Energy Savings Blog

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

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

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!

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

The 2015 Island Energy Fairs are coming!

Monday, May 18th, 2015

Members of all ages learn to save energy.

Want to test drive an Electric Vehicle (EV), tour solar homes, and learn about the latest ways to save energy?

OPALCO invites you to join us at the Energy Fairs.

This is an interesting and fun way to understand the sources of electric power and to be aware of your own personal energy usage habits and savings options. The OPALCO Energy Savings team, the M.O.R.E. (Member Owned Renewable Energy) committee, and Islands Energy will be participating. In addition to energy efficiency and conservation workshops, there will be free kids activities, raffle prizes, and much more!

Comparing the energy consumption of different kinds of lights.

Comparing the energy consumption of different kinds of lights.

The Island Energy Fairs represent a community collaboration between San Juan Islands Conservation District and OPALCO.

San Juan Island Energy Fair

Saturday, May 30 from 10am-3pm
At the Mullis Community Center

Orcas Island Energy Fair

Saturday, June 6 from 10am-3pm
At the Eastsound Village Green

Lopez Island Energy Fair

Saturday, June 27 from 10am-3pm
At the Lopez Center for Community and the Arts

Highlights include:

  • Free energy savings kits
  • A light bulb exchange (bring any number of incandescent bulbs and up to 10 expired CFLs to exchange for 3 new 60W equivalent standard LED bulbs)
  • Demonstrations of electric vehicles
  • Information about home energy audits and locally generated power
  • Information about OPALCO efficiency rebate programs
  • Local contractor booths
  • Details about planned Community Solar projects
  • Energy keynote speakers

 

Kids checking out a Nissan Leaf Electric Vehicle

Kids checking out a Nissan Leaf Electric Vehicle

Learn about Solar Energy for your home

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!

Rep. Jeff Morris on Appliance Efficiency and Coal Plant Exit Strategy

Monday, April 6th, 2015

 

WA Representative Jeff Morris shared some recent state legislative action, with these highlights:

1) Appliance Efficiency

The 2015 House of Representatives passed Rep. Morris’ bill to set higher efficiency standards for appliances sold in Washington. House Bill 1100 will require appliances to be manufactured with better energy saving mechanisms in order to be sold in Washington. Inefficient appliances waste energy – costly for Washington families and our environment.

California has already established higher efficiency standards. If we don’t catch up, Washington could become a dumping ground for low-efficiency, outdated appliances that manufacturers can’t sell in other states.

His bill is now sent on to the Senate, where he hopes for speedy passage.

2) Creating an ‘Exit Strategy’ for Coal Plants

Morris also introduced a bill that would give state utility companies a pathway for closing down coal plants and phasing out coal-fired energy generation.

Despite state, federal and consumer pressures, the transition for utility companies to end coal energy generation is more complicated than simply closing coal plants. Market instability and financial burden caused by the removal of a large energy source eventually falls on consumers, which could escalate rates for those now dependent on coal.

Morris says,“If we expect our utility companies to end their use of coal, we need to give them a viable exit strategy that protects consumers.”

His proposed legislation wouldn’t force the closure of any plants and instead provides a cost-effective pathway for utilities to do it themselves.

Note that many states with low-cost electricity, like West Virginia, burn cheap, dirty coal. This chart of carbon footprints clearly demonstrates that hydro power carbon footprint is about 250 times cleaner than coal. OPALCO electricity comes primarily from very clean, renewable hydro power, as shown in the 2013 Fuel Mix report.

Energy Carbon Footprint

WA Representative Jeff Morris represents the 40th Legislative District that includes San Juan County and parts of Skagit and Whatcom Counties.  Jeff has been a strong leader on energy initiatives, including energy efficiency and renewable energy policy. 

For more information about both bills, click here.  To learn more about ways you can improve the energy efficiency of your home (including upgrading to efficient appliances), visit our OPALCO Energy Savings website.