coalition invites you to the third of the Climate Change: Local and Global Perspectives lecture series.

“Home Performance: A good first step in energy saving and reducing your carbon footprint”

Thursday, September 1st @ the Lopez Library

DOUG POOLE of Sage Building Solutions will describe what Home Performance is and how it is a critical step in reducing the impact of buildings on our limited energy resources. We will then dig into the fundamentals of building science and its power to create healthy, money saving and comfortable homes. Both energy remodels (retrofit) and new construction will be covered. The session promises to be lively and interactive with many gadgets and demonstrations including a live Blower Door test!

Climate Change: Local and Global Perspectives is an informal lecture series on the challenges and possibilities facing our world and community in this time of unprecedented change. There are many people on Lopez and other San Juan islands engaged in these issues and we will draw upon local knowledge to provide dynamic presentations and stimulate discussion. This talk is the second in the series.

Please carpool or ride your bike.

For more info, go to website: Islands Energy Coalition or

Appliance Decommissioning Program Ends 9-1-11

Monday, August 15th, 2011

The Appliance Decommissioning Program will end September 1, 2011. Due to lower rebate levels available from BPA and the more challenging logistics of running the program in the islands, we will no longer be able to offer the Appliance Decommissioning rebate program. However, we do still encourage you to decommission your old refrigerators and recycle them safely by cutting the electrical cord and taking them to your transfer station. If you’ll be replacing it with a new fridge, we still offer rebates on purchases of new, energy-efficient appliances. Check out the rebates today!

What’s contributing to my home’s base load electricity use?

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

I figured out recently that my home’s base load electricity usage is approximately 17 kWh per day (See Blog post for July 8th).  I did this by taking the average usage over 6 days.   I have been very curious to figure out what is using that 17 kWh per day!

First, I made a simple table of the suspect appliances and electronics. Here I can record the usage as I measure it.

Second, I decided the first items I would measure would be the TV and the DVR.   I plugged in the Kill-a-Watt meter between each of their plugs and the wall outlet.  (See an example of how to use a Kill-a-Watt meter at )

The Kill-a-Watt meter will show immediately the wattage that the item is consuming.   At first, I decided to record what the TV and the DVR use when they are supposedly turned off.  The DRV is using approximately 22 watts and the TV is using 1 watt.  Have you heard of vampire energy or phantom loads? These are very good examples of that!  Over 20.72 hours the DVR consumed .43 kWh and the TV consumed .04kWh. I recorded this in my table below.

When in use the TV consumes approximately 187 – 222 watts.  The DVR consumes about the same as when not in use; 22 watts.    I decided to look at the consumption over a week of normal usage. The TV consumed approximately 5 kWh and the DVR consumed approximately 4 kWh.  Again, see the table below where I am recording the numbers.

The conclusion from this experiment is that the TV and DVR are not big culprits in the 17kWh per day that my house is consuming.  Next, I think I will look at my water heater.

Stay Tuned –

Item Total Time 


kWh Usage Cost @ .0758/kWh 


DVR (direct TV receiver) 20.72 .43 .03 The DVR turned “off”.
191 (7days 23hrs) 4.01 .30 A week of normal usage.
TV (47” LCD) 20.72 .04 .003 The TV  turned “off”.
191 (7days 23hrs) 5.33 .40 A week of normal usage
Water Heater
Wireless router
Ethernet switch(hub)
Hot water re-circulate pump
Water purification system
Septic system pump