Archive for the ‘Energy Efficiency & Conservation’ Topic

EV Recap

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

Awesome turnout in Friday Harbor for the Electric Vehicle (EV) Car show!

EV Variety_Edited

There was a phenomenal turnout of OPALCO members at this weekend’s event. Many supporters of energy efficiency and conservation, as well as renewable energy advocates, were present to learn about current OPALCO programs, and future projects.

We learned about the different benefits of owning an EV in the islands, and the different varieties available now from different car manufacturers. Those featured on Saturday included Nissan, Chevrolet, Tesla, Mitsubishi, and BMW. Spectators also got a chance to look at the differences between 100% electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids, like the now-familiar Toyota Prius.

Row of EVs_Edited

Along with highlighting why it makes sense to own an EV in San Juan County, OPALCO was there promoting renewable energy, and getting members to sign up for information about our upcoming Community Solar project, expected to break ground in 2018.  More information on this project will be available during the OPALCO Annual Meeting on Saturday May 6th, and we’re looking for interested members to sign up for our email distribution list.

If you want to be involved in Community Solar, please contact us at (360) 376-3571, or send an email to energysavings@opalco.com to get signed up!

Good News on the Horizon

Friday, February 10th, 2017

When it comes to new ideas, in the cooperative spirit we often seek what our colleagues in the Co-op world are doing.  What are their priorities?  What challenges are they facing, and how are they handling them?  What ideas do they have for energy efficiency, local renewables, and future sustainability?

OPALCO is thinking about some important concepts: peak demand shaving – local renewable generation – economic impact – sheep?  In one instance, we can see the same thought process in other Co-ops.  Take a look at this article about another Co-op that successfully invested in Community Solar.  Think Community Solar might be right for the San Juans?  Stay tuned!

Co-opCommunitySolar

Our Collective Load on the Grid

Monday, October 31st, 2016

OPALCO has about 11,200 members, distributed across 20 islands, all connected by the grid. How do the patterns of daily life show up on the grid? OPALCO manages our collective energy load carefully to make best use of member resources and keep rates as low as possible. Understanding our energy usage patterns is important as we embrace more intermittent resources, such as wind and solar, and as we make decisions today about our power supply tomorrow.

Load ChartOur local grid connects to the mainland through two submarine cables. These cables draw power from a transmission network . . . READ THE FULL ARTICLE

Green Home Tours Part 2

Monday, October 24th, 2016

 

 

montesorri-pv

We had a FANTASTIC time with the San Juan Islands Conservation District this month with the Green Home Tours.  Participants got to see local homes and businesses on the cutting edge of energy conservation and efficiency, as well as buildings using tried and true methods, getting back to the basics.  Here are some green highlights from the different sites we visited:

 

Lopez:

  • Straw bale construction, earthen plaster, solar hot water heat, and lots of photo voltaic systems.

 

San Juan:

  • Energy Star rated appliances, weather resistive barrier wrap, in-floor heating, heat recovery ventilator.

 

Orcas:

  • Water catchment, smart thermostats, LED Lighting, Solar Education (with PV Array on site!), Electric Vehicle Charging station.

 

One item that was common at almost every single building we visited (including low-income residential housing, state-of-the-art commercial businesses, and cutting edge high-end design) was Ductless Heat Pumps.  The majority of energy used in San Juan County is used for heating, and Ductless Heat Pumps are a hyper-efficient way to get the job done.  Learn how to cut costs and reduce your carbon footprint by investing in a DHP, and monitor your savings using SmartHub – our FREE tool to manage your OPALCO account and monitor your energy usage.

Want to see some of the places we visited on the tour?  Interested in adding your home?  Go to www.GreenHomeSanJuans.org and view the Interactive Map!  Thanks to all that participated, and getting involved!

 

Green Home Tours

Monday, October 3rd, 2016

 

In partnership with the San Juan Islands Conservation District, OPALCO is helping to host a tour of homes in the Green Home Network.  This Saturday, we went to Lopez and saw some amazing homes that highlighted the best of energy efficiency and resource conservation.  We saw solar panels, straw bale insulation, and lots of ductless heat pumps.  Additionally, our members were chauffeured from home to home in a fleet of Electric Vehicles from the Conservation District, OPALCO, and our awesome members.

 

We are going to continue the tour on San Juan October 8th, and Orcas October 22nd.  Come learn about energy efficiency and conservation, ask the experts about best practices, take a ride in an EV, and see some astounding local dwellings!

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF ENERGY EFFICIENCY REBATES WHILE THE SUN IS SHINING

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

GE Heat Pump Water Heater

GE Heat Pump Water Heater

Summer is a great time to take on efficiency projects and rebates for appliances (heat pump water heaters, clothes washers) and heat pumps (ductless and ducted) are still available. Rebate funding is expected to run out by September and additional funding may not be available until 2017.

