Archive for the ‘General’ Topic

As heating costs rise, electric fuel is key

Wednesday, October 25th, 2017

In a recent study from the federal U.S. Energy Information Administration, heating costs are expected to rise nationwide this winter due to an expected increase in demand, and prices. It will get cold this year! With the different heating fuel sources used in San Juan County (electric, propane, heating oil, wood), electric is the most cost effective way to heat your home, with oil and propane costs to increase up to 18% nationwide.

Need to replace your old propane furnace, or is your wood stove not keeping you warm enough? Consider a high-efficiency electric Ductless Heat Pump. You will use less energy, lower your overall energy bills, and improve the comfort levels in your home.

Community Solar News

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

 

Co-ops across the country are building more Community Solar, and getting much more attention.  Check out this article from Green Tech Media:

Rural Co-Ops and Public Utilities Have Voluntarily Built Nearly 100MW of Community Solar. Here’s Why:

Why do you want to be involved in Community Solar?  Let us know at Solar@OPALCO.com!

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!

Renewable Energy System Cost Recovery Checks Being Mailed

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

Are you waiting for a check for the WA State Renewable Energy Incentive?  Payments are being mailed this week!  These incentives help to offset the cost of installing renewable energy generating systems.

If you are an Interconnected Member Generator (see Member Policy 14 for details), OPALCO measures every kWh you produce, and we pay you for each unit per the guidelines from the State legislature.  This means that you can send power back to the grid for your friends and neighbors to use, OR you can use it at your home or business; either way, you get credit for it!

If you want to keep an eye on how much you’re using versus how much you produce, the SmartHub tool allows you to monitor your consumption and generation.  It also allows you to review your billing history, and find out how much you send back to your friends and neighbors each month.  Thank you, Member Generators for generating over 988,000 kilowatt hours this year!

smarthub-net-meter-screenshot

Net Meter Analysis

Renewables on Decatur

Tuesday, September 6th, 2016

OPALCO enjoys the opportunity to speak at community events that involve our programs.  On Saturday, September 3rd, we had the pleasure of sharing some time with Dr. Steve Johnson (former Executive Director of the WA PUD Association) on Decatur Island to talk about OPALCO’s Renewable Energy programs, and also discuss some future thoughts about Community Solar in the San Juan Islands.  We pondered over topics like Net Metering, M.O.R.E., and Policy 14 – Interconnection of Member Generators, and had a great dialogue with the membership.  There was an awesome turnout, and we had lots of great questions.

DecaturBulb

We have already participated in Community Solar projects, and we are looking into the future to see what the next project will look like in the San Juans.  To find out more about Community Solar and the future of OPALCO, check out our Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) in the Resource Library.

Have a meeting you’d like OPALCO to be a part of?  Need someone to speak about local energy, renewables, or conservation and efficiency?  Contact us to see if we can help!  

Tips ‘n Tricks

Friday, August 12th, 2016

This is a great article showing some ways to save energy.  Some of these don’t cost a cent, and can save much more.  Others may cost more, but can contribute to a world of savings.

25 Ways To Save

www.finehomebuilding.com

Community Solar in the News

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

 

Check out this article by the Rocky Mountain Institute (sent in by a member) about the benefits of large-scale community renewable energy.  It’s a good overview of a complicated concept, and also a look at how other communities are approaching this.  Currently, our Member Owned Renewable Energy (M.O.R.E.) committee is reviewing options for San Juan County.

Community Solar: A Cost-Effective Bridge away from Net Metering?

Want more information?  Check out our Renewable Generation page!

Annual Report – Win a $50 Bill Credit

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

OPALCO’s 2015 Annual Report is ready for your reading pleasure. We want you to know who we are and what we are up to. So much so, in fact, that if you read the report and take the Treasure Hunt quiz, we’ll enter you to win a $50 bill credit. Go for the gold!

Saving Energy with Compact Space Heaters

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

OPALCO space heater

The Envi compact space heater

The heating season is here and we want to stay warm! Space heaters can be an excellent supplemental heat source for keeping warm without running up your electric bill. The idea is to heat the space you are in, rather than the whole house, and choose a heater best designed for that space.

Electric space heaters have been deemed safest for indoor heating, and can be broken down into two types: convection and radiant heaters.

Convection heaters contain a sealed heat transfer liquid, such as oil, that is warmed by an electric heating element. Often they have fans that help circulate the warm air in a room. They are very energy efficient for heating a larger room for a short period of time.

Radiant heaters reflect heat using an infrared technology, and are most effective in smaller spaces for a short period. The best heaters on the market use a combination of convection and radiant heat. These space heaters are referred to as panel heaters. They blend approximately 80% of the convection technology with 20% of radiant. They are highly energy efficient and warm larger spaces quickly and quietly.

When selecting a model, pay extra attention to the wattage.  Energy saving models use 400-600 watts (3-5 cents/hour), depending on the size.  Some commonly used space heaters can use up to 1500 watts (or 13 cents/hour) to operate!

We have received excellent member feedback for the American built Envi wall mounted heater. These are commonly installed in bathrooms and bedrooms where it keeps the area a consistent, comfortable temperature.  Here are some benefits Envi heaters offer:

Safe – the Envi has a cool-to-the-touch exterior that is barely above room temperature.  The built-in thermostat allows the unit to turn off when a comfort level is reached.  The Envi heater also has an enhanced thermal cut-off that quickly shuts down the heater if the air vents are blocked. It is made from crack-resistant materials that make hairline cracking a thing of the past.

Healthy & Quiet – Using a pure convection design, the Envi operates without moving parts and distributes air without the use of a fan. It is hypoallergenic and will not circulate dust or allergens, or dry out the air. It is completely silent and also features an auto dimming power light.

Simple & Stylish – The Envi installs on your wall in minutes using a simple 3-step process. No hassle – just warm air delivered by a slim, sleek and stylish heater – only 2 inches thin.  It can be ordered online, with a few options, including hard-wired, or plug-in to a wall outlet.  It can also be paired with a programmable external thermostat.  This is a great option for a bathroom, as you can set it to warm the bathroom before you get up in the morning, and then ease back during the day, while you’re away.

EconomicalEnvi High-Efficiency Whole Room Electric Panel Heaters are $139.95.

To learn more about the Envi heaters, visit eheat.com.  For other efficient wall-mounted heating options, you may also want to check out convectair.com and econo-heat.com.