In anticipation of this shortage, OPALCO’s Energy Savings staff put a temporary hold on larger projects and weatherization rebates (windows, insulation, duct sealing) last fall in order to make our remaining funds last as long as possible. Rebate details and forms are online.

Read the full story

New Website Links

Friday, July 29th, 2016

Check out the new websites from our partners at the San Juan Islands Conservation District!

Take Charge of your energy savings, learn about electric vehicles, and follow the Georgetown University Energy Prize!

Take Charge!

Take Charge!

 

Get in touch with the Green Home Network!  Take the tour, connect with your green neighbors, and share your story!

GreenHome_7-29-16

Green Home Tou

Energy Upgrades are Always in Season

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

Summertime looms, and for us Pacific Northwesterners, there are still plenty of cool days until we get to midsummer. Regardless of the time of year, You can make your home or business more energy efficient when you undertake projects aimed at improving lighting, weatherization, and home ventilation. The Community Energy Challenge (CEC) is all about improving our energy use, and took direct aim at saving energy and money.

In 2015 alone, the CEC helped with 38 energy upgrade projects affecting 26 homes in San Juan County. Homeowners took advantage of everything from duct sealing, weather stripping, new ductless heat pumps, ventilation improvements, and wall, attic and floor insulation. The homes and businesses were able to realize an average annual utility bill savings of $520.

The whole program was made possible by more than $76K in CEC incentive contributions, OPALCO energy savings rebates, and San Juan Conservation District non-electric grant funds. Also, the CEC commercial program, operated by Sustainable Connections, completed energy upgrades for 9 county businesses. Those improvements tackled lighting, heating, and weatherization.

Who paid for all this? CEC contributed $10,780 in project incentives and OPALCO rebates added another $3,647.

Need to know more about how these programs can help our low-income members? Call ……. And we can help you find programs and incentives that fit your home or business.

Energy Efficiency and the OPALCO Annual Meeting

Friday, May 13th, 2016

The OPALCO Annual Meeting has the primary function the electing of the Directors to the Board and approving any bylaw amendments. And the occasion also brings a number of guests and supporting agencies that have everything to do with Energy Savings and all the programs related to energy efficiency.

At this year’s meeting, the 79th for OPALCO, we were joined by the team at San Juan Conservation District, the Community Energy Challenge, and the OPALCO Energy Savings Team. You may have met the folks working in our county to promote energy savings through weatherization and other programs when they were handing out low-energy night lights and “solar” clothes dryers.

And speaking of programs, here’s a snapshot of how to get started with your energy savings projects.

Energy Efficiency BoardGame

If you didn’t get to the 2016 Annual Meeting to learn how these programs have already saved energy and members’ money, keep an eye on this site for upcoming meetings and events geared towards Energy Savings.

Next post will talk about the Community Energy Challenge(CEC) successes. Check back soon to read more.

May I have the Envelope, please?

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

Why you should consider weatherizing your home now

Home EnvelopeA building envelope is what separates conditioned and unconditioned space.  It performs the important job of keeping heat, cold, and moisture from transferring directly through your walls, foundation, and roof.  Like a cozy coat, hat, and socks for your home, appropriate levels of insulation and properly sealed air leaks will reduce your heating requirements and improve overall comfort level.  Paired with an efficient heating and cooling system like a ductless heat pump, you’ll cut down significantly on energy waste.

But wait…it’s summertime. Why think about heating, coats and hats when it’s warm outside?

Here are 3 good reasons to consider weatherization home improvements now:

1) Residential rebates for weatherization are going down October 1, 2015

OPALCO offers rebates funded by BPA’s Energy Efficiency Incentive program.  BPA constantly evaluates the region’s energy savings potential and adjusts incentives accordingly.  Effective October 1, 2015, the current rebate levels for insulation, windows, air sealing, and duct sealing will be cut nearly in half.  If you’re already thinking about making these upgrades, act now to benefit from the higher rebate levels.

2) Gains in improved comfort also apply to warm temperatures

Have you ever spent an extended amount of time in an unconditioned space like a garage, shed, or barn?  In the summer, it was probably warm and stuffy in there.  This is true for your home, too.  Improving the building envelope of your home helps keep you cooler and improves ventilation and moisture levels year round – even when temperatures are high.

3) Supply and demand

Many people wait to take action when their house feels drafty, their energy consumption is higher, and the temperatures are already dropping.  If you get ahead of the winter rush for weatherization work, you can prevent energy waste before it happens.  You may also have better access to lower costs of materials and higher availability of qualified contractors.

To create a plan for reducing your home’s energy waste or for more information about OPALCO rebates, visit our website or contact our Energy Savings staff (Lindsay) at 376-3500.

Amy Saxe, OPALCO Manager of Member Services & Energy Savings